Patrick Kavanagh: Quotations

File 1: Poetry

In Ealing, Broadway, London Town I name their several names / Until a world comes to life - / Morning, the silent bog, / And the God of imagination waking / In a Mucker bog’ (“Kerr’s Ass”; Collected Poems, p.135.)

'My hegira was to the Grand Canal where again I saw the beauty of water and green grass and the magic of light. It was the same emotion as I had known when I stood on a sharp slope in Monaghan, where I imaginatively stand now, looking across to Slieve Gullion and South Armagh.’ (Self-Portrait, Dolmen Press 1964, p.23)

It is anxiety about what is going to happen next week, it is about lack of enlightenment to get out, it is about living in the dark cage of the unconscious and screaming when you see the light.’ (“Self Portrait”, RTE 1963 [pub. 1964]; quoted in Hilary Fannin, TV review, The Irish Times, 4 Dec. 2004.)

Reading Texts

Note: An abstract of all quotations incorporated in Brendan Kennelly,
‘Patrick Kavanagh’, in Ariel (July 1970), is available - as attached.

“On Raglan” - read by Tom O’Bedlam online; see full text - infra.


“Inniskeen Road: July Evening”
“Tarry Flynn (verse)”
“The Great Hunger”
“Art McCooey”
“The Defeated”
“Auditors In”
“God in Woman”

“After 40 Years of Age”
“Having Confessed”
“Who Killed James Joyce?”
“James Joyce’s Ulysses
“Kerr’s Ass”
“Canal Bank Walk”
“Lines Written on a Seat ...”
“The Hospital”
“Come Dance with Kitty Stobling”
“In Memory of My Mother”
“Question to Life ”

“Stony Grey Soil”
“Lough Derg”
“In Memory of Br. Michael”
“A Wreath for Tom Moore’s Statue”
“A Child’s Christmas”
“Christmas 1939”
“They laughed at one I loved ...”
Hell of unfaith


The Green Fool (1938)
Tarry Flynn (1948)
By Night Unstarred (1977)
Kavanagh’s Weekly 1952)
Self-Portrait (1964)

“Author’s Note” (1964)
“Playboys of the Western World” (1942)
“The Gallivanting Poet” (1947)
“Poetry in Ireland To-day” (1948
“Nationalism & Literature”

“The Irish Tradition”
“The Parish & the Universe”
“James Joyce” [Envoy, 1951]

Sundry views ...

Irish Literary Revival
On The Great Hunger
More on James Joyce

On the comic muse
Peasant defined
Irish Civil War
Ulster poets

Dublin City
Corkery or Auden?
The Capuchin Annual

See critical articles in longer extract and full-text versions -
  “Poetry in Ireland To-Day” (The Bell, 1948)
“The Parish and the Universe” (Kavanagh's, 1952)
“The Irish Tradition” (The Bell, Sept. 1953)
“From Monaghan to the Grand Canal” (Studies, 1959)
“Nationalism and Literature” (Non-plus, Oct. 1959)
—in RICORSO Library, “Critical Classics”, index

‘To be a poet and not know the trade / To be a lover and repel all women; / Twin ironies by which great saints are made, / the agonising princer-jaws of Heaven.’ (“Sanctity”; quoted in Sr. Una Agnew [Order of St. Louis], The Mystical Imagination of Patrick Kavanagh: A Buttonhole in Heaven?, Dublin: Columba Press 1998, p.122.)

[ A full text version ]

FromA Childhood Christmas

I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.
I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife’s big blade -
There was a little one for cutting tobacco.
And I was six Christmases of age.
My father played the melodion,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary's blouse.

—Posted on Facebook by Eunice Yeates, Xmas 2016.

Ploughman”: ‘I turn the lea-green down / Gaily now, / And paint the meadow brown / With my plough. // I dream with silvery gull / And brazen crow. / A thing that is beautiful / I may know. // Tranquillity walks with me / And no care. O, the quiet ecstasy / Like a prayer. // I find a star-lovely art / In a dark sod. / Joy that is timeless! / O heart That knows God!’ (Collected Poems, London: MacGibbon & Kee 1964, 1968, p.3.)

From Tarry Flynn”: ‘On an apple-ripe September morning / Through the mist-chill fields I went / With a pitch-fork on my shoulder / Less for use than for devilment. // The threshing mill was set-up, I knew, / In cassidy’s haggard last night, / And we owed them a day at the threshing / Since last year. O it was delight // To be paying bills of laughter / And chaffy gossip in kind / With work thrown in to ballast / The fantasy-soaring mind. // As I crossed the wooden bridge I wondered / As I looked into the drain / If ever a summer morning should find me / Shovelling up eels again. // And I thought of the wasps’ nest in the bank / And how I got chased one day // Leaving the drag and the scraw-knife behind, / How I covered my face with hay. // The wet leaves of the cocksfoot / Polished my boots as I / Went round by the glistening bog-holes / Lost in unthinking joy. // I’ll be carrying bags to-day, I mused / The best job at the mill / with plenty of time to talk of our loves / As we wait for the bags to fill. // Maybe Mary might call round ... / And then I came to the haggard gate / And I knew as I entered that I had come / Through fields that were part of no earthly estate.’ (Collected Poems, 1964, p.29.)

Inniskeen Road: July Evening”: ‘The bicycles go by in twos and threes / There’s a dance in Billy Brennan’s barn to-night, / And there’s the half-talk code of mysteries / And the wink-and-elbow language of delight. / Half-past eight and there is not a spot / Upon a mile of road, no shadow thrown / That might turn out a man or woman, not / A footfall tapping secrecies of stone. // I have what every poet hates in spite / Of all the solemn talk of contemplation. / Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight / Of being king and government and nation. / A road, a mile of kingdom, I am king / Of banks and stones and every blooming thing.’ (Collected Poems, London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1964, 1968, p.19.)

Shancoduff”: ‘My black hills have never seen the sun rising, / Eternally they look north towards Armagh. / Lot’s wife would not be salt if she had been / Incurious as my black hills that are happy / When dawn whitens Glassdrummond chapel. // My hills hoard the bright shillings of March / While the sun searches in every pocket. / They are my Alps and I have climbed the Matterhorn / With a sheaf of hay for three perishing calves / In the field under the Big Forth of Rocksavage. // The sleety winds fondle the rushy beards of Shancoduff / While the cattle-drovers sheltering in the Featherna Bush / Look up and say: ‘Who owns them hungry hills / That the water-hen and snipe must have forsaken? A poet? / Then by heavens he must be poor’ / I hear and is my heart not badly shaken?’ (Monaghan 1934; Collected Poems, 1964, 1968, p.30.)

The Great Hunger” [written 1942], in Collected Poems (1968 Edn.), pp.34-55. PART I, Clay is the word and clay is the flesh / where the potato gatherers like mechanised scarecrows move / Along the side-fall of the hill - Maguire and his men. […] Is there some light of imagination in these wet clods? […] promised himself marriage soul […] like a bag of wet clay […] though himself wiser than any man in the townland / When he laughed over pints of porter / Of how he came free from every net spread / In the gaps of experience […] pretended to his soul [34] […] Lost in the passion that never needs a wife / The pricks that pricked were the pointed pins of harrows […] what is he looking for their? / He thinks it is a potato, but we know better / Than his mud-gloved fingers probe in this insensitive hair […] Watch him, watch him, that man on a hill whose spirit is a wet sack flapping about the knees of time. / He lives that his little fields may stay fertile when his own body / Is spread in the bottom of the ditch under two coulters crossed in Christ’s Name[…]. O the grip, O the grip of irregular fields. No man escapes. / It could not be that back of the hills love was free / And ditches straight. / No monster had lifted up children and put down apes as here. [35] […] Come with he, Imagination, into this iron house / And we will watch from the doorway the years run back / And we will know what the peasant’s left hand wrote on the page.’ [...; &c.]; see full text in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics ”, infra.]

