19 JULY 1957, Page 32


SIR,—May I, as the person responsible for the Sunday Times footnote to 'The Gyres,' answer Pharos?

Richard Ellmann in The Identity of Yeats, p. 154, says that Old Rocky Face 'is the Delphic Oracle, who spoke through a cleft in the rock,' an interpretation confirmed by the phrase: 'Out of cavern comes a voice.'

I am content to follow Mr. Ellmann and leave others to determine whether he or Pharos is the more reliable guide to the poetry of W. B. Yeats.— Yours faithfully, JOHN PRESS 37 Barton Road, Cambridge [Pharos writes : 'Nobody has more respect than myself for Mr. Richard Ellmann as an interpreter of Yeats, but I would suggest that these things are better decided by recourse to the text than by an appeal to authority. Given the close connection of 'The Gyres and 'The Second Coming'—the 'gyres' occur in both poems and the themes are the same; indeed, the later poem almost seems to be a sequel to the earlier —it seems to me that Rocky Face refers back to the stone beast whose emergence in the one poem symbolises the coming of anarchy—the exact counter- part of Rocky Face's role in the other.'—Editor, Spectator.]