biographies that lie in the creations ofnthe artists themselves, intellectual andnspiritual records of their physical andnexistential histories. The best formalnbiographies, as well, must try to illuminatenthat more profound life with thenconflicts and often humdrum details ofnday-to-day existence. If the spate of recentnliterary biographies is any indication,nthe taking stock has begun.nIn that pantheon mentioned above,nfew major poets have been so inadequatelynstudied and discussed as RobertnGraves, while only a handful of giantsnhave been treated so exhaustively—tonexcess some, including Graves, wouldnsay—as William Butler Yeats. On thenface of it, the poets seem to share a commonnground. Both were born—^Yeatsnmore intimately so—^into Anglo-Irishnfamilies with some artistic traditions.nBoth were among the most prolific ofnmodem writers, and both persevered inncareers of astonishing longevity. Yeatsnand Graves shared a hatred of modemnscience; both found the consequencesnof scientific philosophy repugnant and,nas a result, became soured on orthodoxnreligion to the extent that they foundnp^anlike substitutes in symbolic mythology.nBoth Yeats and Graves had their eccentricities,nto put it mildly, and bothnsuffered—^almost willfully—their mostnembarrassing and notorious humiliationsnat the hands of women. Both poets sustainedna remarkably passionate lyricismnin their verse until the ends of theirncareers, and both were inspired by anmystical concept of the poetic processnand of poetry as a higher tmth. At thisnpoint, though, the comparison breaksndown.nAs a critic of his fellow poets, RobertnGraves has characteristically insisted onnhis own tastes without regard to fashion.nHe has, vdth perverse delight, put himselfnoutside the mainstream of modernistnreverences and played critical gadfly tonthe establishment. For instance, he usednthe 1954-55 Clark Lectures at CambridgenUniversity to throw his scorn at suchnmodem demigods as Ezra Pound, T. S.nEliot, W. H. Auden, E)ylan Thomas, andnChronicles of CulturenespeciaUy Yeats, for whom he has harboredna lifetime of “loathing” as a poet.nYeats, he says, began with “admirablenqualities for a beginner”—^he had “wit,nindustry, a flexible mind, a good ear, andnthe gift of falling romantically in love”—nbut while he would have liked to havenbecome a “folk” poet in the manner ofnthe American Vachel Lindsay[!] he “lackednLindsay’s simple courage.” In the 1920’s,nafter his exposure to Pound’s ideas onnmodernist poetry, Yeats emerged, “weUgroomed,ncynical,… with a manly voice,nflorid gestures … a new technique, butnnothing to say.” From Graves’s biographer,nMartin Seymour-Smith, we learnnthat barely two weeks after Yeats’s deathnin January 1939, Graves and some fiiendsn”had a lunch ‘in honour of demise ofnYeats.'” The reason for the blind animositynis not clear unless Yeats—^like Audenn—was perceived as untme to Graves’snideal, a “fedse poet” whose “poetic tmths”nwere contrived.nKobert Graves was born into a prosperousnupper-middle-class background,nthe sort that has produced so much ofnthe enduring in modern British literature.nHis progress through public schoolsnand Oxford left some psychologicalnscars but gave him the classical educa­nnntion that lies behind most of his subsequentnwork. The Great War of 1914-1918nprovided his rites of passage into manhoodnfor which the British schoolboynplaying fields had prepared him, and onenof his most popular and enduring booksnis the “autobiography” written beforenthe age of 35, Goodbye to All That. Thenwartime adventures were real—^he endurednthe trenches, was gassed and pronouncedndead—^but the war also threwnhim into those trenches with others ofnthe generation of 1914, including EdmundnBlunden, Siegfried Sassoon, andnWilfred Owen. After the war. Gravesnbegan his serious literary career and—nnot coincidentally—entered the first ofna bizarre series of romantic involvementsnwhich reveal much about his writing.nEven before he articulated them for himself,nhe seemed inspired by the ideas ofnGoddess and Muse as the feminine andnmoving forces behind culture. The Goddessnwas the primal, matriarchal objectnof human worship; the Muse the nymphlikeninspiration for creative labor. Gravesnoften has had trouble separating the twonideals when they appear in fleshly forms,nand almost his entire career has developednin response to his various romanticnentanglements.nShordy after the war. Graves plungednnaively and blindly into marriage with anshaUow young artist and feminist whonproduced four children for him but whonseemed to hamstring his other creativendrives. In the late 1920’s, though, he encounterednthe American poet Laura Riding,na strange, grotesque figure whondominates much of Seymour-Smith’snbiography, and who is herself the mostnnotorious “event” in Graves’s life. InnSeymour-Smith’s account. Riding emergesnas an original “American Gothic” whosenputative attractions remain invisible. AnNew Yorker by birth, she had married anprofessor at the University of Louisville,nand then had insinuated herself into thenclose-knit Vanderbilt Fugitive group ofnpoets, both—and this was no mean featn—^as the only Yankee and the only womannto cross that fine.nAny discussion of Laura Riding’s careern