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Poetry & Responsibility$
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Neil Corcoran

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380352

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380352.001.0001

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The Celebration of Waiting

The Celebration of Waiting

Moments in the History of Modern Irish Poetry and the Visual Arts

(p.107) Chapter 7 The Celebration of Waiting
Poetry & Responsibility

Neil Corcoran


Arguing that Yeats's very strong interest in the visual arts almost of itself programmed such an interest in a succeeding generation of Irish poets, this chapter demonstrates the relationship – in Yeats himself, and then in John Montague, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley and Seamus Heaney. The chapter argues that ekphrasis – the writing of poems on paintings – is a prominent element of modern Irish poetry and that it has various effects: personal, social, cultural and political. Individual poems are read to uncover such things as: an exploration of the gallery as post-religious cultural space; the rendering of pictorial stasis as literary narrative; attitudes to Irish political violence meditated and mediated out of art history; the ambivalences of poems written about self-representation by painters. The chapter centrally includes a long discussion of Derek Mahon's famous poem ‘Courtyards in Delft’ and Seamus Heaney's ‘A Basket of Chestnuts'.

Keywords:   Irish, Poetry, Visual Arts, Mahon, Heaney

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