Art McCooey”: ‘I recover now the time I drove / Cart-loads of dung to an outlying farm - / My foreign possessions of Shancoduff - / With the enthusiasm of a man who sees life simply. // The steam rising from the laod is still / Warm enough to thaw my frosty fingers. / In Donnybrook in Dublin ten years later / I see that empire now and the empire builder. // [...; 76] Wash out the cast with a bucket of water and a wangel / Of wheaten straw. Jupiter look down. Unlearnedly and unreasonably poetry is shaped / Awkwardly but alive in the unmeasured womb.’ [77]

Jungle”: ‘Through the jungle of Pembroke Road / I have dragged myself in terror / Listing ot the lions of Frustration roar, / the anguish of beasts that have had their dinner / And found there was something inside / Gnawing away unsatisfied. // As far as Ballsbridge I walked in wonder, / Down Clyde to Waterloo / Watching the natives pulling the jungle / Grass of Convention to cover the nude / Barbaric buttock where tails-stumps showed / When reason lit up the road. // On Baggot Street Bridge they screeched, / Then dived out of my sight / Into the pools of blackest porter - / till half-past ten of the jungle night / The bubbles came up with toxic smell / From Frustration’s holy well.’ (Collected Poems, 1964, 1968, p.96.)

The Defeated”: ‘Always in pubs I meet them, the defeated, / With a long sweep of the face cyring; / Ridiculous the idea that you have stated - / I lived ten years in that city, and you are lying to say that houses with slate roofs exist, / with windows, wooden floors and rooms upstairs; / A dream, dear friend, there’s no bed gives such rest / As a straw bed evenly spread. There are no powers / Greater than this most ancient barnyard knows. […] Drink up, drink up, the troughs of Paris and / London are no better than your own, /Joyce learned that bitterly in a foreign land. Don’t laugh, there is no answer to that one! Outside this pig-sty life deteriorates, / Civilisation dwindles. We are the last preserve / Of Eden in a world of savage states ... [97.]

Auditors in”: But to get down to the factual - / You are not homosexual. And yet you live without a wife, / A most disorganised sort of life. / You’[v]e not even bred illegitimates / A lonely lecher whom the fates / By a financial trick castrates. ... you are bankrupt by the levy / Imposed upon the ideal ... One cannot but feel sorry, / For the ideal is purgatory ... After prayer I am ready to enter my heart / Indifferent to the props of reputation: / Some feeble sallies of a peasant plantation, / The rotten shafts of a remembered cart / Holding up the conscious crust of art ... I eat the shameful bottom will start ... // ... Away, away on wings like Joyce’s / Mother. Earth is putting my brand new clothes in order / Praying, she says, that I no more ignore her / Yellow buttons she has found in fields at bargain prices. ... ... From the sour soil of a town where all roots canker / I turn away to where the Self reposes / The placeless Heaven that’s under all our noses ... (Collected Poems, MacGibbon & Kee 1964, pp.123-26; Collected Poems, ed. Antoinette Quinn, Allen Lane 2004, pp.179ff.]

Epic”: ‘I have lived in important places, times / When great events were decided, who owned / That half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land / Surrounded by our pitchfork armed claims. / I heard the Duffys shouting “Damn your soul!” / And old MacCabe stripped to the waist, seen / Step the plot defying blue-cast steel - “Here is the march along these stones” / That was the year of the Munich bother. Which / was more important? I inclined / To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin / Till Homer’s ghost came whispering to my mind / He said, I made the Iliad from such a local row. Gods make their own importance’ (Collected Poems, London: MacGibbon & Kee 1964, 1968, p.136.)

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God in Woman”: ‘Now must I search until I have found my God - / Not in an orphanage. He hides / In no humanitarian disguise, / A derelict upon a barren bog; / But in some fantastical ordinary incog: / Behind a well-wrapped convent girl’s eyes, / Or wrapped in middle-class felicities / Among the women of the coffee-shop. / Surely my God is feminine, for Heaven / Is the generous impulse, is contented / With feeding praise to the good. And all / Of these that I have known have come from women. / While men the poet’s tragic light resented, / The spirit that is Woman caressed his soul.’ (Collected Poems, London: MacGibbon & Kee 1964, 1968, p. 147.)

After Forty Years of Age”, ... But that is not enough now. The job is to answer questions / Experience. Tell us what life has taught you. Not just about persons - // Which is futile anyway in the long run- but a concrete, as it were, essence. // The role of the prophet and saviour. To smelt in passion / The commonplaces of life. To take over the functions of a god in a new fashion. / Ah! there is the question to speculate upon in lieu of an answer Collected Poems, London: MacGibbon & Kee 1964, p.148.)

Having Confessed” , ... God cannot catch us / Unless we stay in the unconscious room / Of our hearts. We must be nothing, / Nothing that God may make us something […] Let us lie down again / Deep in anonymous humility and God / May find us worthy material for His hand. [149]

Who Killed James Joyce?”: ‘Who killed James Joyce? / I, said the commentator, / I killed James Joyce / For my graduation. // What weapon was used / To slay mighty Ulysses? / The weapon that was used / Was a Harvard thesis. / How did you bury Joyce? / In a broadcast Symposium. / That’s how we buried Joyce / To a tuneful encomium. / Who carried the coffin out? / Six Dublin codgers / Led into Langham Place / By W. R. Rodgers. // Who said the burial prayers? - / Please do not hurt me - / Joyce was no Protestant, / Surely not Bertie? // Who killed Finnegan? I, said a Yale-man, / I was the man who made / The corpse for the wake man. // And did you get high marks, / The Ph.D.? / I got the B.Litt. / And my master’s degree. // Did you get money / For your Joycean knowledge? / I got a scholarship / To Trinity College. // I made the pilgrimage / In the Bloomsday swelter / From the Martello Tower / To the cabby’s shelter.’ (Envoy, April 1951, p.[12]; rep. in John Ryan, ed., A Bash in the Tunnel: Joyce Joyce by the Irish, Brighton: Clifton Books 1970, p.49; Collected Poems, 1964, 1968, p.117.)

James Joyce’s Ulysses”: The fabled daughters of memory are all pastiche, / God born-clear we desire; / But thoughts are sin and words are soiled / And Nietszschean blood is syphilitic. // The children take delight in levelling the city, / Violently tearing down the walls, / Screeching from the steps of a ruin / Where a broken milk bottle falls.’ (Collected Poems, 1964, 1968, p.120.)

Kerr’s Ass”: ‘We borrowed the loan of Kerr’s big ass / To go to Dundalk with butter, / Brought him home the evening before the market / An exile that night in Mucker. // We heeled up the cart before the door, / We took the harness inside / The straw-stuffed straddle, the broken breeching / With bits of bull-wire tied; // The winkers that had no choke-band, / The collar and the reins ... In Ealing Broadway, London Town / I name their several names / Until a world comes to life / Morning, the silent bog, / And the God of imagination waking / In a Mucker bog.’ (Collected Poems, London: MacGibbon & Kee 1964, p.134.)

Canal Bank Walk”: ‘Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal / Pouring redemption for me, that I do / The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal, / Grow with nature again as before I grew. / The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third / Party to the couple kissing on an old seat, / And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word / Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat. / O unworn world enrapture me, enrapture me in a web / Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech, / Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib / To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech / For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven / From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.’ (Collected Poems, MacGibbon & Kee 1964, p.150.)

Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal [Dublin, ‘Erected to the Memory of Mrs. Dermot O’Brien’]”: ‘O commemorate me where there is water, / Canal water preferably, so stilly / Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother / Commemorate me thus beautifully. / Where by a lock Niagariously roars / The falls for those who sit in the tremendous silence / Of mid-July. No one will speak in prose / Who finds his way to these Parnassian islands. / A swan goes by head low with many apologies, / Fantastic light looks through the eyes of bridges / And look! a barge comes bringing from Athy / And other far-flung towns mythologies. / O commemorate me with no hero-courageous / Tomb - just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.’ (Collected Poems, p.150.)

The Hospital”: ‘A year ago I fell in love with the functional ward / Of a chest hospital: square cubicles in a row / Plain concrete, wash basins - an art lover’s woe, / Not counting how the fellow in the next bed snored. / But nothing whatever is by love debarred, / The common and banal her heat can know. / The corridor led to a stairway and below / Was the inexhaustible adventure of a gravelled yard. // This is what love does to things, the Rialto Bridge, / The main gate that was bent by a heavy lorry, / The seat at the back of the shed that was a suntrap. / Naming these things is the love-act and its pledge; / For we must record love’s mystery without claptrap, / Snatch out of time the passionate transitory.’ (Collected Poems, 1964, 1968, p.153; Collected Poems, ed. Antoinette Quinn, 2003, p.217.)

Come Dance with Kitty Stobling” [1960], ... Once upon a time / I had a myth that was a lie but it served ... ... O dance with Kitty Stobling I outrageously / Cried out-of-sense to them ... I had a very pleasant journey, thank you sincerely / For giving me back my madness, or nearly. (Collected Poems, 1964, p.158.)

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In Memory of My Mother” [I] : ‘I do not think of you lying in the wet clay / Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see / You walking down a lane among the poplars / On your way to the station, or happily / Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday - / You meet me and you say:/ “Don’t forget to see about the cattle -” / Among your earthiest words the angels stray. // And I think of you walking along a headland / Of green oats in June, / So full of repose, so rich with life - / And I see us meeting at the end of a town // On a fair day by accident, after / The bargains are all made and we can walk / Together through the shops and stalls and markets / Free in the oriental streets of thought. / O you are not lying in the wet clay, / For it is a harvest evening now and we / Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight / And you smile up at us - eternally.’ (Collected Poems, London: MacGibbon & Kee 1968, p.163; Collected Poems, ed. Antoinette Quinn, London: Allen Lane 2004, p.129.)

see unpublished poem of the same title:
In Memory of My Mother”: ‘You will have the road gate open, the front door ajar / The kettle boiling and a table set / By the window looking out at the sycamores - / And your loving heart lying in wait. / For me coming up among the poplar trees. / You’ll know my breathing and my walk / And it will be a summer evening on those roads, / Lonely with leaves of thought. / We will be choked with the grief of things growing, // The silence of dark-green air / Life too rich - the nettles, docks and thistles / All answering the prodigal’s prayer. / You will know I am coming though I send no word, / For you were lover who could tell / A man’s thoughts - my thoughts - though I hid them - / Through you I knew Woman and did not fear her spell.’

(Held as MS at UCD; see Patrick Kavanagh Memorial Page, at UCD, Dublin, on behalf of Trustees of the Estate of Katherine Kavanagh; hosted at School of English, TCD [online; accessed 12.05.2008].)

Question to Life”: Surely you would not ask me to have known / Only the passion of primrose banks in May / Which are merely points of departure for the play / And yearning poignancy on their own. / Yet when all is said and done considerable / Portions of living is found in inanimate / Nature ... the passing gift of affection / Tossed from the windows of high charity / In the office girl and civil service section / And these are no despicable commodity. / So be reposed and praise praise / The way it happened and the way it is [164]; I protest here and now and forever / On behalf of all my peoples who believe in Verse / That my intention is not satire but humaneness / An eagerness to understand more about sad man, / Frightened man, the workers of the world / Without being savaged in the process / Broadness is my aim, a broad road where the many / Can see life easier - generally. [167].

Stony Grey Soil”: ‘O stony grey soil of Monaghan / The laugh from my love you thieved; / You took the gay child of my passion / And gave me your clod-conceived … // You flung a ditch on the vision / Of beauty, love and truth. / O stony grey soil of Monaghan / You burgled my bank of youth!’ (Selected Poems, p.13.)

Lough Derg [1971] (Newbridge, Kildare: Goldsmith Press 1978; London: MacGibbon & Kee 1979) - some extracts: ‘From Cavan and from Leitrim and from Mayo, / From all the thin-faced parishes where hills / Are perished noses running peaty water, / They come to Lough Derg to fast and pray and beg / With all the bitterness of non-entities, and the envy / Of the articulate when dealing with the artist. [9] Women and men in bare feet turn again / To the iron crosses and the rutted Beds, / Their feet are swollen and their bellies empty - / But something that is Ireland’s secret leads / These petty mean people / For here’s the day of a poor soul greed / To a marvellous beauty above its head. [12] He was satisfied now his art / Was free from the coquetry of art [29] For Aggie told him all / That hour as they sat on the wall / Of Brendan’s cell: / Birth, bastardy and murder ... [29] All Ireland that froze for want of Europe [31]“And who are you?” said the poet speaking to / The old Leitrim man. / He said, ‘I can tell you / What I am. / Servants girls bred my servility; / When I stoop / It is my mother’s mother’s mother / Each one in turn being called in to spread - / “Wider with your legs” the master of the house said. / Domestic servants, no one has told / Their generations as it is, as I / Show the cowardice of the man whose mothers were whored / By five generations of capitalist and lord. [31] Their stations for the day / Completed - all things arranged / Nothing in doubt, nothing gone astray... All happened on Lough Derg as it was written / In June nineteen forty-two / When the Germans were fighting outside Rostov. / The poet wrote it down as best he knew ... [41] ... the pilgrims went / And three sad people had found the key to the lock / Of God’s delight in disillusionment. [End.] Note, review of Denis Devlin’s “Lough Derg”: ‘It is a remarkable fact that Lough Derg does not lend itself to the literary spirit. There has yet to be written a great poem or book on this pilgrimage.’ (Review for The Standard, 3 Aug. 1946.)

Memory of Brother Michael”: ‘It would never be morning, always evening, / Golden sunset, golden age / When Shakespeare, Marlowe and Jonson were writing / The future of England page by page / A nettle-wild grave was Ireland’s stage. // It would never be spring, always autumn / After a harvest always lost, / When Drake was winning seas for England / We sailed in puddles of the past / Chasing the ghost of Brendan’s mast. // The seeds among the dust were less than dust, / Dust we sought, decay, / The young sprout rising smothered in it, / Cursed for being in the way / And the same is true to-day. // Culture is always something that was, / Something pedants can measure, / Skull of bard, thigh of chief, / Depth of dried-up river. / Shall we be thus for ever? / Shall we be thus for ever?’ (Collected Poems, MacGibbon & Kee, 1964, 1968, p.84.)

A Wreath for Tom Moore’s Statue”: ‘The cowardice of Ireland is in his statue, / No poet’s honoured when they wreathe [sic] this stone, / An old shopkeeper who has dealt in the marrow-bone / Of his neighbours looks at you. / Dim-eyed, degenerate, he is admiring his god, / The bank-manager who pays his monthly confession, / The tedious narrative of a mediocrity’s passion, / The shallow, safe sins that never become a flood / To sweep themselves away. From under / His coat-lapels the vermin creep as Joyce / Noted in passing on his exile’s way. / […] (Collected Poems, 1964, 1968, p.85.) Further: ‘The dead will wear a cap for any racket / The corpse will not put his elbows through his jacket / Or contradict the words some liar said / the corpse can be fitted out to deceive […] Guaranteed to work and never come alive […]’; quoted [in part] by Margaret Kelleher reviewing of Briege Duffaud, A Wreath Upon the Dead, in Irish Literary Supplement, Spring, 1994, p.23.)

