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Often, the writers who praised them were prosperous city-dwellers.

A Poet's Country : Patrick Kavanagh Selected Prose. (eBook, ) [zopusalawyky.ga]

Kavanagh grew up in the peasant life that many who took part in the Irish Renaissance had only encountered as a subject for literature. Son of a shoemaker who owned a small farm, Kavanagh was born in a rural area of county Monaghan in the north of Ireland. He left school at about the age of twelve and thereafter largely taught himself about literature. Years later when he talked about his past for the "Self Portrait" series on Irish television, Kavanagh recalled the intellectual deprivation of his youth.

They live in the dark cave of the unconscious and they scream when they see the light. Such early rejection, Nemo stressed, caused Kavanagh to believe that a poet was inevitably alienated from society. Though he wrote poems regularly for his own enjoyment by the time he was a teenager, Kavanagh seemed likely to become a small farmer. But in his mid-twenties he succeeded in publishing poems in two non-literary periodicals, the Irish Weekly Independent and the Dundalk Democrat. This was an astonishing accomplishment to his rural neighbors, but critics have seen defects in these early works comparable to those of many other amateur poets, such as an awkward use of language and simplistic appeals to sentiment.

Kavanagh, however, soon distinguished himself by surpassing his early limitations. In he chanced upon a copy of the Irish Statesman , a periodical that regularly published the work of major Irish writers and was edited by George Russell, a leader of the Literary Renaissance. A philosopher devoted to religious mysticism who wrote prose and poetry under the name A. He rejected Kavanagh's first submissions to the Statesman but encouraged the aspiring poet to try again. After Russell published some later submissions in and , Kavanagh walked fifty miles to Dublin to visit him personally, and as a result Russell became Kavanagh's literary adviser, giving him books by such writers as Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Walt Whitman , Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Browning.

With Russell's help Kavanagh gained access to Dublin's literary society, based largely on his unique status as an authentic peasant and poet. Shortly after Russell's death in , Kavanagh's first book, Ploughman and Other Poems , was published by Macmillan in its series on contemporary poets.

In this collection the amateurish quality of Kavanagh's earliest work has yielded to more polished poems, many of which have a dreamy, lyrical quality that often characterizes the poetry of Russell and other writers of the Literary Renaissance.

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Some critics thought Kavanagh had yet to prove himself a major poet. Two years after Ploughman was published, the Times Literary Supplement called him "a young Irish poet of promise rather than of achievement," and Derek Verschoyle said in Spectator that "like other poets admired by A. Kavanagh's lyrics are for the most part slight and conventional, easily enjoyed but almost as easily forgotten. In this book, which he later revealed was as much novel as autobiography, Kavanagh recounts his rural childhood and his struggles as a budding writer, and while doing so he provides a wide-ranging portrait of Irish society.

The book gave Kavanagh international recognition, with favorable reviews appearing in prominent publications in England and the United States. Critics have been impressed by Kavanagh's skillful balance between sentiment and humor. Horace Reynolds observed in the New York Times Book Review that The Green Fool "has both beauty and sharpness in it," and biographer Alan Warner said that Kavanagh's "romanticism is balanced by a shrewd ironic sense of the ridiculous. A passage of sentimental dreaming is quickly followed by the sharp edge of reality.

In other parts of the book, the author provides a witty description of the literary world. Reynolds, for instance, quoted Kavanagh's remarks that Ralph Waldo Emerson was "a sugary humbug" and that Walt Whitman "tried to bully his way to prophecy. As Warner remarked, "I think that one reason why he expressed such intense dislike of the book in his later years is that in it he accepts unequivocally, at times even exploits, his position as peasant poet.

He speaks of his acute embarrassment in AE's drawing room at his hob-nailed boots and the patches on the knees of his trousers. He writes his book through the eyes of an Irish peasant who. In the late s Kavanagh decided to leave farm life permanently and pursue a literary career in Dublin.

The choice was difficult, for, as his brother Peter recalled in the biography Sacred Keeper , Kavanagh "loved the fields but detested the society" of his fellow peasants. When Kavanagh moved to Dublin, he hoped that its people would be more hospitable to him as an artist. Instead, as Nemo related, "he realized that the stimulating environment he had imagined was little different from the petty and ignorant world he had left.

