"The title—A Chastened Communion: Modern Irish Poetry and Catholicism—implies that after a period of retreat and repentance, the Irish church will emerge vibrant and renewed to meet the challenges of the future. But although he cautions that ‘we might be inclined to add a note of regret to the general celebratory chorus heralding the passing of Irish Catholicism,’ Auge neither expects nor predicts any such revival. His study is all the more convincing for that honesty. The effect on those disposed to receive it will indeed be liberating."—New Hibernia Review
A Chastened Communion traces a new path through the well-traversed field of modern Irish poetry by revealing how critical engagement with Catholicism shapes the trajectory of the poetic careers of Austin Clarke, Patrick Kavanagh, John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan, and Paula Meehan. Underlying their divergent poetic styles and thematic concerns, Auge discerns a common pattern. He shows how a demythologizing critique of some elemental features of Irish Catholicism—the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist, the pilgrimages to holy wells and Lough Derg, the veneration of the Blessed Virgin, the imperative to self-sacrifice, the narrowly patriarchal nature of the institution—elicit, for each of these poets, a radical reshaping of these traditional religious phenomena. Auge provides compelling new readings of major Irish poets and establishes a basis for distinguishing modern Irish poetry from its Anglophone counterparts.
Andrew J. Auge is professor of English at Loras College in Iowa. His articles have been published in numerous journals, including New Hibernia Review and Contemporary Literature.
6 x 9, 304 pages