Since his death in 1963, Louis MacNeice's critical standing has risen steadily. This new study addresses the contexts of MacNeice's writings which are of greatest relevance to his place in modern poetry: his problematic, and still controversial relationship with Ireland and his significancefor the understanding of the largely English `thirties generation' with which he is often identified. The influence of these contexts upon the nature of MacNeice's poetic development is studied in detail here together with the important questions of his relation to Yeats and Modernism. The bookexamines MacNeice's conception of parable as key imaginative response to these influences, and it includes the first study of the poet's revealing and little-known early writings. Peter McDonald demonstrates that MacNeice is a central figure in modern Irish and British poetry of greater substantialcomplexity than is often thought, and suggests that his through his work we should see its contexts in a challenging new light.