must be handled with some delicacy.nFor reasons that are inexplicable fromneither her photographs or her poetry,nRiding exercised a magnetic appeal toncertain personalities that has given her anlegendary stature out of proportion tonher artistic achievements. But she cannotnbe dismissed simply as the archetypalnOther Woman. Although married at thentime, Riding apparentiy descended onnthe Nashville group with all the liberatedninstincts of a jazz-age flapper, andnwith her own designs on some of thenleading Fugitives. Seymour-Smith franklyndiscusses an affafr with Allen Tate (Tatenonce described Riding to me as “the mostnpredatory woman” he had ever known),nbut after the Fugitives disbanded as anformal group she contrived again to insinuatenherself most intimately into thenlife of another writer. Graves was a willingnvictim.nRiding had entered Graves’s life inn1926 as his secretary to live and travelnwith Graves, his wife, and his children.nShe quickly became his muse and collaborator,ncomposing with him the importantnearly Survey of Modernist Poetrynand living openly with him on the Spanishnisland of Mallorca. Thefr sexual liaisonnended abruptly in 1929 when Riding attemptednsuicide by drinking Lysol andnstepping out of a fourth story window,nwith Graves descending a story to follownher plunge from the third floor. Bothnsurvived, although Riding was seriouslyninjured, and their emotional relationshipncontinued until the late 1930’s whennshe left Graves for the obscure Americannpoet Schyler Jackson. Graves turned tonBeryl Hodge, the much younger wife ofnone of his closest friends, and has livednhappily with her in Mallorca, comfortednadditionally by a succession of youngn”muses,” since the end of World War II.nThe story is as revealing of Graves’sncareer as it is bizarre in its outline. Asidenfrom the popular historical novels whichnhave been so successfiilly produced forntelevision, Graves is perhaps best knownnfor his studies in mythology, especiallynhis romanticization of the White Goddessnas the archetypal female figure whonlies behind creative inspiration and indeednall human productivity. His thesis,nwhich calls for masculine subjection tonthe female principle, was acted out dramaticallynin Graves’s own life. From hisnfeminist first wife, through Riding, Beryl,nand the nubile inspfrations of his latencareer, he has lived his philosophy, findingnboth support and domination in hisnconsorts and loves. Graves has alwaysndenigrated the art of fiction—even hisnown novels—and has insisted on hisneminence as a poet. If his reputation doesnultimately survive as a poet, it will probablynrest on a remarkable group of lovenpoems which bear testimony to his worshipnof the Goddess and her retinue ofnattendant muses.n3o much has been written about thenbiography and works of Yeats that littlendetail is necessary here. It will suffice tonsay that Douglas Archibald’s Yeats is annexemplary application of the biographicalnmethod to literary criticism. UnlikenSeymour-Smith’s biography of Graves,nArchibald’s book is a traditional academicnstudy which deftly uses the facts ofnYeats’s life to iUuminate the poetry. Theninfluence of his strong, artistic father,nthe intense milieu of Irish nationalism,nhis involvement in both the Irish literarynrenaissance early in the century and laternin Irish politics per se, his notorious unrequitednlove for the fanatical Irish patriotnMaude Gonne, and his ventures into thenoccult are all admirably described andnthen revealed in thefr poetic forms. Onenparticular aspect of his career, though,nmakes for an interesting comparison tonGraves.nLike the younger poet, Yeats was repellednby the emergence of science asnthe predominant philosophy of his world.nAnd although comparatively unlearnedn(most of Yeats’s esoteric knowledge derivednfrom wildly self-indulgent and undisciplinednreading), he also turned tonmythology as a panacea for his philosophicalncomplaint. In his AutobiographynYeats discusses the problem of his peculiarnneed for some inteUectual authority,nand in so doing touches the heart of thennnphilosophical and spfritual dilemma thatnboth informs and plagues much of ourngreatest art:nI was unlike others of my generationnin one thing only. I am very religious,nand deprived by Huxley and Tindall,nwhom I detested, of the simple-mindednreligion of my childhood, I had madena new religion, almost an infalliblenchurch of poetic tradition, of a ferdclnof stories, and of personages, and ofnemotions, inseparable from their firstnexpression, passed on from generationnto generation by poets and painters,nwith some help from philosophers andntheologians. I wished for a worldnwhere I could discover this traditionnperpetually … I had even created andogma.nYeats is describing here his need for belief,nand his solutions—the “fardel ofnstories,” etc.—^are the early “Mythologies”ndrawn from Celtic lore, the bizarre occultism,nand the complex symbolismnwhich he elaborated in his curiousnprose work A Vision and then used asnthe symbolic foundation for some of hisngreatest poems: “Leda and the Swan,”n”Two Songs from a Play,” the “Byzantium”npoems, and the apocalyptic classic “ThenSecond Coming.” Cleanth Brooks hasncalled A Vision “one of the most remarkablenbooks of the last hundred yearsnthe most ambitious attempt made bynany poet of our time to set up a ‘myth.'”nTo Seymour-Smith, who apparentlynshares Graves’s prejudice, it is “extra unsophisticatedn. . . vulgar . . . clearly notnthe work of an educated and informednman an embarrassment to Yeats’s admfrers.”nBut while more accessible tonreaders, Graves’s White Goddess is, bynSeymour-Smith’s own admission, basednon dubious scholarship and can be takennseriously only as a “gigantic metaphor.”nAs if that were not the effect of Yeats’snmyth. A comparison of poems inspfrednor derived from both books su^ests thatnA Vision, however floistrating, is somethingnother than an embarrassment. Andnof course both books must be read innthe perspective of the poetic protestnagainst the mechanistic, scientific impulsenof the age.nFebruary 1984n