Prelude”: ‘And you must go inland and be / Lost in compassion’s ecstasy, / Where suffering soars in a summer air / The millstone has become a star’. (Coll. Poems, 1968, p.131). ‘Bring to the particular trees. That caught you in their mysteries, / And love again the weeds that grew / Somewhere specially for you. / Collect the river and the stream / That flashed upon a pensive theme, / And a positive world make, / A world man’s world cannot shake.’ (Ibid., p.132; quoted in Sophia Hillen King, ‘The Millstone and the Star: Regionalism as Strength’, in Linenhall Review, Autumn 1994, pp.7-10.)

A Christmas Childhood” - I [First stanza]: ‘Our side of the potato-pits was white with frost - / How wonderful that was, how wonderful! / And when we put our ears to the paling-post / The music that came out was magical.’ (Collected Poems, 1964; 1968, pp.71-72; p.71.) II [Last stanza]: ‘My father played the melodeon, / My mother milked the cows, / And I had a prayer like a flower, to pin / On the Virgin Mary’s blouse.’ ([end]; p.72.) Note: “A Christmas Childhood”, pub. in The Bell , 1, 3 (Dec. 1940), concerns impressions of the poet’s mother and father when he was six years old; given on p.71 of that iss. [sic]; heading, “Poem” by Patrick Kavanagh; information supplied by Kelly Matthews, UUC PhD, 2008. [See Collected Poems, ed. Antoinette Quinn, Allen Lane 2004]

Christmas 1939”: ‘O Divine Baby in the cradle, / All that is poet in me / Is the dream I dreamed / of Your Childhood / And the dream You / dreamed of me. // O Divine Baby in the cradle, / All that is truth in me / Is my mind tuned to the cadence / Of a child’s philosophy. / O Divine Baby in the cradle, // All that is pride in me / Is my mind bowed in homage / Upon Your Mother’s knee. // O Divine Baby in the cradle, / All that is joy in me / Is that I have saved from the ruin / Of my soul Your Infancy.’ (Rep. in The Irish Times, 24 Dec. 2005.)

Peace”: ‘And sometimes I am sorry when the grass / Is growing over the stones in quiet hollows / And the cocksfoot leans across the rutted cart-pass / That I am not the voice of country fellows / Who now are standing by some headland talking / Of turnips and potatoes or young corn / Or turf banks stripped for victory. / Here Peace is still hawking / His coloured combs and scarves and beads of horn. // Upon a headland by a whiny hedge / A hare sits looking down a leaf-lapped furrow, / There’s an old plough upside-down on a weedy ridge / And someone is shouldering home a saddle-harrow. / Out of that childhood country what fools climb / To fight with tyrants Love and Life and Time?’ (Collected Poems, London: MacGibbon & Kee 1964, 1968, p.31.)

They laughed at one I loved - / The triangular hill that hung / Under the Big Forth. They said / That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges / Of the little farm and did not know the world. / But I knew that love’s doorway to life / Is the same doorway everywhere. // Ashamed of what I loved I flung her from me and called her a ditch / Although she was smiling at me with violets. / But now I am back in her briary arms / The dew of an Indian Summer morning lies On bleached potato-stalks - / What age am I? // I do not know what age I am, / I am no mortal age; / I know nothing of women, / Nothing of cities, / I cannot die / Unless I walk outside these whitethorn hedges.’ (Collected Poems, ed. Antoinette Quinn, pp.241-42.)

[“Hell of unfaith”:] ‘Can a man grow from the dead clod of failure / Some consoling flower / Something humble as a dandelion or a daisy / Something to wear as a buttonhole in Heaven. / Under the flat, flat grief of defeat maybe / Hope is a seed / Maybe this is what he was born for, this hour / Of hopelessness / Maybe it is here he must search / In this hell of unfaith / Where no one has a purpose / Where the web of Meaning is broken threads / And one man looks at another in fear. / O God can a man find / You when he lies with his face downwards / And his nose in the rubble that was his achievement / Is the music playing behind the doors of despair / O God give us a purpose. […] (For the remainder of this poem - a non-lineated section - the poet sees himself as ‘waking to the horrible reality of failure’ - ‘masturbating mentally and physically’ - and then ‘masturbating with it’ [presumably metaphorically] on the premiss that though he has failed, his failure is ‘an experience’; so ‘therefore it isn’t failure[…].’ At this point the poem trails off uncompleted. (Untitled; held in UCD B4 Index, No. 13; papers of Patrick Kavanagh; accessed at Patrick Kavanagh page online; 12.05.2008.)

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On Raglan Road” [orig. asDark Haired Miriam Ran Away”, 1946]
On Raglan Road of an autumn day
I saw her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare
That I might one day rue
I saw the danger and I passed
Along the enchanted way
And I said let grief be a fallen leaf
At the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November
We tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a deep ravine where can be seen
The worth of passion's pledge
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts
And I not making hay
Oh I loved too much and by such by such
Is happiness thrown away.
I gave her gifts of the mind
I gave her the secret signs
Known to the artists who have known
The true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint I did not stint
I gave her poems to say
With her own name there
And her own dark hair
Like clouds over fields of May.

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet
I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had loved not as I should
A creature made of clay
When the angel woos the clay
He'll lose his wings at the dawn of day.
— Hear audio-version read by Tom O’Bedlam online.

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The Green Fool (1938) [the hero makes an expedition with other to rob a train and, failing that, to rob a ‘big house’]: ‘When the train failed to stop there was nothing for it but to fall back on Conway’s. Conway’s house was robbed on average twice a month. It was one of the Big Houses. I was never in a robbery but one, though at that time it was the normal business of the country. […] Later in the season, I was out again, this time on more official duty. Two houses of the most most prominent Free Staters were to be blown up as a reprisal for the shooting of the three men who had commandeered the old Ford car. […]. I ran across the ploughed fields and through briars and over ditches. I ran home without looking back. First thing next morning I went to see the ruins of the blown-up houses; they were intact, a humane man, a real I.R.A. man, had called off the attack.’ (‘Serving my Time’ [chap.], p.135).

Tarry Flynn (1948), ‘Was there not a second Tarry of whom nobody in Drumnay was aware, not even his mother, who looked on at the mortal Tarry, watching, laughing, criticising and recording? He saw himself sitting there in the corner with his elbows on the table while his mother and sisters talked. Though he was silent his was the only opinion that would matter in the long run.’ (Penguin 1978, p.139; quoted in Neil Corcoran, After Yeats and Joyce, Opus [OUP] 1997, p.61.)

By Night Unstarred (1977): ‘Watching this artistic family with all the accoutrements of fashionable society upon them Patrick did not wonder that the glare and blare was designed to shut out their squalid past. The slime-stuck peasant unconsious of cities, of cultures, of everything but the power of money, had come to town. Money was everything - almost.’ ([Goldsmith Press], pp.171-72; quoted in Terence Brown, ‘After the Revival: The Problem of Adequacy and Genre’, Ronald Schleifer, ed., The Genres of Irish Literary Revival, Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1980, pp.153-78, p.174, and there characterised as the novel of a modern Irish dynasty founded by small-farmer Peter Devine, b.1867, and carried on by his descendants in the 1940s.

Kavanagh’s Weekly, Vol. I, No. 1 (26 April 1952): ‘All the mouthpieces of public opinion are controlled by men whose only qualification is their inability to think. / Being stupid and illiterate is the mark of respectability and responsibility ... . / The country is dead or dying of its false materialism.’ Further: [The mission of the poet is] ‘to exite the moment with hope.’ (p.7; all quoted in Terence Brown, ‘After the Revival: The Problem of Adequacy and Genre’, The Genres of Irish Literary Revival, ed. Ronald Schleifer (Oklahoma: Pilgrim; Dublin: Wolfhound 1980), pp.153-78; p.175.)

