'A new sword on an old anvil': W.B.Yeats, Robert Graves and the Anglo-Irish Tradition

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Abstract

Throughout his writing life, Robert Graves was consistently and often publicly hostile to the work of W.B. Yeats, whilst still also owing a considerable debt to the older poet (who he never met). This essay explores Graves' complex responses to Yeats, arguing that his antagonism may be understood in the light of his own Anglo-Irish background, and is implicated in his relations with his father, Alfred Perceval Graves, as well as his experience of the First World War. Probing the suggestiveness of Graves's claim in 1959 that his poems 'remain true to the Anglo-Irish poetic tradition into which I was born', it traces the relation between Yeats and Graves through correspondence, critical writings, and through a comparative reading of Yeats's A Vision and Graves's The White Goddess, and reveals underlying similarities in their critical and mythological thinking in spite of Graves's public disavowal of the Yeatsian aesthetic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalIrish University Review
Volume41
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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