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Never Give All the Heart Explicatory Essay

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Updated: Nov 29th, 2019


The poem, Never Give All the Heart, by W. B. Yeats appears to elaborate on the necessity of being more reserved when it comes to love wherein instead of giving it your all you have to keep something back.

This is based on the various verses which place a significant emphasis on the potential repercussions of “giving your all” when it comes to love resulting in the undue heartbreak and hardship. The essence of the poem is that of a story of a man that has loved so much and so deeply that when his love was not returned or was even unrequited he fell into despair.

Surface Story

The story itself seemingly describes a lesson learned out of heartbreak wherein a person became so invested into loving someone that they did not realize until the bitter end that the person they loved did not love them in the same way resulting in heartbreak and sorrow.

Overall, it can be seen that poem itself adheres to the traditional verse form of poetry where there is a consistent meter pattern (i.e. AA, BB) and utilizes a rhyming pattern that is not evident until the third verse. The content though is nevertheless crisp and decidedly modern.

During the introductory portion of the poem, readers are introduced to the concept of keeping something back when falling in love. The author combines words such as women, passion and kiss to connote that while love is one of the best feelings in the world, it is something that is temporary, and burns out. For example, actions such as a kiss are temporary and a dream exists for just a single night and is often forgotten.

In the middle 3 stanzas of the poem, readers are introduced to the fleeting nature of love. Terms such as fading, brief, and dream are utilized to connote that love itself is never truly permanent and that it is quite possible for it to fade away in time.

In the last two stanzas of the poem, the author concludes that an individual that has given his all for love will unlikely do so again due the way in which such a love was lost. This can be interpreted as the author himself being unwilling to give it his all for love in the future due to some form of loss or even rejection that he experienced in a past relationship or even possible due to unrequited love.

When examining the poem in even greater detail it can be seen that the author places a great deal of emphasis on utilizing a very concise method of delivering the message of the poem (i.e. never give your all for love) through the use of words with powerful meaning behind them. As such, instead of creating a long stream of words to deliver a message, the author relies on only a few words and has the reader interpret their deeper meaning in relation to the theme of the poem.

Another interesting aspect of the poem is that it follows a distinct set of rules in its creation in that the use of rhyme as well as a very limited vocabulary set is evident. It is based on this that the poem can be considered a closed form of poetry since it adheres to a specific pattern and design in its creation.

Symbolism in the Poem

A more in-depth examination of the poem reveals a distinctly negative portrayal of women by the author. This is evidenced by the following stanzas: “Will hardly seem worth thinking of To passionate women if it seem”, “But a brief, dreamy, kind delight”, and “or they, for all smooth lips can say, Have given their hearts up to the play.” These parts seemly showcase love for a woman or even a woman’s interest in love as seemingly fleeting and temporary with men putting more into the relationship than woman.

An immediate impression from this is that to love a woman is to subject one’s self to the game of love which one can never truly win. You may be able to experience love, feel addicted to it but it is necessary to hold yourself back because to submit your entirety to love is to open one’s self to what the author states is a fleeting and fading dream that will inevitably disappear.

Yeats connotes being in love as similar to being deaf and blind wherein due to the way in which an individual obsess and puts their love on a pedestal they tend to neglect the possibility that the person they love may not love them back in return or that they simply have lost interest. However, it should be noted that the symbolism, characterization of women and even the overall theme of the poem is not unique in the slightest.

As such, when looking at the poem and thinking along this line of thought, it can be assumed that the poem is a reflection of the experience of the author wherein he loved a woman so much only to discover that it was a fleeting love since the woman either lost interest in him or turned him away. Another potential interpretation of the symbolism in the poem is that the author suffered under the effects of unrequited love and loved someone so much to the point that he was obsessed with them.

Rhythm and Literary Devices

Overall, the poem uses an AABB rhythm scheme starting from the 3rd stanza. Allegory is heavily utilized in various such as when the author correlates being deaf and blind to being in love.

The concept of allusion is also utilized wherein the author implies that love is fleeting and brief. Such a description alludes to the way in which love can come and go which is a theme often utilized in numerous poems that deal with love.

In fact, from a certain perspective it can be stated that the work of Yeast and its overall theme is far from unique to the extent that it seems to copy various bits and pieces from various works. On the other hand, it should be noted that with the sheer amount of literature that has been created that has dealt with the topic of love, this should not be surprising in the least.


Overall, I cannot state that the poem is of any considerable significance since it dwells on a theme and a topic that has been covered relentlessly by numerous poets since act of poetry started. It s based on this that I believe that the poem is a more personal work of the author, written to commemorate a point in his life where his heart was broken by love.

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"Never Give All the Heart." IvyPanda, 29 Nov. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/never-give-all-the-heart/.

1. IvyPanda. "Never Give All the Heart." November 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/never-give-all-the-heart/.


IvyPanda. "Never Give All the Heart." November 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/never-give-all-the-heart/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Never Give All the Heart." November 29, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/never-give-all-the-heart/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Never Give All the Heart'. 29 November.

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