Kavanagh’s Weekly, Vol. I, No. 3 (26 April 1952) - “Diary”: ‘The death which has overtaken Irish life in other fields has descended on the field of literature … There is no use in concealing the fact that there is practically no literary public in this country and there has never been a literary tradition. … If a writer appeals to the few who count he may get all sorts of commissions. But it can be taken as a fact that no sincere writer can make a living by his creative writing.’ (p.7; quoted in Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature, Pluto 1998, 1998, p.104.) ‘Our hope is to create in a few thousand people the power to think critically before it is too late. In life there needs to be a constant battle to recover losses. Even to hold your place you have to fight. Hence what looks like destructiveness is merely the critical mind […].’ (Kavanagh’s Weekly, p.7; quoted in Gerry Smyth, op. cit. p.107.)

Further (Diary, Kavanagh’s Weekly, 1, 3, April 1952): “What is truth?”: ‘As a military force we would [263] stand no chance and we should not be flaunting our red flag in the face of the bull of the world […] we should have an army of about 500 for the purposes of giving us the thrill of the parade.’ (Ibid. [same issue], quoted in Eunan O’Halpin, Defending Ireland: The Irish State and its Enemies Since 1922, Oxford: Clarendon 1999, pp.263-64.)

Kavanagh’s Weekly [No. 7] (24 May 1952): ‘The exciting quality about Joyce is that when you read him you are not told of the large public issues that were agitating the minds of politicians and journalists in those days. Joyce takes the unimportant lives of people and shows that in the end these private lives are the only lives that matter’; ‘the only thing that matters is people - thinking, dreaming, hoping, loving’. (p.2.) [See also the poems “Joyce’s Ulysses” and “Who Killed James Joyce?”]

Kavanagh’s Weekly, No. 9 (7 June 1952): ‘Paris in Aran’: ‘[…] There is one other item which will for some time to come keep the Irish act a living performance: as long as we remain provincial with London our metropolis there will always be a market for bogus Irishness. For the metropolis has never anything but contempt for its subservient provinces. The metropolis is not interested in the imaginative reality of provincial society: it only asks the provincial to perform. You get this metropolitan attitude in the London novel-reviewers who never fail to go into ecstasy over the fraudulent Irish novel. The authentic [191] thing they look upon as indecent courage on the part of a man whose job it is to entertain them. It is no accident the when Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist came out in 1916 it was practically ignored by the London reviewers, as I discovered when I looked up the reviews of that time. Donagh McDonagh, Walter Macken and of course W. R. Rodgers have brought this bogus Irishness to the London market and the result has been, and still is, that the genuine article born out of individual pride is passed by. / On the other hand, if it weren’t for the artificial commodity there would be too little writing here and no such thing as Irish literature. […]’ (Antoinette Quinn, ed., Selected Prose of Patrick Kavanagh, Lilliput 2003, p.190.)

Kavanagh’s Weekly, No. 10 ([15] June 1952): ‘The job is to find some substitute for the national loyalty, some system to take the place of the enslaving State’ (p.1; quoted in Smyth, op. cit., p.107.) ‘The Irish tradition regarding a poet was not a good one; it constantly and persistently encouraged the poet into undignified ways. The real trouble is that perhaps there was no civilised tradition […]. The Gaelic poets hardly deserve the name of poets for they lacked the one quality of a poet - leadership. A poet draws the people’s attention to the obvious that they otherwise do not see: he gives them courage, the courage to be themselves - the only kind of courage that is worth having.’ (p.5; Smyth, op. cit., 1997, p.105.)

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Self-Portrait (1964) [1]: ‘What seems of public importance is never of any importance. Stupid poets and artists think that by taking subjects of public importance it will help their works to survive. There is nothing as dead and damned as an important thing. The things that really matter are casual, insiginficant little things, things you would be ashamed to talk of publicly. You are ashamed and them after years someone blabs and you find that you are in the secret majority. Such is fame.’ (Self Portrait, p.20-21; quoted in Brendan Kennelly, ‘Patrick Kavanagh’, in Ariel, July 1970, p.10, and rep. in Lucy, op. cit., 1973, p.163; also in Terence Brown, ‘After the Revival [... &c.]’ in Ronald Schleifer, ed., The Genres of Irish Literary Revival, Oklahoma: Pilgrim; Dublin: Wolfhound 1980, pp.153-78, p.176. (See also ‘From Monaghan to the Grand Canal’, in Collected Pruse, 1967, p.230.)

Self-Portrait (1964) [2]: ‘There is nothing as dead and damned as an important thing’ (‘Self Portrait’; rep. in Collected Pruse, 1967, p.19.) ‘Not caring is really a sense of values and feeling of confidence. […] There are two kinds of simplicity, the simplicity of going away and the simplicity of return. the last is the ultimate in sophistication. In the final simplicity we don’t care whether we appear foolish or not. We talk of things tht earlier wold embarrass. We are satisfied with being ourselves, however small.’ (Autobiography; rep. in Collected Pruse, 1967, ibid., pp.20-21; quoted in part cited in Fionnula Griffith, MADiss., UUC 1997.)

Self-Portrait (1964) [3]: ‘There are two kinds of simplicity, the simplicity of going away and the simplicity of return. The last is the ultimate in sophistication. In the final simplicity we don’t care whether we appear foolish or not. We talk of things that earlier would embarrass. We are satisfied with being ourselves, however small. So it was that on the banks of the Grand Canal between Baggot and Leeson Street bridges in the warm summer Of 1955, I lay and watched the green waters of the canal. I had just come out of hospital. I wrote: “Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal / Pouring redemption for me, that I do / The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal / Grow with nature again as before I grew.” And so in this moment of great daring I became a poet.’ (Self-Portrait, Dolmen Press 1964, p.25; A Poet’s Country: Selected Prose, ed. Antoinette Quinn, Lilliput Press 2003, pp.313-14.)

Self-Portrait (1964) [4]: ‘[…] I would say that, as a poet, I was born in or about nineteen-fifty-five, the place of my birth being the banks of the Grand Canal. Thirty years earlier Shancoduff’s watery hills could have done the trick, but I was too thick to take the hint. Curious this, how I had started out with the right simplicity, indifferent to crude reason and then ploughed my way through complexities and anger, hatred and ill-will towards the faults of man, and came back to where I started.’ (Rep. in Collected Pruse, 1967 p.21).

Self-Portrait (1964) [5]: ‘My hegira was to the Grand Canal where again I saw the beauty of water and green grass and the magic of light. It was the same emotion as I had known when I stood on a sharp slope in Monaghan, where I imaginatively stand now, looking across to Slieve Gullion and South Armagh.’ (Ibid., p.23)

Self-Portrait (1964) [6]: ‘Amid the most picturesque mountain scenery I might only see the remains of a pit of wizened marigolds and in the Botanic Gardens my heart would delight in a fringe of nettles by a wall.’ (Self-Portrait; quoted in Alan Warner, Clay is the Word, Gill & Macmillan 1973, p.72.)

Self-Portrait (1964) [7]: ‘In all formal patriotic activity there lies the seed of something that is not virtue. It took me many years to work myself free from that formula for literature which laid all the stress on whether it was Irish or not. For twenty years I wrote according to the dispensation of this Irish school. The appraisers of the school all agreed that I had my roots in the soil, was one of the people and that I was an authentic voice. What the alleged poetry lover loved was the Irishness of a thing. Irishness is a form of anti-art. A way of posing as a poet without actually being one.’ (Self Portrait, in Collected Pruse, p.14; quoted in Daniel Murphy, Imagination and Religion in Anglo-Irish Literature 1930-1980, Dublin: IAP 1987, p.26.)

