Donald Davie on W. B. Yeats, at Stanford, Term 1, 1975

Donald Davie reads fifteen of his poems: "To Certain English Poets," "Zip," "Heartbeats," "Demi-Exile. Howth," "Creon's Mouse," "Woodpigeons at Raheny," "Remembering the 'Thirties," "The Wind at Penistone," "Time Passing, Beloved," "The Mushroom Gatherers (after Mickiewicz)," "To a Brother in the Mystery, circa 1290," "Killala," "Metals," "A Meeting of Cultures," and "The Life of Service." Here. (These were recorded in the 1970s, hence the lack of sibilants).

In Term 1, 1975, at Stanford, Donald Davie presented a course on W. B. Yeats. I audited the course, and, with Professor Davie's permission, recorded it for a friend who was unable to attend. Thirty-seven years later, I have retrieved the remaining cassette tapes (10 of 13), and digitised the lectures. The ten extant tapes include about 17 hours of the course, including 24 lectures. Donald Davie died in 1995, aged 73.

The course is divided into two parts:

  • the first part introduces Yeats' poetry and plays via a potted history of Ireland, to emphasise that Yeats was an Irish poet (albeit an Anglo-Irishman, of the Ascendancy, the now diminished sector of Anglican Irishmen), and not just another English poet;

  • the second part discusses the poems chronologically.

  1. Tape 1 -- missing.
  2. Tape 2 -- missing

  3. Tape 3 (Monday, Jan 20th; Tuesday, Jan 21st; Thursday, Jan 23rd) -- a C120

  4. Tape 4 (Friday, Jan 24th; Monday, Jan 27th; Tuesday, Jan 28th a) -- a C120

  5. Tape 5 (Tuesday, Jan 28th b; Thursday, Jan 30th; Friday, Jan 31st) -- a C120

  6. Tape 6 (Monday, Feb 3rd; Tuesday, Feb 4th) -- a C90

  7. Tape 7 (Thursday, Feb 6th; Friday, Feb 7th; Monday, Feb 10th a) -- a C90

  8. Tape 8 (Monday, Feb 10th b; Thursday, Feb 13th; Friday, Feb 14th) -- a C90

  9. Tape 9 (Tuesday, Feb 18th; Thursday, Feb 20th; Friday, Feb, 21st a) -- a C90

  10. Tape 10 (Friday, Feb 21st b; Monday, Feb 24th) -- a C90

  11. Tape 11 -- missing

  12. Tape 12 (Friday, March 7th; Monday, March 10th) -- a C90

  13. Tape 13 (Tuesday, March 11th; Thursday, March 13th; Friday, March 14th) -- a C120

Last Updated 26 September, 2012
Robert Marks,