T. R. Henn

Life
1901-1974; [Thomas R. Henn; fam. Tom]; wrote on sport in Shakespeare and other dramatic subjects; edited plays of Synge; author of The Lonely Tower: Studies in the Poetry of Yeats (London: Methuen 1950; rev. edn. 1965); W. B. Yeats and the Poetry of War [Warton Lecture 1965] (OUP 1965), et al., incl. a work of fly-tying (for fishing; also Five Arches (1980), an Anglo-irish autobiography and ‘family mythologem’; he founded the Yeats International Summer School at Sligo.

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Works
Criticism
  • Field Sports in Shakespeare (1934);
  • Longinus and English Criticism (Cambridge UP 1934), 163pp.;
  • The Lonely Tower: Studies in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats (1950; 1965 [rev. edn.]; 1966; 1979), xxiv, 375pp.;
  • The Harvest of Traged: The nature of tragedy, discussed in relation to selected writers of tragedy(1956; 1966), xv, 304pp., pls., 8o., ill. [5 pls.], Bibl. pp.295-98.
  • Kipling (London, Oliver & Boyd, 1967), [7], 141pp.;
  • W. B. Yeats and the Poetry of War [Warton Lecture, Oxon.] (1965);
  • The Bible as Literature (London: Lutterworth Press 1970), 270pp.
  • The Living Image: Shakespeare-ean Essays (London: Methuen 1972), xi, 147pp.
  • Last Essays (Ggerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1976), 253pp..
Poetry
  • Shooting a Bat and other Poems (1964);
  • Five arches: A Sketch for an Autobiography; and, Philoctetes and Other Poems (1980), ill. by Alan Freer.
Miscellaneous
  • Practical Fly-tying (1950) [3 photos & 137 drawings];
  • The Apple and the Spectroscope: being lectures on poetry designed, in the main, for science student, foreword by Sir Lawrence Bragg (London Methuen 1951, 1962 [new edn.]; 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967), xviii, 165pp., ill. [plates & maps].
  • Science in Writing: A Selection of Passages from the Writing of Scientific Authors, with Notes and a Section on the Writing of Scientific Prose (1960);
  • Address ... on the occasion of the gift of Duras House, Kinvara to ... Irish Youth Hostel Association, &c. (1961);
  • ed., & sel., Passages for Divine Reading (1963);
  • Foreword to Mary Hanley, Thoor Ballylee-Home of William Butler Yeats, ed. Liam Miller [paper to the Kiltartan Society, 1961] (1965; 1977; 1984).
Autbiography
  • Five Arches a Sketch for an Autobiography [and] Philoctetes and Other Poems, with illustrations by Alan Freer (Gerrard Cross: Colin Smythe 1980);
Scholarly editions
  • Ed. & Intro., J. M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World (1960; 1961; 1982);
  • ed., The Plays and Poems of J. M. Synge (1963;);
  • Gen. ed., The Coole Edition of Lady Gregory’s Works (Colin Smythe 1970); ed. & annot., The Complete Plays of J. M. Synge (1981).

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For selected chapters from The Lonely Tower [1950] (1965 Rev. Edn.), see Ricorso Library, “Criticism / Major Authors”, W. B. Yeats [infra].)
For foreword to The Untilled Field (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1976), pp.v-xxv, see infra.
See also attached BML (1955) list, infra, and COPAC list, attached.

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Bibliographical details
T. R. Henn, The Lonely Tower: Studies in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats (London: Methuen 1950, 1965), xxiv, 375pp. CONTENTS. Introductions [ix; First Edition, ix; Second Edn. xvii]; Texts and Abbreviations [xxiii]; I: The Background [1]; 2: Choice and Chance [23]; 3: The Masks - Self and Anti-Self [36]; 4 Women Old and Young [51]; 5 Yeats and Synge [72]; 6 The Study of Hatred [88]; 7 Between Extremities [100]; 8 The Development of Style [107]; 9 Image and Symbol [126]; 10 Myth and Magic [148]; 11: The Phases of the Moon [173]; 12: A Vision and the Interpretation of History [191]; 13: Byzantium [220]; 14: Painter and Poet [238]; 15: The Poetry of the Plays [272]; 16: The Achievement of Style [297]; 17: Last Poems [318]; I8: “Horseman, Pass By!” [334]; Select Bibliography [353]; Index [361]. (For extracts, see infra.)