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Author’s Note [i.e., Preface], Collected Poems (1964): ‘I am always shy of calling myself a poet […] There is, of course, a poetic movement which sees poetry materialistically. The writers of this school see no transcendent nature in the poet; they are practical chaps, excellent technicians. But somehow or other I have a belief in poetry as a mystical thing, and a dangerous thing. / A man (I am thinking of myself) innocently dabbles in words and rhymes and finds that it is his life. Versing activity leads him away from the paths of conventional unhappiness. For reasons that I have never been able to explain, the making of verses has changed the course of one man’s destiny. […]’ (See full text, with other front pages of Collected Poems, 1964, 1968, infra.) Note: Kavanagh earlier expressed the view that poets should be ‘dangerous’ and ‘a menace to society’ in Kavanagh’s Weekly; see Antoinette Quinn, Introduction, Poet’s Country: Selected Prose, 2003, p.14.)

'The Playboys of the Western World’, in The Standard (18 Sept. 1942), pp.3-4: ‘Nobody, as far as I know, has ever written about the Irish “playboy” from the inside. Synge, who gave the idea a pseudo-classic permanence, was so fundamentally superficial that as a social document his play is worthless. We only see face values and if a man’s face wears a smile we take it that he is happy. / The Irish talent for “acting the cod” is very widespread. The talent is, the child of poverty and oppression. It was of course the English conquerors that were responsible for the “playboy”. They would not take us seriously and as a result we got a name for a certain kind of harumscarum humour that I am glad to say we never really deserved. On the other hand, the flamboyant imagination that is born of faith in the next world rather than in this, has kept in us an optimism that is not a commercial asset. [ ...; p.186] I do not want to over-emphasize the cynical side of the “playboy”, but I cannot too strongly declare that practically all the acting of men of this description is done with a purpose. The laugh and the folly is the poor man’s cloak of invisibility from his enemies and competitors. / I think that no sin is more to be condemned that that of putting the fool farther. It does keep them happy, but it is far better to grieve in truth than rejoice in the untrue. I myself cannot help when I meet a inan - or even more so a woman - trying to awaken him to a realization of things as they are. / “People think that I’m a gay fellow,” said a man of the foolish kind to me one day after I had given him a sense of discomforting reality. “I’m the funny fellow. I’m the funny fellow and I never had a days pleasure in my life. Sometimes my heart does be breaking and still the people laugh.” . / “Yes,” I said, “but the fault is largely your own. Why can’t you act serious and say the dull stupid things like everybody else?” / “You see the thing got in on me, it’s a habit. Do you think that I never wanted to settle down and have a house of my own?” [.] My point is that there’s no such thing as an authentic “playboy”. [.] The “playboy” is dying out rapidly, and no lover of Ireland will be sorry. For his second name is Poverty.’ [End.] (Rep. in A Poet’s Country: Selected Prose of Patrick Kavanagh, ed. Antoinette Quinn, Dublin: Lilliput Press 2003, pp.186-88; pp.186-87.)

The Gallivanting Poet’ [on F. R. Higgins, q.v.], in Irish Writing, 3 (Nov. 1947), pp.62-70: ‘You get the same thing among Irish Protestant writers in general. It is not without point that the fathers of “Irish wit and humour” (more inverted commas) have nearly all been Protestants. They were trying to bypass Rome on their way to the heart of Ireland. / You have Lover, Lever, Lynn Doyle, George A. Birmingham and many others, all true Protestants pretending to be “gay fellas”. Some of them, such as Lover, had genius and that makes all the difference. We hear the genius and we are not in “Ireland” then but in the fairyland of poety […] Their Protestantism has been a great tribulation to Irish writers of that persuasion. Alone of modern Irish writers Yeats got here mrely by being himself, by being a sincere poet. He dug beneath the variegated surface to where the Spirit of Poetry is one with Truth. I say this with reservations, but none the less it is largely true. O’Casey turned Communist, which is the real Protestantism of our time. / Another development of the Protestant writer’s dilemma is to be found in his attempt to build up the idea of Dublin as a spiritual entity - the Dublin of Swift, Berkeley, Gogarty, Joyce, and “Larry-the-night-before-he-was-stretched”. This was really gerrymandering the constituencies of the soul so as to segregate disagreeable elements and to provide one’s own narrow outlook with a safe seat. / Most of us at one time or another have allowed ourselves to pretend that we believed in the mystique of the Nation or the City State. It is not an adult attitude though it can be amusing. […] A man of genius can focus on a narrow facet of the soul and yet suggest the complete picture of Mankind. Fools only see that he focused on the narrow facet and they think that narrow facet the all-important. They say for instance: “Only a Dublinman can understand Joyce.” But in so far as Joyce is a writer of genius the Dublin part of his work is of very superficial importance. Yeats wrote of names like Swift, Berkeley, Parnell, but in so far as he is a true poet these names could as validly have been Chinese.’ (Rep. in A Poet’s Country Selected Prose, ed. Antoinette Quinn, Dublin: Lilliput Press 2003, p.193-201; pp.194-95.)

Poetry in Ireland To-day”, in The Bell 16, 1 (April 1948), pp.36-43: [Opening:] ‘Seán O’Faoláin suggested, and several other superficial critics supported him, that I was only interested in flat reality; that I had dung in my mouth, that I only understood the small farm. For everything outside that I had no understanding or love. / Nothing could be farther from the truth. What I seek and love when I find is the whiskey of the imagination, not the bread and butter of “reality.” This is the thing I seek in writing and this is the thing I most dreadfully miss in the verse that is being written in this country these days. The poems being written are like perfectly laid-out [37] corpses on a slab. They are perfectly shaped and perfectly dead. There is nothing you can say to the dead or about the dead. Life is everything. Life is what we love. The spark of life justifies the most indifferent body, makes it beautiful.’ (pp.36-37.) [Cont.]

Poetry in Ireland To-day” (1948) - cont.: ‘The republic of Irish letters which under Yeats had achieved some sort of unity - a clearly defined polarity of bad and good - has now split up into roughly three sections. / There is the section which has its headquarters in London - O’Casey, McNeice [sic for MacNeice], Day Lewis, Rodgers, Stephens, &c. - which has discarded the idea of nationalism as a basis. On the home front we have O’Connor, O’Faolain, the editor of The Bell and its writers trying to cater for the few adult readers; the third section is mainly under the protective brown robe of Father Senan, O.F.M.Cap., whose Capuchin Annual and it subsidiary The Irish Bookman cater for beginners, nationalistic sentimentalists, the popular-successful, and particularly for writers from the North. Dog doesn't eat dog, yet one must remark that the quality of the writing in these two magazines is extremely poor. If one wants to look at death here is the place to find it, though I may add that the Irish Times book-page poem with the best of intentions scarcely rises above the quality of what appears in the two-mentioned magazines.’ Further criticises The Bell’s poetry anthology [i.e., “The Belfry”] (p.40) and the poetry of John Hewitt (p.42 - though qualifying his criticism in a later footnote).

Poetry in Ireland To-day” (1948) - cont.: ‘Having written all this another question arises in my mind - the question as to whether it will be necessary to our native identity to carry on an artificial “Celtic Mode” or “Note” - now that the Gaelic language is dead. To carry on such an artificial language would be to be false if it did not arise naturally from life. It is not, as I have said before, language that denotes a man’s spiritual identity. Charles Lever with his Micky Frees and his “begorras” is much less an Irishman than T.C. Murray, whose Maurice Harte speaks cultured English. And I know numbers of people who have learned Gaelic and who are enthusiastic for that language who are strangers to everything we call the Spirit of Ireland.’ (p. 42; end; the foregoing supplied by Kelly Matthews, UUC, PhD 2008.) [For full text, see RICORSO Library, “Authors - Irish Classics”, infra.]

