Patrick Kavanagh - Criticism: Shorter views ....

Hubert Butler: ‘[Patrick Kavanagh] would sooner repudiate Irish nationalism than acknowledge any cultural indebtedness to Anglo-Ireland [...] What Mr. Kavanagh is trying to do is to by-pass Anglo-Ireland on the way to the heart of London. […] The Anglo-Irish were not only the cruel stepmothers of Gaelic civilisation, they were also the indulgent nurses and governesses of Irish literature in the English language.’ (‘Envoy and Mr Kavanagh’ [1954], in Escape from the Anthill, Lilliput Press 1985, pp.156-57.)

Brendan Kennelly, ‘Patrick Kavanagh’, in Ariel, July 1970), calls Kavanagh ‘[T]he only great poet who never wrote an obscure poem.’ (p.11; also in Sean Lucy, op. cit. [infra], 1973, p.164. Further: ‘[The later Kavanagh] realises that nothing matters but his own freedom and the integrity of his imagination.’ (Ibid., p.17.)

Alan Warner, ‘I know of no writer who is more aware of the beauty of weeds.’ ( Clay is the Word, 1973, p.72; see also Kavanagh’s reaction to Warner’s proposed biography.)

Michael Allen: ‘[T]he minute particulars of Dublin as locale […] allow the affectionate superimposition of one provincial milieu upon another, the discovery in concrete terms that we are provincials everywhere.’ (In Douglas Dunn, ed., Two Decades of Irish Writing, 1975, p.32.)

Anthony Cronin: ‘Kavanagh was […] a direct poet. His subtleties are the subtleties of perception not of elaboration.’ ([“Ireland’s Eye”,] in The Irish Times, 1977).

Paul Durcan: ‘ an old Northsider tell his missus / He was pure straight; God rest him; not like us.’ (“November 1967” [elegy for Kavanagh], in A Snail in My Prime, London: Harvill, 1993, p.3; rep. in The Selected Paul Durcan, ed. Edna Longley, 1982, p.8.). See also “What Shall I Wear, Darling, to The Great Hunger”, in Going Home to Russia (1987), p.23.

Adele Dalsimer: ‘Wherever [Kavanagh] was, he wanted to be somewhere else. Whether in Iniskeen or Dublin, London or New York, he wanted to go everywhere or simply back where he had been.’ ([Q. title,] in Maurice Harmon, ed., The Irish Writer and the City, Gerrards Cross 1984, q.p.)

Declan Kiberd: ‘Kavanagh repents of the paddy-whackery of The Green Fool with a lifetime of linguistic self-denial.’ (Anglo-Irish Attitudes [Field Day Pamphlets, No. 6], Derry 1984, p.19.)

Dillon Johnston: ‘If he demonstrated the great value of poetic insight, he also showed how quickly this frail gift can expire.’ (”Kavanagh and Heaney’, in Irish Poetry After Joyce, Notre Dame UP 1985, pp.121-66.)

Maurice Harmon: ‘[Kavanagh’s] work at its best responds feelingly to the seasonal flowering of nature which contrasts so strongly with the withering of men and women into barrenness through a too faithful obedience to the Church’s stern laws against sexual indulgence.’ ([Q. title,] in Masaru Sekine, ed., Irish Writers and Society at Large , Gerrards Cross, 1985, pp.37-38.)

John Hewitt: Rory Brennan, reviewing Antoinette Quinn’s Patrick Kavanagh: A Biography (2003), in Books Ireland (Feb. 2004), recalls Hewitt telling him that Kavanagh left a handful of truly memorable poems and a screed of doggerel. (p.20.)

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