“The Municipal Gallery Re-visited” and its Writing

  • Wayne K. Chapman
Part of the Yeats Annual book series (YA)


The manuscript drafts of “The Municipal Gallery Re-visited” are located in the National Library of Ireland MS 13,593(29). The NLI file includes thirteen leaves of material in Yeats’s hand and two pages of typescript, numbered “33” and “34” and bearing stanzas I–IV and V–VII, respectively. The typescript apparently provided the printer with text for New Poems (Dublin: Cuala, 1938), although it compares more favourably typographically with the first published version of the poem in A Speech and Two Poems (Dublin: Three Candles, 1937). The typescript variants may be represented by the following table:


Guide Book Eminent Domain Manuscript Draft Rough Draft Blank Page 
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  1. 2.
    see Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975] p. 139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    Found in NLI MS 13,576, much of this series has been quoted by Thomas Parkinson in The Later Poetry, pp. 184–6 (in the volume W. B. Yeats: Self-Critic and The Later Poetry [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971]), andGoogle Scholar
  3. a complete though undiplomatic transcription is available in Richard Fallis’s mistitled article, “Language and Rhythm in Poetry: A Previously Unpublished Essay by W. B. Yeats”, Shenandoah, 26.4 (1975) pp. 77–9.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Richard J. Finneran’s edition, The Poems: Revised (New York: Macmillan, 1989) offers, for different reasons, a text close to the one I use, admitting a few changes from the posthumous Last Poems and Plays (1940).Google Scholar
  5. Distinctions between the VP and PR texts arc discussed in detail in Finneran’s book, Editing Yeats’s Poems: A Reconsideration (London: Macmillan, 1990) pp. 71–6.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    I have in mind Frank Kermode’s appeal, over thirty years ago, that Spenser and especially Milton needed liberating from the oppression of “Symbolist assumptions” translated into “the Symbolist historical doctrine of dissociation of sensibility” (Romantic Image [New York: Macmillan, 1957] p. 165).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Yeats’s early interest in Spenser climaxed years before he made his selections, in 1902–3, and wrote his introduction for Poems of Spenser (Edinburgh: T. C. & E. C. Jack, 1906; Wade 235).Google Scholar
  8. See also, Wayne K. Chapman, “The Miltonic Crux of ‘The Phases of the Moon’”, in YA 8 pp. 59–77; and George Bornstcin, “The Making of Yeats’s Spenser”, YAACTS 2 (1984) pp. 21–9.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Arland Usshcr’s pamphlet Yeats at the Municipal Gallery (Dublin: Dolmen, 1959) is still among the most useful of introductions to the poem’s many pictorial inspirations.Google Scholar
  10. Elizabeth W. Bergman (Loizeaux) discusses the elegy in light of Yeats’s other picture poems in “Yeats’s Gallery”, Colby Library Quarterly 15 (1979) pp. 127–36; andGoogle Scholar
  11. T. R. Henn, who was disappointed by the poem, has discussed Yeats’s pictorialism without it in “Yeats and the Picture Galleries”, Southern Review I.1 (1965) pp. 57–75.Google Scholar
  12. More useful from a literary standpoint are Helen Vendler’s treatment of the poem (with “group-elegies”, “Easter 1916”, “In Memory of Eva Gore-Boo*h and Con Markiewicz”, and “Beautiful Lofty Things”) in “Four Elegies”, Yeats, Slogo and Ireland: Essays to Mark the 21st Yeats International Summer School, Irish Literary Studies 6 edited by A. Norman Jeffares (Gcrrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1980) pp. 216–31; andGoogle Scholar
  13. Arra M. Garab’s exposition in “Times of Glory: Yeats’s ‘The Municipal Gallery Revisited’”, Yeats’s Last Poems: A Casebook, edited by Jon Stallworthy (London: Macmillan, 1968) pp. 182–93.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    Marvell’s “The Gallery” was one of the poems Yeats studied in H.J. C. Grierson’s anthology Metaphysical Lyrics and Poems of the Seventeenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon, 1921); YL, 816.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    Yeats owned a copy of Edmund Waller, Poems, edited by G. T. Drury (London: Lawrence and Bullen, 1893); see YA4 289.Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    See Warren L. Chernaik, The Poetry of Limitation: A Study of Edmund Waller (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1968) pp. 187–93.Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    See Rosemond Tuve, Elizabethan and Metaphysical Imagery (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1947) pp. 50–60.Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    Sec A. Norman Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984) p. 400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Curiously, Oliver St John Gogarty’s Selected Poems (New York: Macmillan, 1933;Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    “Because language is common and literature … continuous”, Richard Ellmann wrote, “the words in a book are coded records of successive impositions of eminent domain” — Eminent Domain: Yeats Among Wilde, Joyce, Pound, Eliot and Auden (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967) p. 8.Google Scholar
  21. The “grand, authoritative larcenies” he observed were restricted to writers who knew and competed with one another. In Yeats (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970) and,Google Scholar
  22. later, in The Anxiety of Influence (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), Harold Bloom extended much the same idea to all writers. Via Freudian precept, the concept of literary influence gained popularity as an “anxiety principle”, assuming the dynamic to be competitively motivated and that younger writers necessarily and invariably misunderstand their elders. My reservation about such theories is supported by Yeats’s behaviour toward distant peers such as Spenser. “Eminent domain” and “misprision”, I think, mainly apply to living or proximate peers and (as administered by some critics) can create blind spots that prevent one’s seeing a writer’s turning to his precursors for aid. I take up these problems in Yeats and English Renaissance Literature (London: Macmillan, 1991).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1993

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  • Wayne K. Chapman

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