Richard J. Finneran’s revised edition of the poems of W. B. Yeats is the first volume of a fourteen-volume series that will include Yeats’s plays, essays, and autobiographies.[1] It could not have appeared at a better time. Fifty is a dangerous age for a dead man’s reputation. The fame of a lifetime has had time to fade, and the echoes are more likely to give an impression of distance than of the enthusiasm which first gave rise to it. The weakening of the echoes is progressive. In 1942, three years after Yeats’s death, Allen Tate could still speak of “a poetry which . .. is nearer the center of our main traditions of sensibility and thought than the poetry of Eliot and Pound.” I suppose that was a bold thought for the time, from a man of an age to have received the first impact not only of Yeats’s later work but of the main oeuvre of Pound and...


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