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Nationalism & Literature” [1]: ‘Nationalism is seldom based on those sincerities which give any truly spiritual force its power. Good work cannot survive in an angry atmosphere … English literature … seems to me largey divorced from England the nation, the often scoundrelly nation .. the protective atmosphere which fed the English poetic world had little to do with politics or patriotism. Love of the land and landscape is of course different kettle of potatoes altogether. Constable, Wordsworth, Clare […] were great patriots in that sense.’ (Collected Pruse, 1967, pp.268-69.) Further: ‘There have been many fine patriots but there must be some inherent defect in the whole business, seeing that men of little or no principle can readily weight in with it and be accounted fine men.’ (Ibid., p.269; both the above quoted in Edna Longley, The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland, 1994, p.61, p.208.)

Nationalism & Literature” [2]: ‘Regarding myth-making and myths in general, I note that a well-known French scholar priest is coming here to demolish the Anglo-Saxon myth. According to this man’s theory the whole legend of an Anglo-Saxon culture is nothing but legerdemain. The legend is there just the same. It cannot be demolished, any more than that singular Gaelic figure St Patrick, as portrayed on [200] banners and cards, can be demolished. A myth is necessary, for a myth is a sort of self-contained world in which one can live. As literary critics live in theirs, discussing family intimacies. / Ireland as a myth which could protect and nourish a body of creative artists is rather unique. One of the reasons why it has failed again and again is that nationalism is seldom based on those sincerities which give any truly spiritual force its power. Good work cannot survive in an angry atmosphere, and without being too boringly insistent on the value of truth, I can only say that it is the most entertaining type of communication.’ (Collected Prose, 1967; for longer extracts, see RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”, infra.)

The Irish Tradition” [orig. ‘A Goat Tethered Outside the Bailey’] (Collected Pruse, 1967; rep. in Mark Storey, ed., Poetry and Ireland since 1800: A Source Book, London: Routledge 1988, pp.197-200.): [1]: ‘For a man in Ireland to have the label ‘poet’ attached to him is little short of a calamity. Society, when it has established a man as a poet, has him cornered within narrow limits. If he looks like having too much scope in his little corner he will be still further narrowed by having an adjective in front of ‘poet’ - such as Country poet, Catholic poet and so on. He becomes a sort of exhibit, not a man in and of the world. […] In so far as the poet is thought of in Ireland, the idea is that he is either an uproarious, drunken clown, an inspired idiot, a silly school-girl type, or just plain dull. He is in no way to be taken seriously.’ (Storey, op. cit., p.197.) ‘Roughly, two classes of people abhor the imaginative sense of values. There is the sound businessman whose solid worth finds expression in the trivialities of the newspaper, and there is the literary mediocrity who must deny the existence of Parnassus if his little dust-heap of biographies and novels are to mean anything.’ (Ibid., p.199; for longer extracts, see in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”, infra.)

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The Parish and the Universe” - 1 [orig. ‘Mao Tse-tung Unrolls His Mat’, in Kavanagh’s Weekly, 7 (24 May 1952] [1]: ‘[…] Parochialism and provincialism are direct opposites. The provincial has no mind of his own; he does not trust what his eyes see until he has head what the metropolics - towards which his eyes are turned - has to say on the subject. This runs through all his activities. / The Parochial mentality on the other hand never is in any doubt about the social and artistic validity of his parish. All great civilisations are based on parochialism - Greek, Israelite, English - Greek, Israelite, English. Parochialism is universal; it deals with the fundamentals […]. In Ireland were are inclined to be provincial, not parochial, for it requires a great deal of courage to be parochial. When we do attempt to have the courage of our parish we are inclined to go false and play up to the larger parish on the other side of the Irish sea. In recent times we have had two great Irish parishioners - James Joyce and George Moore. They explained nothing. The public had either to come to them or stay in the dark and the public did come. The English parishioner recognizes courage in another man’s parish. / Whenever you have had parochial courage here it was always an aggressive courage, not the taking-for-granted kind. / […] Advising people not to be ashamed of having the courage of their remote parish is not free from many dangers. Ther is always that element of bravado which takes pleasure in the notion that the potato-patch is ultimeate. To be parochial a man needs the right kind of sensitive courage and the right kind of sensitive humility […]’ (p.2; rep. as “The Parish and the Universe” in Collected Pruse, 1967, cp.292; rep. as “Parochialism and Provincialism” in Antoinette Quinn, ed., The Poet’s Country: Selected Prose, Dublin: Lilliput Press 2003, p.237; also quoted [in part and up to ‘… all activities’] in Michael Longley, ‘Introduction’, Causeway: The Arts in Ulster, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan / NI Arts Council 1971, p.[7]-8 [no ref.], and [more briefly], in Edna Longley, The Living Stream, 1994, p.209; also more extensively in Gerry Smyth, Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature, Pluto Press 1998, p.108). [For further on provincial and metropolitan, see ‘Paris in Aran’, in Kavanagh’s Weekly, 7 June 1952, supra.] (See full version in RICORSO Library, Critical Classics, infra.)

Parochialism and Provincialism” - 2: (1952) [2]: ‘Parochialism is universal: it deals with the fundamentals. It is not by the so called national dailies that people who emigrate keep in touch with their roots. In London, outside the Catholic churches, the big run is on the local Irish papers. Lonely on Highgate Hill, outside St. Joseph’s Church, I rushed to buy my Dundalk Democrat, and reading it I was back in my native fields. Now as I analyse myself I realise that throughout everything I write, there is this constantly recurring motif of the need to go back … So it is for these reasons that I return to the local newspapers. Who has died? Who has sold his farm?’ (Quoted in Seamus Heaney, ‘The Sense of Place’ [1977; Preoccupations, 1980, p.139 [no ref].) [For longer extracts, see RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”, infra. see further remarks on “parochialism”, infra.]

Parochialism: ‘A provincial is always trying to live by other people’s loves, but a parochial is self-sufficient. A great deal of this parochialism with all its intended intensities and courage continued in rural Ireland up till a few years ago and possibly will continue in some form for ever. […] My idea of a cultural parochial entity was the distance a man would walk in a day in any direction. The centre was usually a place where oneself lived though not always. […] For me, my cultural parish was certain hills that I could see from my own hills. The ordinary bicycle did not change these dimensions, for though one seldom explored the full extent of one’s parish on foot, one could and did so on the bicycle. And those bicycle journeys that I made to the limits of my kingdom were the greatest adventures of my life. (Kavanagh’s Weekly, No. 9; quoted in Alan Warner, Clay is the Word, Gill & Macmillan 1973, p.81; Terence Brown, Northern Voices, 1975, p.218 [bibl. cites November Haggard, 69-70], and J. W. Foster, Colonial Consequences, Lilliput Press 1991, p.101.)

