W.B. Yeats and Cormac McCarthy

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  • 28 Mar 2015 at 6:45 am #6761


    Just realized “no country for old men” is from a W.B. Yeats poem.

    The more poetry I read, the more I realize poetry inspires McCarthy’s work.

    This is a revelation to me (a non-scholar). Probably not to y’all.

    Makes me wonder which other poets may have inspired his work.

    I also realize W.B. Yeats inspired James Joyce and James Joyce inspired McCarthy.

    I find it fun to trace McCarthy’s roots.

    (The “child the father of the man” line from Blood Meridian also comes to mind.)

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by  jasonp.
    28 Mar 2015 at 10:50 am #6766

    Rick Wallach

    Jason: then you will be delighted to know that, even as we plan next year’s McCarthy conference in Germany, we are now actively working with freshly minted Doctor Dowdy at Galway University to hold our 2017 conference there. This is in its earliest stages but there have been blandishments over the years from the Emerald Isle that haven’t materialized – it’s been a lot like waiting for the head on your Guinness to settle – but we do seem to have a little traction now. Keep your fingers crossed.

    For your delectation in the meantime, here’s a poem by the late great Michael Donaghy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Donaghy. This is a poet you should know.

    Here’s his take on “Sailing to Byzantium.”


    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by  Rick Wallach.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by  Rick Wallach.
    28 Mar 2015 at 1:10 pm #6769


    It’s interesting to consider The Waste Land in relation to Suttree. In particular, the descriptions of a London waste land and the diry river have many resonances with Suttree’s Knoxville. And is this not an example of Suttree’s others:

    Who is the third who walks always beside you?
    When I count, there are only you and I together
    But when I look ahead up the white road
    There is always another one walking beside you
    Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
    I do not know whether a man or a woman
    —But who is that on the other side of you?

    28 Mar 2015 at 1:45 pm #6771



    This is from a Lord Byron poem, “Stanzas to the Po”:

    “A stranger loves the lady of the land,
    Born far beyond the mountains, but his blood
    Is all meridian, as if never fann’d
    By the black wind that chills the polar flood”

    You might want to check this out:


    – Toni

    28 Mar 2015 at 5:42 pm #6774


    All great. Thanks.

    Toni, that is awesome.

    “Outer Dark” seems like it could have come from a poem, as well as “All The Pretty Horses.”

    29 Mar 2015 at 6:29 am #6793


    Hi Jason,

    “All the Pretty Horses” is an old lullaby. A beautiful song, which
    in turn reminds me of Arthur Rimbaud’s poem “Asleep In the Valley”.

    – Toni

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by  Toni.
    07 May 2015 at 10:11 am #7074


    Hi Jason,

    I read this Dylan Thomas poem a few nights ago and it put me in mind of Suttree.

    “Find Meat On Bones”

    Find meat on bones that soon have none,
    And drink in the two milked crags,
    The merriest marrow and the dregs
    Before the ladies’ breasts are hags
    And the limbs are torn.
    Disturb no winding-sheets, my son,
    But when the ladies are cold as stone
    Then hang a ram rose over the rags.

    Rebel against the binding moon
    And the parliament of sky,
    The kingcrafts of the wicked sea,
    Autocracy of night and day,
    Dictatorship of sun.
    Rebel against the flesh and bone,
    The word of the blood, the wily skin,
    And the maggot no man can slay.’

    ‘The thirst is quenched, the hunger gone,
    And my heart is cracked across;
    My face is haggard in the glass,
    My lips are withered with a kiss,
    My breasts are thin.
    A merry girl took me for man,
    I laid her down and told her sin,
    And put beside her a ram rose.

    ‘The maggot that no man can kill
    And the man no rope can hang
    Rebel against my father’s dream
    That out of a bower of red swine
    Howls the foul fiend to heel.
    I cannot murder, like a fool,
    Season and sunshine, grace and girl,
    Nor can I smother the sweet waking.’

    Black night still ministers the moon,
    And the sky lays down her laws,
    The sea speaks in a kingly voice,
    Light and dark are no enemies
    But one companion.
    ‘War on the spider and the wren!
    War on the destiny of man!
    Doom on the sun!’
    Before death takes you, O take back this.

    The final stanza of the above rang a particular bell:

    “What do you believe?
    I believe that the last and the first suffer equally. Pari passu.
    It is not alone in the dark of death that all souls are one soul.
    Of what would you repent?
    One thing. I spoke with bitterness about my life and I said that I would take my own part against the slander of oblivion and against the monstrous facelessness of it and that I would stand a stone in the very void where all would read my name. Of that vanity I recant all.”

    This is not to suggest direct inspiration, but the themes of each are kin echoing one another, surely. (All, I apologize no citation of page number for the Suttree quote. Going from memory and memory’s agent, the net, at present.)

    07 May 2015 at 2:15 pm #7076


    Suttree, page 414.

    07 May 2015 at 2:55 pm #7077


    Thank you Wes. I promise to amend my ways.

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