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Summary: The poem For Anne Gregory emphasises the fact that beauty is temporal. Even today, when beauty can be externally formed with the use of cosmetics, beauty remains a means of judging people. Beauty has become a yardstick by which people are judged. Such an attitude is extremely harmful, but it is still prevalent today.
A young girl, Anne, tells the poet that she does not want to be loved solely for her external beauty. She aspires to draw people in with her inner beauty, her heart. This depicts how a wonderful girl wishes for someone to adore her for her inner sentiments and spirit rather than her lovely yellow hair or figure. The statement alone demonstrates how stunning she is on the inside. Outer beauty is only a mirage, and Anne knows this from the bottom of her heart. She even says she’ll dye her hair a different colour so she can meet someone who will love her the way she wants to be loved. She is looking for genuine affection. She doesn’t want people to admire her beauty; she wants them to admire her for who she is, for her feelings, emotions, and perspective on various situations, as well as her gentle demeanour.
The poet responds that no human can love her for her heart since a religious person once informed him that he discovered a book in which it was written that only God can love a human for his or her inner self. As a result, there isn’t a single person in this world who can adore her for her inner feelings. God is the only superior being who will not judge love based on its appearance. Only God’s love for her will be unconditional and unselfish.
It’s a flawed concept that no one can love us for who we are on the inside; they only want us to look attractive in order to be loved. At the same time, it demonstrates that God is a pure soul and supreme being who is unconcerned about whether you are dark or fair, tall or short, fat or skinny, attractive or unattractive. You will be loved if you are good on the inside.
God is the highest being who admires a person for his/her true beauty, which is his/her inner beauty, rather than his physical appearance. People desire to be loved in this way, yet in today’s culture, external qualities and appearances are valued more than inside characteristics. The heart can only be captured by someone who loves the soul and can only love others selflessly. The poem’s conclusion For Anne Gregory is a lesson to all people, not only Anne Gregory, that there is no one else who will love you for who you are but God. Many people will admire you because of your external beauty, but only God appreciates you because of your inner beauty.
Textual questions and answers
1. What does the young man mean by ‘great honey-coloured, Ramparts at your ear’? Why does he say that young men are ‘thrown into despair’ by them?
Answer: The golden outer parts of the young woman’s ears are described by the poet as “great honey-coloured ramparts at your ear.” Because they are unsightly, young men are “thrown into despair.”
2. What colour is the young woman’s hair? What does she say she can change it to? Why would she want to do so?
Answer: The young woman’s hair is yellow in colour. Her hair can be dyed black, brown, or carrot-coloured. She would like to do so to appear attractive and win love.
3. Objects have qualities which make them desirable to others. Can you think of some objects (a car, a phone, a dress…) and say what qualities make one object more desirable than another? Imagine you were trying to sell an object: What qualities would you emphasise?
Answer: Cars, phones, and dresses all have different colours, designs, and durability. These features differentiate one object from another. When I sell something, I focus on the object’s construction first, then its colour and design.
4. What about people? Do we love others because we like their qualities, whether physical or mental? or is it possible to love someone ‘for themselves alone’? Are some people “more lovable’ than others? Discuss this question in pairs or in groups, Considering points like the following.
i) a parent or care given’s love for a newborn baby, for a mentally or physically challenged child, for a clever child or a prodigy
ii) the public’s love for a film star, a sportsperson, a politician, or a social worker.
iii) our love for a friend, or brother or sister
iv) your love for aа pet, and the pet’s love for you.
Answer: We love others because we admire their qualities. Both physical and mental qualities are considered. It is also possible that people love others solely ‘for themselves alone’. A father or mother loves his or her child for the child himself or herself. Some people are more lovable due to their qualities.
i. Parents love their children for the sake of love itself, regardless of the quality they possess.
ii. Public admiration for a movie star, athlete, politician, or social worker is contingent on the circumstances. A person can be made a hero, but they can also be forgotten.
iii. I love a friend, brother, or sister unconditionally. I love them because I should, and they love me back for the same reason.
iv. I adore my pet, but I am unaffected by his affection for me.
5. You have perhaps concluded that people are not objects to be valued for their qualities or riches rather than for themselves. But elsewhere Yeats asks the question.
How can we separate the dancer from the dance? Is it possible to separate the person himself or herself from how the person looks, sounds, walks and so on? Think of how you or a friend or member of your family has changed over the years. Has your relationship also changed? In what way?
Answer: In fact, it is difficult to separate the dancer from the dance. However, one’s activities shift with the seasons and circumstances. It is important to remember that a person’s potential is limitless.
Yes, a member of our family has evolved over time. It happened as a result of a change in circumstances and an economic shift. Unknowingly, the relationship has also changed. Artificiality has manifested itself in both behaviour and relationships.
Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions
1. Between whom is the poem’s conversation centred?
Answer: The poem is a dialogue between the speaker and Anne Gregory, who could be the poet, or Anne’s lover or acquaintance. The speaker feels that young men adore Anne because of her exterior attractiveness, but Anne disagrees, claiming that external beauty is unreal and that young men should love her for who she is.
7. Why do you believe the speaker brought up the old religious man and the scripture proving that only God can love Anne solely for herself?
Answer: The speaker referred to a passage discovered by an elderly religious man, which indicates that only God can love Anne solely for herself. It’s because the speaker wanted to convince Anne that her wish for men to not notice her exterior beauty would not be granted. The speaker informs Anne that only God can be so great that he can gaze beyond external beauty. Man, on the other hand, is easily seduced by all things that appear attractive from the surface and is unconcerned about what is on the inside.
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