A Chastened Communion
Modern Irish Poetry and Catholicism
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Syracuse University Press
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Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication, About the Author
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That no one writes a book single-handedly may be a clich?, but in this case, it happens to be particularly true. Had Loras College not granted me the O?Connor Chair for Catholic Thought in 2007?2008 and a semester sabbatical in 2009, this book would not have been written. Nor would it have come to fruition without the encouragement and assistance of my colleagues at Loras and elsewhere. The sadly defunct Redactor?s Group, ...
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At the close of the fi rst decade of the twenty-fi rst century, Irish Ca- tholicism bears little trace of its once preeminent status among the branches of the Roman Catholic Church. It appears instead to be an in-creasingly endangered religious species. With the release in 2009 of two governmental inquires, commonly referred to as the Ryan and Murphy reports after the justices who presided over them, two decades of shame-...
1. Austin Clarke’s (Anti-)Confessional Poetics
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No modern Irish writer was more traumatized by Catholicism than the poet Austin Clarke (1896?1974). The specifi c cause of this psy-chic wounding emerges in his poetry only after decades of evasive dis-closures and silence. But if Clarke?s autobiography is to be believed, that early and distinctively Catholic trauma fashioned his imagination. He opens the fi rst volume of his memoirs, Twice Round the Black Church, by ...
2. Kavanagh’s Parochialism: A Catholic Poetics of Place
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W hile Austin Clarke?s confl ict with Catholicism centered upon control over the inner terrain of his psyche, for Patrick Kava-nagh, the countryman, the contested ground was external. Kavanagh?s effort to negotiate the tensions inherent in Catholicism?s attitude toward the landscape ultimately led him to fashion a spiritual cartography that drew upon Catholic principles and practices but transcended the insti-...
3. Partition and Communion in John Montague’s Poetry
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For poets raised in Protestant-dominated Northern Ireland such as John Montague, Catholicism was not just an instrument of oppres-sion, as it was for Austin Clarke and, to a lesser degree, Patrick Kavanagh. It was itself an object of persecution. In the northern state, Catholics were discriminated against politically and economically, and their religious beliefs were openly mocked. In the face of this sectarianism, Montague ...
4. Transcending Sacrifice: How Heaney Makes Room for the Marvelous
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No Irish writer since James Joyce has more openly acknowledged the infl uence of Catholicism upon his work than Seamus Heaney. Raised in a devout Catholic family in rural County Derry, Heaney grew up in an atmosphere thoroughly steeped in religion. He has frequently commented on the imaginative potency of this Catholic upbringing, which he says anchored his nascent consciousness within a ?light-fi lled, ...
5. Relics and Nuns in Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s Poetry: Sifting the Remains of Irish Catholicism
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By the turn of the millennium, the once imposing edifi ce of Irish Catholicism appeared increasingly derelict. Over the previous decade and a half, the authority of the Catholic Church had been badly damaged by legislative defeats on contraception and divorce as well as a series of scandalous revelations about sexual impropriety and abuse, beginning with the shocking disclosure in 1992 of the popular Bishop ...
6. Paul Durcan’s Priests: Refashioning Irish Masculinity
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If nuns remained largely occluded fi gures in Irish culture until the notorious revelations of abuse at mother and baby homes and Mag-dalen asylums brought them unwillingly into the national spotlight, that was distinctly not the case with priests. The preeminent status of the priest in Ireland was such that as late as 1969, the Irish historian John A. Murphy asserted that ?anti-clericalism of the negative secular type has ...
7. Paula Meehan’s Revised Marianism: The Apparitions of “Our Lady of the Facts of Life”
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There is an immense gulf separating the cultural milieus in which Austin Clarke and Paula Meehan began writing poetry, especially evident in the dwindling authority of the Catholic Church and an increas-ing openness about sexuality, characteristics of late modern Irish society that Clarke himself anticipated. Yet even in the last decades of the twenti-eth century, as Paul Durcan?s poetry testifi es, the Catholic Church contin-...
Epilogue: Religion and Poetry in Post-Catholic Ireland
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The poets examined in the preceding chapters all grew to maturity in a culture where the infl uence of Catholicism was pervasive and, although increasingly challenged, still potent. Whether in the form of the psychic policing enacted through confession, a circumscription of the landscape?s sacrality, sectarian appropriations of the Eucharist, a sacri-fi cial imperative to atone for sinfulness, a sense of nuns and priests as ...
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Irish Studies
Series Editor Byline: Jim MacKillop