"A highly original narrative about remarkable contemporary Catholic poets-Patrick Kavanagh, but especially Seamus Heaney in his relation to the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, and to Paul Muldoon, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáain, and Medbh McGuckian. . . . O'Brien fills the role of companion, midwife, psychoanalyst, Sherpa, border patrol, guide, and even, goad. As a talented poet herself, she guides us skillfully in this border district which is analogical, purgatorial, transitional, and finally unmappable."—Dillion Johnston, author of Irish Poetry after Joyce
"A scrupulous, sustained, and beautifully written study of the troubled relationship between Irish writers and Catholicism which concludes with a superb study of the poet Seamus Heaney."—Kevin Whelan, director of the Keough-Naughton Centre of the University of Notre Dame in Dublin
"O'Brien's prose is brilliant. She possesses a marvelous facility for imaging explanations. . . . Her style is characteristically rich and economical, beautifully carrying her lucid and subtle arguments."—Audrey Eyler, Pacific Lutheran University
The overarching purpose of this volume is to show how a discrete tradition of writing about Lough Derg, a pilgrimage site in northwest Ireland, helped contemporary Irish poets rescue free, metaphysical inquiry from the grip of nationalism. Linked with the supernatural pagan times, Lough Derg had by the early twentieth century become an icon of the fusion of the Catholic Church and the Irish nation. Surveying treatments of Lough Derg from William Carleton through Denis Devlin, Patrick Kavanaugh, and ultimately Seamus Heaney, Peggy O’Brien addresses the role of spirituality in an increasingly cosmopolitan, postmodern, post-Catholic Ireland. Her extended treatment of Heaney culminates in an insightful juxtaposition with the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, who also struggled with the conflation of Catholicism and patriotism.
About the Author
Peggy O'Brien teaches in the English Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of the poetry collection, Sudden Thaw, and the editor of the Wake Forest Book of Irish Women's Poetry, 1969-2000. She regularly publishes essays on contemporary Irish poetry.
Series: Irish Studies
7 x 10, 342 pages