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Representation in Modern Irish Poetry

  • Eamonn Hughes
Part of the New Casebooks book series (NECA)

Abstract

The introduction to The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry claims ‘to extend the imaginative franchise’.1 The anthology functions as a Representation of the Poet’s Act, suggesting that somewhere, a poetic equivalent of Westminster, there are those who hold the power to extend the franchise. Seamus Heaney’s response to the anthology, An Open Letter, is at root a declaration of independence, an expressed desire not to be represented at a poetic Westminster. But there are problems with this declaration of independence. Seamus Deane has spoken of how Heaney caresses the intimacies of the Anglo-Irish connection and we live in a world of interdependencies in which such intimacies cannot simply be rejected, constituting as they do our reality. Rejecting them does not return us to a pristine origin; it leaves us instead in a void. The usual questions which arise from such considerations are about how the Irish are (mis)represented. Instead, I want to consider how certain Irish writers represent other cultures, particularly England’s.

Keywords

Corporal Punishment Black Painting Penguin Book Political Knowledge Open Letter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion, ‘Introduction’, The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry (Harmondsworth, 1982), p. 20.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The two most recent studies of Heaney — Neil Corcoran, Seamus Heaney (London, 1986)Google Scholar
  3. and Elmer Andrews, The Poetry of Seamus Heaney (London, 1988) — follow the usual pattern of concentrating discussion of Part II on ‘Exposure’.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Paul Muldoon, Meeting the British (London, 1987).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Seamus Heaney, North (London, 1975), p. 65.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Tom Paulin, Liberty Tree (London, 1983), p. 33.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Tom Paulin, Fivemiletown (London, 1987).Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    George Watson, ‘An uncomfortable, spikey poet’, Irish Literary Supplement 7:2 (Fall 1988), 33.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Blake Morrison, Seamus Heaney (London, 1982), ch. 4.Google Scholar
  10. See also: Simon Curtis, ‘Seamus Heaney’s North’, Critical Quarterly 18:1 (Spring 1976), 80–3, 83;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Edna Longley, ‘Fire and Air’, The Honest Ulsterman 50 (Winter 1975), 179–83, 182;Google Scholar
  12. Douglas Dunn, ‘Mañana is now’, Encounter 45 (Nov. 1975), 76–81, 76, 77; Conor Cruise O’Brien, ‘A Slow North-east Wind’, The Listener (25 Sept. 1975), pp. 404–5.Google Scholar
  13. 9.
    Stan Smith, ‘Writing a Will, Yeats’s Ancestral Voices in‘ “The Tower” and “Meditations in Time of Civil War” ’, Irish University Review 13:1 (Spring 1983), 14–37.Google Scholar
  14. 10.
    Julia Kristeva, ‘Word, Dialogue and Novel’, in Desire in Language (Oxford, 1980), p. 65.Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    V. N. Volisinov, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language trans. Ladislav Matejka and I.R. Titunik (Cambridge, MA, 1986), pp. 73–81: the direct quotations are on pp. 75, 81 and 73 respectively.Google Scholar
  16. 12.
    W.B. Yeats, The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats (New York, 1964), p. 312.Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics trans. Wade Baskin, intro. Jonathan Culler (London, 1974), p. 9. See also Culler’s ‘Introduction’, pp. xvii—xviii and Blake Morrison, Seamus Heaney p. 15, n. 2 for Heaney’s own sense of this issue.Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    Patrick Kavanagh, ‘Epic’, Collected Poems (London, 1972), p. 136. Allusions will be identified in the notes where appropriate.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (London, 1968), pp. 51–2 — the ‘pandy bat’ incident.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Seamus Deane, ‘Unhappy and at Home, an Interview with Seamus Heaney’, The Crane Bag 1 (Spring 1977), 61–7, 63. See also Blake Morrison, Seamus Heaney p. 44, n. 42.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘Frost at Midnight’, 11.72, in Poetical Works ed. E.H. Coleridge (London, 1969), p. 242; William Wordsworth, The Prelude Book 1, 11.370–1. There is a slight Orwellian allusion here.Google Scholar
  22. 25.
    Patrick Kavanagh, Collected Pruse (London, 1967), pp. 282–3Google Scholar
  23. and Seamus Heaney, Preoccupations: Selected Prose, 1968–1978 (London, 1980), pp. 29, 35; Lawrence, of course, being a ‘voice of education’.Google Scholar
  24. 26.
    Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, Selected Essays (London, 1975), p. 242.Google Scholar
  25. 29.
    F.S.L. Lyons, Ireland since the Famine (London, 1973), p. 761.Google Scholar
  26. 30.
    G.M. Hopkins, Poems and Prose, selected and introduced by W.H. Gardner (Harmondsworth, 1953 ), p. 30.Google Scholar
  27. 31.
    W.B. Yeats, The Poems: A New Edition ed. R.J. Finneran (London, 1983), pp. 319–21. This poem’s presence is felt throughout North.Google Scholar
  28. 33.
    See Antonio J. Oneiva, A New Complete Guide to the Prado Gallery trans. P.M. O’Neill, new edn rev. Miriam Finkelman (Madrid, 1966), p. 182.Google Scholar
  29. See also Hugh Thomas, Goya: The Third of May, 1808 (London, 1972);Google Scholar
  30. F.D. Klingender, Goya in a Democratic Tradition intro. Herbert Read (London, 1948);Google Scholar
  31. G.A. Williams, Goya and the Impossible Revolution (London, 1976), for accounts of the historical and political background to Goya’s work which enables Heaney’s analogy.Google Scholar
  32. 35.
    Seamus Heaney, ‘Introduction’ in Michael McLaverty, The Collected Short Stories (Dublin, 1978), p. 7.Google Scholar
  33. 37.
    See A Portrait pp. 189–90, John Montague, The Rough Field 3rd edn (Dublin, 1979), p. 19Google Scholar
  34. and Thomas Kinsella, ‘Death Bed’, New Poems 1973 (Dublin, 1973).Google Scholar
  35. 38.
    Neil Corcoran, Seamus Heaney pp. 124–6; and see Seamus Heaney, The Government of the Tongue (London, 1989), p. 72.Google Scholar
  36. 40.
    Seamus Heaney, Field Work (London, 1979).Google Scholar
  37. 41.
    Seamus Heaney, Station Island (London, 1984).Google Scholar
  38. 42.
    Seamus Heaney, The Haw Lantern (London, 1987).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eamonn Hughes

There are no affiliations available

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