Thomas MacGreevy, "Recessional" (1925)

Read by Martin Mühlheim.


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Thomas MacGreevy, "Recessional"


Biographical Note

"Thomas MacGreevy was born in 1893 in County Kerry. He took degrees at University College, Dublin, and at Trinity College. He was an officer in the British Army during World War I, and was twice wounded in the Battle of the Somme. In 1925 MacGreevy went to London where he worked as a lecturer at the National Gallery. He moved to Paris in 1927 and held a position as Lecturer at the Ecole Normale Superieure for seven years. During these years he was closely associated with the Irish expatriate writers living in Paris, especially Beckett and Joyce. His poetry and criticism appeared in many journals; critical studies of T. S. Eliot and Richard Aldington were published in 1937 and Poems in 1934. MacGreevy returned to London in 1935 when he was reappointed to his position at the National Gallery. In the early 1940s he moved back to Dublin where he established himself as an art critic, and in 1950 he was appointed Director of the National Gallery in Dublin, a position he held until his retirement in 1963. MacGreevy died in 1967. Collected Poems appeared in 1971." (Bradley 29)

Reception and Literary Historical Significance

  • "Thomas MacGreevy haunts the margins of modernist literary and art history. He is too frequently known as someone who played a critical role in the lives of those who went on to achieve greater fame: Samuel Beckett in the years before the Second World War; Wallace Stevens in the decade before the American poet's death; and as a stalwart champion of Jack B. Yeats's work and executor of his estate." (Schreibman, xxv)
  • "Thomas MacGreevy (1893–1967) was a central figure in the intellectual culture of early twentieth-century Ireland. Vita Sackville-West likened him to 'a wind of freshness and freedom through the over-lush coppices of poetry.' W. B. Yeats declared him 'the most promising of all our younger men.' Samuel Beckett described his verse as 'probably the most important contribution to post-war Irish poetry.' The praise that MacGreevy received from some of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century contrasts sharply with his fitful reception today." (Hutton-Williams 1)

Works Cited

  • Bradley, Anthony, ed. Contemporary Irish Poetry: An Anthology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.
  • Hutton-Williams, Francis. Thomas MacGreevy and the Rise of the Irish Avant-Garde. Cork: Cork University Press, 2019.
  • Schreibman, Susan. Introduction. The Life and Work of Thomas MacGreevy: A Critical Reappraisal. Ed. Susan Schreibman. Historicizing Modernism. London: Bloomsbury, 2013. xxv–xxvii.