Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiv

Anthony Bradley’s “Pastoral in Modern Irish Poetry” and Sidney Burris’s The Poetry of Resistance: Seamus Heaney and the Pastoral Tradition (1990) inspired me to reconsider the relationship of Heaney and, eventually, other contemporary Irish poets to the pastoral tradition. Bradley divides Irish poets into two groups: those of the Irish literary revival who lacked direct...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-18

The source of pastoral poetry can be traced to the boukolika (“ox-herding poems”) of the mid-third-century BC poet Theocritus of Syracuse. For Theocritus, “bucolic” poetry involved the exchange of song, often in a song contest, between herders, whether of oxen, sheep, cows, or goats. Writing in response to increasing urbanization of life and the consequent longing for the ...

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Chapter 1: A Lost Pastoral Rhythm: The Poetry of John Montague

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pp. 19-44

Antoinette Quinn describes John Montague as “a pastoral poet manqué, an elegist pining for the stability of lost rural rituals,” observing that even the village pub in his first collection, The Rough Field (1972), is named “The Last Sheaf.” “‘The Last Straw,’” she quips, “might have been more apt,” because Montague’s poetry is redolent with nostalgia for a lost world.1 Although ...

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Chapter 2: “The God in the Tree” : Seamus Heaney and the Pastoral Tradition

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pp. 45-74

Seamus Heaney’s 1975 review of The Penguin Book of English Pastoral Verse observes that its selections come primarily from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and include only three poets who could be considered modern—Hardy, Hopkins, and Yeats—suggesting that the editors regard pastoral as a dying tradition. Heaney questions this assumption, contending that ...

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Chapter 3: “Love Poems, Elegies: I am losing my place ” : Michael Longley’s Environmental Elegies

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pp. 75-97

In an interview with Fran Brearton, then a student at the University of Durham, Michael Longley was asked to discuss the closing lines of his book The Ghost Orchid: “Love poems, elegies: I am losing my place. / Elegies come between you and my face.” Longley quips that while Fran is at the stage in her life for going to weddings, he has arrived at the stage for going to ...

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Chapter 4: Learning the Lingua Franca of a Lost Land: Eavan Boland’s Suburban Pastoral

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pp. 98-117

In her 1988 homage to Elizabeth Bishop, “An Un-Romantic American,” Eavan Boland describes her first encounter with Bishop’s work, a poem titled “The Moose” in an anthology of American poetry she had been sent for review: ...

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Chapter 5: “In My Handerkerchief of a Garden” : Medbh McGuckian’s Miniature Pastoral Retreats

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pp. 118-138

Medbh McGuckian’s book The Flower Master, more than any of her sub-sequent collections of poetry, relies on the conventions of pastoral poetry. Replete with natural imagery, mentioning flowers, plants, fruits, and seeds in every poem but one (“The ‘Singer’”), it establishes contrasts between nature and civilization, city and country, ultimately privileging the values associated ...

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Chapter 6: “When Ireland Was Still under a Spell” : Miraculous Transformations in the Poetry of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

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pp. 139-161

In Southern Review’s 1995 special issue on contemporary Irish poetry and criticism, a recurring theme is the woman poet’s continued efforts to focus attention on the place of women in Irish culture—an effort that has often entailed rejecting the traditional iconography employed by male poets in favor of incorporating women as symbol—Mother Ireland, Queen Medbh, ...

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Conclusion: The Future of Pastoral

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pp. 162-178

It seems evident by now that reports of pastoral’s death, like that of Mark Twain over a hundred years ago, have been greatly exaggerated. Although Barrell and Bull traced its death to the ostensible erasure, in the nineteenth century, of the distinction between country and city; critics from Raymond Williams to Roger Sales charged it with a dangerous escapism that served to ...

Notes

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pp. 179-192

Bibliography

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pp. 193-206

Index

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pp. 207-216