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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In 1937, W. B. Yeats wrote ‘A General Introduction for My Work’ to directly confront the dualities central to his poetry and his identity, and to reflect on his predicament as a consciously ‘Irish’ poet who uses the English language as his medium. One of the influences on Yeats's sense of being an Irish poet who writes in English is John O'Leary, who gave Yeats the poems of Thomas Davis, a Young Ireland poet whom Yeats subtly deployed in his explorations of what it meant to be an Irish poet writing in English. Writing in English, Austin Clarke brings to bear on his use of language the full weight of his apprehension of Irish history and culture. Clarke had a complicated response to the poetry of the Irish Literary Revival, especially that written by Yeats. Yeats and Clark both acknowledge that lamenting and unlamenting song derives from the awareness that Gaelic is their national language, but not their mother tongue.

Keywords: W. B. Yeats, Austin Clarke, English language, poetry, Ireland, John O'Leary, identity, Thomas Davis, Gaelic, Irish Literary Revival

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