Shakespeare is a major influence on poets writing in English, but the dynamics of that influence in the twentieth century have never been as closely analysed as they are in this important study. More than an account of the ways in which Shakespeare is figured in both the poetry and the critical prose of modern poets, this book presents a provocative new view of poetic interrelationship. Focusing on W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, Neil Corcoran uncovers the relationships - combative as well as sympathetic - between these poets themselves as they are intertwined in their engagements with Shakespeare. Corcoran offers many enlightening close readings, fully alert to contemporary theoretical debates. This original study of influence and reception beautifully displays the nature of poetic influence - both of Shakespeare on the twentieth century, and among modern poets as they respond to Shakespeare.