Befitting Emblems: The Early 1970s

Heather Clark

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561247
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Befitting Emblems: The Early 1970s

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In the early 1970s, Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland experienced violence because of the Troubles. The year 1972 saw thousands of shootings and explosions that killed nearly 500 people and injured 5,000 others. This escalating sectarian violence thrust Northern Ireland and Irish poets onto the international limelight. Many Irish poets, including W. B. Yeats and Louis MacNeice, wrote during the Troubles. Form played an important role in several Irish collections in the early 1970s, particularly John Montague's The Rough Field, Thomas Kinsella's Butcher's Dozen: A Lesson for the Octave of Widgery, Derek Mahon's The Snow Party, Seamus Heaney's North, and Eavan Boland's The War Horse. Although Irish poets showed aversion to writing ‘Troubles poetry’, the political situation in Northern Ireland formed the presiding preoccupation of these collections. The Rough Field combines protest and postmodern collage, marking a new direction in Irish poetry.

Keywords: Irish poetry; Troubles; Northern Ireland; John Montague; Rough Field; Thomas Kinsella; protest; Derek Mahon; Seamus Heaney; W. B. Yeats

Article.  6236 words. 

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

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