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Commentary
Richard Kain, Dublin in the Age of William Butler Yeats and James Joyce (Oklahoma UP 1962; Newton Abbot: David Charles 1972), of Yeats: ‘A major portal of discovery was that of the fine arts. All readers can recall the procession of Magi, knights, dragons, dolphins, as well as numerous references to mosaic, portrait, altarpiece, and landscape. Yeats himself gave up painting after two years of training, but he never ceased to furnish his imagination with visual motifs, many of them discovered by Professor T. W. Henn and described in The Lonely Tower (1950).’

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Declan Kiberd speaks of T. R. Henn as one of those who see Synge as one of Anglo-Ireland’s crowning glories and ‘who like to portray [him] as a martyr to the Irish mob, perhaps because this assuaged his own guilt about ascendancy mistreatment of the natives’ (Inventing Ireland, 1995, p.175).

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Quotations
The Lonely Tower: Studies in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats (London: Methuen 1950, 1965 [2nd Edn.]): ‘The society and life of the early part of the century was in many ways peculiar. It was a very different world from that of Synge or of O’Casey. Everywhere the Big House, with its estates surrounding it, was a centre of hospitality, of country life and society, apt to breed a passionate attachment, so that the attempt to save it from burning or bankruptcy became an obsession (in the nineteen-twenties and onwards) when that civilisation was passing. […] The great age of that society had, I suppose, been the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; form the eighteen-fifties onwards, it seems to have turned its eyes too much towards England, too conscious of its lost influence in its hereditary role of The Ascendancy. By 1912 it was growing a little tired, a little purposeless, but the world still seemed secure. [Quotes Yeats: “We had too many pretty toys when young ... &c.”] In the furnishing of a great house, or in its library, one became aware that most of the work had been done between, say, 1750 and 1850, over the bones of a rebellion and two famines. The original building might date from Cromwell’s time, or before; modernised, perhaps, by adding a frontage from a Loire chateau, or a portico form Italy. some of these were of great beauty [quotes Yeats: “many ingenious lovely things are gone ... &c.] But the whole Anglo-Irish myth, the search for beauty and stability in the midst of poverty and defeat, the dreams that oscillated between fantasy and realism, has yet to be described.’ [Cont.]

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The Lonely Tower (rev. edn. 1965) cont.: ‘To this society, in the main Protestant, Unionist, and of the “Ascendancy” in character, the peasantry was linked. The great demesnes had their tenantry, proud, idle, careless, kindly, with a richness of speech and folk-lore that Lady Gregory had been the first to record [Ftn.: Visions and Beliefs.] The days of Castle Rackrent and the absentee landlord were, in the main, over; the relationship between landlord and tenant varied, but was on the whole a kindly one, and carried a good deal of respect on either side. The bitterness of the Famine, the evictions and burnings described by Maud Gonne in A Servant of the Queen, belonged to an earlier period. The members of the family would be known either by the titles of their professions: the Counsellor, the Bishop, the Commander, and so on: or by the Christian names of their boyhood. They mixed with the peasantry more freely and with a greater intimacy (especially in childhood) than would have been possible in England. […] Sport of every kind was a constant bond; the ability to shoot, or fish, or ride a horse was of central importance. At its best there was something not unlike a survival of the Renaissance qualities. […; 6] / There were other aspects of that life. Land or local troubles flared out from time to time. There were times, even in my own boyhood, when one did sit in the evening between a lamp and the open; though Lady Gregory, in reply to threats on her life during the Civil War, replied proudly that she was to be found each evening, between six and seven, writing before an unshuttered window. Violence had its curious paradoxes: there is a perfect description this in Lord Dunsany’s The Curse of the Wise Woman [see further under Dunsany, infra.] [...] In this society there was (outside the big cities) no middle class, and this was in itself a fundamental weakness […]’ (pp.6-7; cont..)

