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Modern Irish Poetry and The Visual Arts: Yeats to Heaney

Neil Corcoran

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/9780199561247.013.0016

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Modern Irish Poetry and The Visual Arts: Yeats to Heaney

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Modern poetry has been constantly engaged with the visual arts since the ‘imagism’ of the early twentieth century. Poetry about visual representations, known as ekphrasis, has been endemic to modern poetry. Modern Irish poetry was initiated by W. B. Yeats, who himself trained briefly in an art school, and often makes reference to painting and sculpture in both his poetry and prose. In his Oxford Book of Modern Verse, he opens with a ‘free verse’ lineation of Walter Pater's famous passage on La Gioconda in The Renaissance, arguing that ‘only by putting it in free verse can one show its revolutionary importance’. However, the extremely undistinguished verse resulting may be allowed instead to suggest Yeats's sense of the inextricability of poetry and painting in the foundational aesthetics of modernism. This chapter explores the link between modern Irish poetry and the visual arts, focusing on the works of various poets such as Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Louis MacNeice, Brian Coffey, Padraic Fallon, Michael Longley, and Derek Mahon.

Keywords: Irish poetry; visual arts; Seamus Heaney; W. B. Yeats; Michael Longley; Derek Mahon; modernism; poets; Padraic Fallon; Louis MacNeice

Article.  7384 words. 

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

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