John F. Deane, ed., Irish Poetry of Faith and Doubt (1991)

Ireland is know for its tenacious belief in God: our early poetry, in Gaelic or Latin, is rich and lyrical in its response to that God, but that is not my concern here. The theme of this anthology is the vacillation, indignation and occasional rapture that Irish poets have experienced in their response, as poets, to religious faith. [12]

Quotes Frances Alexander: ‘The writer’s wish would be to prolong the child’s love of the glorious Old Testament stories, by throwing round them something of the poetical tinge which is attractive to almost every mind in opening youth; and thus to connect associations of quiet pleasure with the examples of holy life, and the doctrines of saving truth, which the Bible contains in such exceeding abundance.’ (Poems on Subjects in the Old Testament, n.d.; here p.12.)

Calls John Kells Ingram’s ‘Utinam Viderem’ the first Irish poem to urge a complete humanism … from a sonnet sequence stirred by the postivism of Auguste Comte [12]

In the Great Hunger Kavanagh’s poor hero, Maguire, has a hunger for life that is totally unfulfilled; the Chruch has made an evil thing, a valley of tears, mined with temptations, every signpost at every crossroads pointing towards Hell and damnation. [14]

Louis MacNeice, growing up in a zealot faith which served only to lead men towards despair, also found despair in any form of humanism. …. MacNeice’s poetry charts his personal decline from faith into gnawing emptiness [14]

And yet Padraic Fallon succeeded in a poetry that is religious in the traditional sense and is also perhaps our finest achievement; it succeeds because the trappings of faith so beloved in Ireland, the statues, the beads, the rules, the dogmas, are ignores and the mystery [14] of religion is fully internalised. His poems are profoundly personal, not side-tracked by any shifts in social conditions, and yet the poems remain fully alert to the ultimate mystery that remains in any religious faith. He is a clear, unsentimental eye, his religious poetry remains rich and valuable in a perennially satisfying way. [15]

Dates; Ewart Milne, 1903-1984; Robert Farren, 1909-1985;

John Ennis, now lects. At Regional College, Waterford.

Kevin Faller, 1920-1983; b. Galway City; worked in Dublin with publishers and newspapers from 1945; radio plays; Selected Poems (1982).

Padraic Fallon did not publish until 1974 (d.1974).

Hartnett lived in Dublin, London, and Madrid, settling in Limerick in 1974.

Francis Harvey, 1925-, banker; b. Fermanagh; lives in Donegal; two collections with Gallery.

Pearse Hutchinson, Gregory Fellow in Poetry, Unbiv. Of Leeds, 1971-73.

Ingram ‘scared of the implications of his earlier ballad’.

Kennelly, Medea won Irish Critics Harvey’s Award (1988)

Jerome Keily, 1925- , b. Kinsale, ed. Diocesan Coll., Cork, and Maynooth; ord. 1950; priest in Cork; Adam Prize for poetry, 1956.

Liddy, Winsconsin U.

Paul Murray, 1947- , b. Newcastle, Co. Down; ed. Belfast; Dominican since 1966; teaches at Dominican Studium, Tallaght.

Gerard Smythe, 1951- , journ. With Irish Times; 3 colls.; latest is Painting the Pnk Roses Black (Dedalus n.d.)

Selection incls. under Seamus Heaney, ‘Docker’, ‘Poor Woman in a City Church’, ‘In Gallarus Oratory’, ‘The Other Side’, ‘In Illo Tempore’ [155-58]; of Derek Mahon, ‘Nostaglias’ [159]

[ back ]
 
[ top ]