He soon saw through the literary masks many Dublin writers wore to affect an air of artistic sophistication. To him such men were dandies, journalists, and civil servants playing at art. His disgust was deepened by the fact that he was treated as the literate peasant he had been rather than as the highly talented poet he believed he was in the process of becoming. Uncomfortable in both the urban and rural cultures of Ireland, and painfully aware of the flaws of both, he rejected the role of peasant poet that had helped make him socially acceptable, becoming known instead for his outspoken pronouncements on Irish society.

Having seen the nationalist myths dissolve, disheartened by the values of the developing society, the better Irish writers had by turned caustically critical. In writing this unsentimental, sometimes bitter look at one peasant's life, Kavanagh not only confronted the unpleasant side of his background but by implication repudiated those members of the Literary Renaissance who sentimentalized rural Ireland. The poem tells the story of Patrick Maguire, a peasant who, in the cautious way of many Irish peasants after the devastating famines of the mid-nineteenth century, postpones marriage and children while improving his small farm and increasing his meager wealth.

Gradually Maguire realizes that his own virtuous self-denial—his industriousness, devotion to an aging mother, and adherence to the moral teachings of the Catholic church—has led him to emotional desolation. Too old and too tied to his land, he will remain unmarried and isolated, a common fate in the Ireland of Kavanagh's day. In this poem, Kavanagh's lyrical evocations of the beauty of the countryside merely heighten the sense of Maguire's sorrow. Critics have praised the skillful mixture of poetic voices and rhythms in the work, ranging from resonant lines reminiscent of an angry prophet to the short, sharp phrases of simple annoyance.

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When "The Great Hunger" was reprinted in Collected Poems in , New York Times Book Review contributor Richard Murphy called it "a great work" that conveys "a terrible and moving image of human frustration"; in Poetry , Robin Skelton hailed it as "a vision of mythic intensity. Since he supported himself by writing a large amount of prose for periodicals as a free-lancer, columnist, and reviewer of books and films, Kavanagh had many opportunities to judge the state of Irish culture. His enthusiasm for such assessments grew so great that in he enlisted his brother's aid in publishing a short-lived periodical, Kavanagh's Weekly , as a forum for his views.

Kavanagh's opinions were often negative, and even the author's admirers acknowledge that he expressed them in a fashion that was blunt,at times harsh. Destruction was necessary because it was the critic's function to save good writing from being submerged in the general flattery of the mediocre. When a selection of his opinion pieces appeared in the humorously-titled Collected Pruse , a reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement called them "painful to read" and added that "most of the specific judgments are mean.

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Kavanagh was less successful, however, when he used poetry to comment on Irish culture. In a series of verse satires, Kavanagh's targets range from individual writers and their work to the whole of his country's literary society.

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In the verse play "Adventures in the Bohemian Jungle," Kavanagh depicts himself as a simple, virtuous "Countryman" who journeys through a corrupt and amoral world in a futile search for good art and admirable artists. Critics have generally been disappointed in all these poems, suggesting that the satire is consistently compromised by bitterness.

When several of the works appeared in Collected Poems , a reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement said that they "lack the sting of wit and infallibility of standpoint that true satire demands.

In O'Brien's analysis, when the aspiring reformer found himself unsuccessful, a sense of failure and isolation was the natural consequence. For instance, "To Be Dead," later published in Come Dance With Kitty Stobling , discusses the death of poetic creativity, and "I Had a Future," later published in Collected Poems , shows Kavanagh's feeling that he had not fulfilled the promise he showed as a young author.

Sometimes Kavanagh escaped from the disappointments he found in Dublin by returning in his imagination to the Irish countryside. In the novel Tarry Flynn , he examines the same scenes of youth he earlier surveyed in The Green Fool , and he has garnered similar praise for an accurate depiction of peasant life. But as Warner suggested, while The Green Fool offers an extensive view of Irish society, Tarry Flynn focuses more specifically on the dilemma of an aspiring poet who feels isolated from his rural community by his own talent.

Reynolds pointed out in Saturday Review of Literature that the novel seems more autobiographical than The Green Fool , which is supposedly an autobiography. Its verve and musicality, poignancy and pitch, rage and glory, expresses as no other the voice of rural Ireland. Lilliput Press — July 13, A masterpiece of reality, wise words and beautiful language.

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