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The Lonely Tower (rev. edn. 1965) - cont.: ‘The truth about the great houses of the South and West lies, perhaps, somewhere between Yeats’ pictures of Coole Park, the romantic descriptions of some recent novelists, and MacNeice’s “snob idyllicism”. For every family that produced “travelled men and children” there was another that produced little but “hard-riding country gentlemen”, who had scarcely opened a book. An eighteenth-century house might be half-filled with Sheraton and Adam work, and half with Victorian rubbish. Families nursed the thought of past greatness, fed their vanity with old achievement or lineage or imagined descent from the ancient kings; and in the warm damp air, with its perpetual sense of melancholy, of unhappy things either far off or present, many of them decayed. Standish O’Grady could write bitterly of The Great Enchantment, that web of apathy in a country with an alien government and an alien religion, subject at every turn to patronage and the servility it brings, into which Ireland had fallen. That, too, is a narrow view of the whole. The aristocracy had, at its best, possessed many of the qualities that Yeats ascribed to it: the world of Somerville and Ross, the Dublin of Joyce or of Sean O’Casey differ merely in accordance with the position of the onlooker.’ (p.9.) (For further quotations, see Ricorso Library, “Criticism / Major Authors” [infra]; also remarks under George Berkeley [supra], Lord Dunsany [supra] and W. B. Yeats [infra].)

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References

British [Museum] Library (to 1975) holds The Coole edition of Lady Gregory’s works. (General editors: T. R. Henn ... Colin Smythe.). Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1970- . 23 cm. [2] Thoor Ballylee-Home of William Butler Yeats. Edited by Liam Miller from a paper given by Mary Hanley to the Kiltartan Society in 1961. With a foreword by T. R. Henn. [With illustrations.]. pp. 31. Dolmen Press: Dublin, 1965. 8o.; [3] Address ... on the occasion of the gift of Duras House, Kinvara to ... Irish Youth Hostel Association, etc. Kinvara, 1961. A folder. 21 cm.; [4] Kipling. [Another copy.]. pp. 141. Oliver & Boyd: Edinburgh & London, 1967. 8o.; [5] Longinus and English Criticism. pp. 163. University Press: Cambridge, 1934. 8o.; [6] Passages for Divine Reading. Selected by Thomas Rice Henn. [By various authors.]. pp. 150. Hodder & Stoughton: London, [1963.] 8o.; [7] Practical Fly-Tying ... With ... photographs and ... drawings. pp. 127. Adam & Charles Black: London, 1950. 8o.; [8] Science in Writing, etc. pp. 248. George G. Harrap & Co.: London, 1960. 8o.; [9] Shooting a Bat, and other poems. F.P. pp. 42. Golden Head Press: Cambridge, 1964. 8o.; [10] The Apple and the Spectroscope. Being lectures on poetry designed, in the main, for science students, etc. (School edition.) [With plates.] [A reissue.] The Apple and the spectroscope, etc. [Another issue.] The apple and the spectroscope, etc. pp. xix. 165. Methuen & Co.: London, 1963. 8o. London, 1965. 8o. 1967. The Apple and the Spectroscope. Being lectures on poetry designed, in the main, for science students, etc. pp. xix. 165. Methuen & Co.: London, 1951. 8o.; [12] The Harvest of Tragedy. (Second edition.) [With plates.]. pp. xv. 304. Methuen & Co.: London, 1966. 8o.; [13] The Harvest of Tragedy. [With plates.]. pp. xv. 304. Methuen & Co.: London, 1956. 8o.; [14] The living image: Shakespearean essays. London: Methuen, 1972. ISBN 0 416 66220 X xi, 147 p. 23 cm.; [15] The Lonely Tower. Studies in the poetry of W. B. Yeats. (Second edition, revised, enlarged and reset.) [With plates, including a portrait.]. pp. xxiv. 375. Methuen & Co.: London, 1965. 8o.; [16] The Lonely Tower. Studies in the poetry of W. B. Yeats. [With plates, including a portrait.]. pp. xx. 362. Methuen & Co.: London, 1950. 8o.; [17] Riders to the Sea, and In the Shadow of the Glen. With introduction and notes by T. R. Henn. pp. 111. Methuen & Co.: London, 1961. 8o.; [18] The Playboy of the Western World ... With an introduction and notes by T. R. Henn. pp. 125. Methuen & Co.: London, 1960. 8o.; [19] The Playboy of the Western World ... With an introduction by T. R. Henn. pp. 111. Methuen & Co.: London, 1961. 8o.; [20] The Plays and Poems of J. M. Synge. Edited with an introduction and notes by T. R. Henn. pp. xi. 363. Methuen & Co.: London, 1963. 8o. (After 1975) [1] Five arches a sketch for an autobiography and, Philoctetes and other poems T. R. Henn with illustrations by Alan Freer. Gerrard Cross Smythe 1980; [2] Last essays Thomas Rice Henn. Gerrards Cross Smythe 1976; [3] The lonely tower studies in the poetry of W. B. Yeats T. R. Henn. London Methuen 1979; [4] The complete plays J. M. Synge with an introduction and notes by T.R. Henn. Eyre Methuen 1981. (See also COPAC list, attached.)

