First stanza = simple language - easy to understand - setting the scene.
"The children learm to cipher and to sing, - To study reading-books and history, - To cut and sew, be neat in everything - In the best modern way -"
- awful, boring education - not arty, cultural, intellectual.
- this is the modern way - wants a return to Romantic Ireland.
- simple language reinforces boringness of education system.
"- the children's eyes - In momentary wonder stare upon - A sixty year-old smiling public man."
- likes that they "wonder" at him - but it's only momentary - modest.
- sixty year old - telling us his age - shows he's concerned with aging.
"I dream of a Ledaean body, bent -"
- Ledeaen body = beautiful - Leda and the swan.
- lots of enjamebement - getting passionate/ carried away - sounds more beautiful - flows more. -
"a tale that she - Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event - That changed some childish day to tragedy"
- memories of Maud.
- comforting her - cares about her so much that her being upset is a tragedy.
"Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent - Into a sphere from youthful sympathy - Or else, to alter Plato's parable, - Into the yolk and white of the one shell."
- Plato's parable - have to find the other part of the egg to complete ourselves - perfect relationship.
- sphere is as perfect as we can get - close to what we once were.
- believes Maud is the other half of the egg.
"And thinking of that fit of grief or rage"
- grief and rage over MAud's rejection or over Maud being upset by a harsh reproof.
"I look upon one child t'other there - And wonder if she stood so at that age - "
- looking at the children brings back memories of Maud as a child.
"For even daughters of the swan can share - Something of every paddler's heritage - "
- likening Maud to leda's children - v. beautiful but caused war and death.
- other children are only "something of EVERY paddler's heritage" - lowering them, raising Maud.
"And thereupon my heart is driven wild: - She stands before me as a living child."
- heart driven wild = Cold heaven - regretful - nightmarish - thinking of her produces similar feelings to that of the Cold Heaven.
- contrast to neatness and order of school.
"Her present image floats into the mind - Did Quattrocento finger fashion it"
- what she looks like now - old.
- Quattrocento = 15th century period of art - Leonardo de Vinci etc. - great artists producing beautiful figures…