James Joyce” [1] (Envoy [Special Joyce Issue] April 1951), “Diary” [column]: ‘I find it difficult to form any particular opinion about Joyce. I have one advantage over certain others: I was never an original admirer of Joyce and so I have not had the normal reaction, that readjusting of one’s values which is common in regard to one’s enthusiasms. […] I read Ulysses for the first time about seven years ago. Since then, it has been my second favourite bedside book. / What I think is a mistake is reading deep symbolism into Ulysses, drawing comparisons. Ulysses is a very funny book, and it is also a very wearying book. It is almost entirely a transcription of life. Joyce added nothing - except possibly Stephen, and he gave us Stephen completely in the Portrait. / There is something wrong with Joyce who, as Chesterton said about someone else, is sane enough; it is his commentators who are mad. / Almost the most outstanding quality in Joyce is his Catholicism or rather his anti-Protestantism. Joyce, through Stephen, in the Portrait, must have done more damage to Protestantism than any modern apologist. / His reason made him a bad Catholic, but whatever the defects of Catholicism, he saw that Protestantism was a compendium of all those defects. / There was nothing in Joyce’s life of self-sacrifice - except the fact the he went off with a penniless girl. Perhaps it was the artist in him which gave him this kink in his character. / Yet I am constantly reminded of the number of writers who achieved the depths of hell’s despair simpy because they happened to get a woman without spondulecs. [... 70] If Joyce had had a thousand a year would he have written Ulysses as he did? [...; &c.]’ (pp.70-71; rep. in John Ryan, ed., A Bash in the Tunnel, Brighton: Clifton Books 1970, pp.49-52.) Note: Kavanagh appends to the Envoy version of this article his poem “The fabled daughters of memory are all pastiche […],” &c.. In A Bash in the Tunnel this is replaced with “Who Killed James Joyce” [supra] - in which American PhD students and W. R. Rodgers are held culpable, having previously appeared on p.12 of the Envoy “James Joyce” issue (April 1951), prefixed to all other contributions to the issue. (See also remarks on James Joyce in Kavanagh’s Weekly, supra.) [See further in James Joyce, Commentary, supra.]

Irish Literary Revival [1]: ‘When I came to Dublin the Irish Literary affair was booming. it was the notion that Dublin was a literary metropolis and that Ireland, as invented and patented by Yeats, Lady Gregory and Synge, a spiritual entity.’ (Collected Pruse, 1967, p.13-14.) ‘I would say now that the so-called Irish Literary Movement which purported to be so frightfully Irish and racy of the Celtic soil was a thorough-going English-bred lie.’ (Ibid ., p.16.) ‘The Irish audience that I came into contact with tried to draw out of me everything that was loud, journalistic and untrue. Such as: “My soul was an old horse / Offered for sale in twenty fairs.” Anthologists everywhere keep asking for this. […] What the alleged poetry-lover loved was the Irishness of the thing. Irishness is a [16] form of anti-art. A way of posing as a poet without actually being one.’ (w.p.; here p.16; the foregoing quoted in Seamus Heaney, ‘A Tale of Two Islands: Reflections on The Irish Literary Revival’, in P. J. Drury, ed., Irish Studies, I, Cambridge UP 1980, pp.1-20, pp.15-16.)

The Literary Revival [2] presented an essentially sentimental Ireland ... The Yeats-Synge phony Ireland was eminently suited for export to America as it falsified the picture of this country’. (‘Lapped Furrows’; see Elmer Andrews, ed., Contemporary Irish Poetry London: Macmillan 1990, [Intro.,] p.11.) For further remarks on J. M. Synge, see ‘Paris in Aran’, Kavanagh’s Weekly [Vol. 1, No. 9], 7 June 1952, p.7 - quoted under Synge, infra.

The Literary Revival [3]: ‘I do not believe there is any such thing as “Irish” in literature.’ (Pref. to Autobiography of William Carleton, MacGibbon & Kee 1968, p.9; quoted in Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, Vol. 1 (1980). Also: ‘Irishness is a form of anti-art’ (Quoted in Antoinette Quinn, ed. Selected Poems, 1996, p.xxii; cited by Joanne Irving, UUC 1999).

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On The Great Hunger (1942): ‘[…] There is something wrong with a work of art, some kinetic vulgarity in it, when it is visible to policemen. […] The Great Hunger is concerned with the woes of the poor. A true poet is selfish and implacable. A poet merely states the position and does not care whether his words change anything or not. The Great Hunger is tragedy and Tragedy is underdeveloped Comedy, not fully born. Had I stuch to the tragic think in the Great Hunger I would have found many powerful friends. […] But I lost my Messianic compulsion. I sat on the bank of the Grand Canal in the summer of 1955 and let the water lap idly on the shores of my mind. My purpose in life was to have no purpose.’ (Preface, Collected Poems, 1968, xiv.) Further: ‘There are some queer and terrible things in “The Great Hunger”, but it lacks the nobility and repose of poetry’ (‘Autobiography’; Collected Pruse, 1967, p.21; Kennelly, op. cit,, p.25). Also: ‘In “The Great Hunger”, d’you see, you get this great concern for the woes of the poor - the social land; it is far to strong for honesty.’ (Kavanagh on BBC, 3rd Programme, 13 May 1960).

Comic muse: ‘There is only one muse, the Comic Muse. In Tragedy there is always something of a lie. Great poetry is always comic in the profound sense. Comedy is abundance of life. All true poets are gay, fantastically humorous.’ (‘Signposts’, Collected Pruse, [1967], p.25; quoted in Brendan Kennelly, ‘Patrick Kavanagh’, in Ariel, July 1970; rep. in Seán Lucy, Irish Poets in English, Cork: Mercier Press 1973, p.159.)

Peasant defined: ‘A peasant is all that mass of mankind which lives below a certain level of consciousness. They live in the dark cave of the unconscious and they scream when they see the light.’ (Self-Portrait, Collected Pruse, 1967, p.19; cited in Edna Longley, ‘Poetic Forms and Social Malformations’, in The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1994, p.209.)

Irish Civil War, ‘A customer of ours who believed in the old, glorious ideal of Ireland refused to believe in that the Civil War was real. “It’s only a dodge,” he would say, “it’s only a dodge to fool England.” (Ibid., p.135).

Ulster poets: ‘As for the “Ulster” writers who comprise only the Six Counties writers, they seem to be insipid, colourless and with no particular regional flavour.’ (“Diary”, Envoy, 1, 2, Jan. 1950, p.85; quoted in James Liddy, ‘Irish Poets and the Protestant Muse’, in Eire-Ireland: A Journal of Irish Studies, Summer 1979, pp.118-[28], p.121.)

Dublin City: ‘I find it hard to use the word Dublin with any confidence. It makes me feel somewhat ashamed’ (By Night Unstarred); ‘I came to Dublin in nineteen thirty-nine. It was the worst mistake of my life.’ [q.source.]

Corkery or Auden? ‘[The writers of Ireland] are no longer Corkery and O’Connor and the others, but Auden and George Barker. Saying this is liable to make one the worst in the world, for a national literature, being based on a convention, not born of the unpredictable individual and his problems, is a vulnerable racket and is protected by fierce wild men.’ (“Waiting for Godot”, in Envoy; rep. in Collected Pruse, 1967, p.266; quoted in Edna Longley, ‘From Cathleen to Anorexia’, in The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe 1994, 173-95, p.178-79.)

Capuchin Annual (1942) [Kavanagh’s review]: ‘Whenever an Irish writer wrote a book that was not in slavish yes-man agreement with their illiterate ideas of Catholicism he was sure to be damned by some scribbler who had failed to make the grade among the pagans. Who as a rule are the mouthpieces of piety here? the washed-up, the female-emotional who would die of exhaustion on the cold high hedges of real creative thought. (Peter Kavanagh, Patrick Kavanagh: Man and Poet (1989, p.404; quoted on Phil Rogers’ website [online; accessed 12.05.2008]). Peter Kavanagh adds: ‘This was the beginning of Kavanagh’s downfall as a “safe” man.’ (See also remarks on Capuchin Annual, et al., in ‘Poetry in Ireland To-Day’, in The Bell, April 1948, supra.)

Landscape: ‘No man ever loved that landscape and even some of the people more than I. It was a barbaric society not appreciably different from an old-fashioned Dublin slum. Our manners were the same. But there was the landscape and the sense of continuity with a race that had come down the centuries.’ (Collected Pruse, p.264.)

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