Zoas and Moods: Myth and Aspects of the Mind in Blake and Yeats



This chapter takes a fresh look at the oft-compared couple, Blake and Yeats, comparing and contrasting their use of myth to convey aspects of the mind, and relating the differences between them not only to changing conceptions of the mind, but also to their different political assumptions. It should, of course, go without saying that Blake can figure in a discussion of modernism and mythopoeia, and not just because of Yeats’s clear indebtedness to him. One of the more dispiriting effects of the resurgence of historicism has been a tendency to revert in practice, though perhaps not in theory, to simple models of temporality which lend a spurious ease to talk of historical periods. But Blake is merely one of the more acute examples of a textual history which renders such talk inadequate. In point of his reception he is in many ways a poet of the modern period. Among his first serious readers was Swinburne, whose influence extends well ahead; and he is important to the understanding of Joyce, Auden, Ted Hughes and Allen Ginsberg. Roger Fry seems to have regarded him as an exponent of ‘significant form’. The first serious edition of his works was the great three-volume edition by Edwin Ellis and W. B. Yeats in 1893.


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© Edward Larrissy 2006

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