Article

‘Pledged to Ireland’: The Poets and Poems of Easter 1916

Gerald Dawe

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561247
Published online January 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199561247.013.0005

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

‘Pledged to Ireland’: The Poets and Poems of Easter 1916

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In the Easter week of 1916, Irish Volunteers took over several locations in Dublin as acts of insurrectionary defiance against continuing British rule in Ireland. The leading figures of the rebellion were executed, including three poets known as ‘The 1916 poets’: Thomas MacDonagh, Padraic Pearse, and Joseph Mary Plunkett. The pastoral poet Francis Ledwidge knew, and was known by, the poet-leaders of the Rising, and wrote elegies for Plunkett and MacDonagh. He also honoured Plunkett's wife, Mary Gifford, who had married her ailing fiancé on the night before he was executed by firing squad. In ‘The Messianic Ideal’, Richard J. Loftus identifies the main literary influences and metaphorical tropes of Pearse, MacDonagh, and Plunkett, along with the ideological pulses that they share as nationalist activists. The idea of commemoration, a systemic part of Irish poetry in Irish and transcribed into Irish poetry in English during the nineteenth century, is most recognisable in several poems written by W. B. Yeats in response to the Easter Rising of 1916 and also in his 1919 play, The Dreaming of the Bones.

Keywords: Easter Rising; W. B. Yeats; Ireland; Irish Volunteers; Irish poetry; rebellion; Thomas MacDonagh; Padraic Pearse; Joseph Mary Plunkett; Dreaming of Bones

Article.  7169 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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