Marina Carr’s plays By the Bog of Cats (1998) and Woman and Scarecrow (2006) further a tradition of lyrical laments that differ from formal elegies in the Gaelic tradition (marbhnaí,) and funeral laments (caoineadh). These “death songs” perform the emotions of the author or “songstitcher” in the play. The melancholia and rage of the main characters, particularly Hester Swane in By the Bog of Cats, emerges and circles from the factr that their mothers who abandoned them through death or disappearance. The continued performances of Josie Swane’s songs—by Hester, the ghost of Joseph, and young Josie—reinitiate Hester’s trauma and loss. The plays, sometimes tagged Bog Gothic, lyrically circle such emotions while ghosts haunt the living, dead swans serve as symbols, and songs rehearse an aesthetics of loss. The plays toy with the authority of the lyrical “I,” and, by extension, the lost mothers of Carr’s poetic imagination.


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pp. 51-75
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