Melissa Dinsman


Much has been written about the right-wing politics and eugenicist sympathies of Yeats’s late-1930s poetry in general and about On the Boiler in particular. Yeats’s focus on Ireland’s degeneration and his calls for its regeneration through cultural (and even biological methods) coincided with his dalliance with the Irish Blueshirts and his frustrations with the transformations of the Irish Free State under Éamon de Valera. However, these years also proved to be Yeats’s most active in terms of radio broadcasting, with six of his nine broadcasts made between 1937 and 1938. In this essay, I read Yeats’s broadcasts, in particular “In the Poet’s Pub,” “In the Poet’s Parlour,” and “My Own Poetry” alongside On the Boiler to show how themes of degeneration and regeneration link these works. As a medium, radio could advance the cultural degeneration and pandering to the masses to which Yeats was opposed. However, it was also within radio’s capabilities to control modes of broadcasting, influencing the public and regenerating Irish culture through the dissemination of poetry.