By Andrew J. Auge
A Chastened Communion strains a brand new course during the well-traversed box of contemporary Irish poetry through revealing how serious engagement with Catholicism shapes the trajectory of the poetic careers of Austin Clarke, Patrick Kavanagh, John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan, and Paula Meehan.
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Additional resources for A Chastened Communion: Modern Irish Poetry and Catholicism
S. Eliot’s promotion of them over the Romantics and Victorians in the English literary canon. The cultivation of the paradoxes inherent in Christianity, the playful exploitation of doctrinal niceties, the penchant for wrenched syntax and catachrestic metaphors—all of these qualities infused the religious poetry of the Metaphysicals with dramatic intensity of an authentic spiritual struggle. And they have a similar effect in Devlin’s early poem, “Est Prodest,” which Beckett highlighted in his review.
It is not surprising, therefore, that in his initial reaction against this modern instrument of ecclesiastical control Clarke turned to the distant cultural past for aid. 2 Austin Clarke began his poetic career with redactions of the foundational myths of the Gaelic past, The Vengeance of Fionn (1917) and The Sword of the West (1921). This belated attempt to align his work with the previous generation’s grand project of cultural renascence reflects both the young poet’s insecurity and his ambition.
While the poetry of Eavan Boland (1944–) challenges the code of female domesticity sanctioned by the Irish Catholic Church, it is the critique of the nationalist mythos of Mother Ireland that ultimately drives her poetry. The ludic experimentation with form and language that has elevated Paul Muldoon I n t roduc t ion | 15 (1951–) to a position of prominence in both Irish and American poetic circles touches only tangentially upon Catholic themes. With Thomas Kinsella (1928–), the omission is perhaps more debatable.
A Chastened Communion: Modern Irish Poetry and Catholicism by Andrew J. Auge