This volume, originally published in 1937, is reissued with a new preface and a few small corrections. A brilliant study of the continuing and changing uses of classical mythology in English poetry, it treats most of the major and many of the minor English poets since 1680 and includes a chapter on the use of myth in American verse. It provides an illuminating overview of English poetry since the end of the Renaissance.
In his Preface to the new printing, Douglas Bush briefly surveys the various approaches to classical myth over the centuries. “During the last two generations,” he observes, “most of the leading British and American poets (not to mention Rilke and others) have renewed the mythic or mythological tradition with fresh power. Thus, in spite of the accumulated pressures and threats of our time, the vitality and the necessity of myth remain.” He also reminisces engagingly about the writing of the book and acknowledges that after three decades he does not find a great deal in it that he would wish to change.