‘No Earthly Estate’, the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh, Padraic Colum and Eithne Strong.

The title of this small post and book recommendation is somewhat misleading, the post is not wholly about Patrick Kavanagh‘s poetry. I have been reading No Earthly Estate in conjunction with poetry by Padraic Colum and Eithne Strong during this week. Having today published a poem by Eithne Strong, and indeed there a few of the Poet’s Circuits (Padraic Colum) on Poethead, I decided to link these posts at the end of  this short  piece about earthly estates, land, and language .

Given the appalling situation that Irish Arts are in due to a combination of short-termism and  the inclusion of a blasphemy amendment into our legislation this year (2010) , I thought to add in the sometimes robust words of artists whose relation to words, landscape and the soil have accompanied me  this week in awful weather. I will draw attention to the new links and imprints on the Poethead front page, which are a celebration of the small independent presses, their poets and their  bloggers. These writers and presses have an honesty and expression that just about anchors one in the storm of drivel that forms the political approach to Irish Arts, that seems  wholly dedicated to the destruction of the root of arts in Ireland. Regular readers of the blog are aware of the problems, which include the Arts Act 2003 , the savage planning system, which is not balanced with legislation dedicated to conservation, the blasphemy amendment, and the insidious cuts to independent Writer’s Centres, who work very hard to nurture literature and avant-garde web usage.

The wordsmiths mentioned above , Kavanagh, Strong and Colum are but a tiny example of  the triumph of art and literature against what amounts to a repressive and regressive approach to the arts. They are not contemporary poets but provide for the new writer the amazing root-system which forms Irish Literature in all its wonderousness. Would only that those who claim to lead us politically were aware of their cultural heritage , story-telling, and indeed the violence of words that make up this rich history of  multifaceted voice and poetry !

The Devil

 by Patrick Kavanagh.

I met the devil too,
and the adjectives by which I would describe him are these:
Solemn,
Boring,
Conservative.
He was a man the world would appoint to a Board,
He would be on the list of invitees for a bishop’s garden-party,
He would look like an artist.
He was the fellow who wrote in newspapers about music,
Got into a rage when someone laughed;
He was serious about unserious things;
You had to be careful about his inferiority complex
For he was conscious of being uncreative.

from ,  No earthly Estate, God and Patrick Kavanagh . (Ed, Tom Stack . Columba Press , 2004).

Epic

by Patrick Kavanagh .

I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided : who owned
That half-rood of rock , a no-man’s land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffy’s shouting ‘Damn your soul’
And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
Step the plot defying blue cast-steel –
‘Here is the march along these iron 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.

Bibliography  for ‘No Earthly estate : Patrick Kavanagh , Padraic Colum and Eithne Strong


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