Dictionary of National Biography notes that a Thomas Rice Henn (1849-1880), lieut. Royal Engineers, fell at Maiwand.

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Notes
Husbandmen?!: Acc. Henn, the shudder in “Leda and the Swan” ‘is of the sexual act, the moment of orgasm, as all husbandmen know; but it is also anticipation in fear.’ (Lonely Tower, 256-67; quoted in A. N. Jeffares, New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984, p.249).

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Snipe: Derek Mahon reminisces that ‘the late T. R. Henn estimated the weight of the human soul as that of a mature snipe.’ (Journalism, Oldcastle: Gallery 1996, p.100). Mahon calls the soul ‘animula parvula’ after the Roman emperor-philosopher and stoic Marcus Aurelius.

Cf. the sentence in Yeats’s Celtic Twilight (1893, 1902): ‘A wicked sea-captain stayed for years inside the plaster of a cottage wall, in the shape of a snipe, making the most horrible noises. He was only dislodged when the wall was broken down; then out of the solid plaster the snipe rushed away whistling.’ (The Celtic Twilight, London: Bullen 1902 [Edn.], p.34.)

Note Seamus Heaney’s verse: ‘My friend says that the human soul / is about the weight of a snipe, / yet the soul at anchor there, / the strings that sags and ascends, / weights like a furrow assumed into heaven.’ (“A Kite for Michael and Christopher”, in Station Island (1984), rep. in Opened Ground, 1998, pp.231-32; here 231.) The poem “Chekhov on Sakhalin” in the same collection is dedicated to Derek Mahon (rep. Opened Ground, p.215.)

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Namesake: note that Captain Henn in “Midsummer Night’s Madness”, a story by Seán Ó Faoláin, is an Anglo-Irish roué whose house is occupied by the IRA commandant Stevey Long, and who has formed a relationship a half-tinker servant Gypsy causing her to become pregnant (and resulting in his marriage to her). David Norris comments: ‘[...] finally, and indeed remarkably, [the narrator] is united in feeling not with his [IRA] military ally Stevey, but with his traditional enemy, old Henn. And the reaon? Quite simply, these two characters alone share in the story something deeper, more permanent, than divisions of class, ideology or age - the ability to respond joyously, imaginatively to the experiences of life.’ (See David Norris, ‘Imaginative Response versus Authority Structures [... &c.]’, in The Irish Short Story, ed Patrick Rafroidi & Terence Brown, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1979, p.56-57.)

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