Catholic Art and Culture: Clarke to Heaney

Gail McConnell

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

Catholic Art and Culture: Clarke to Heaney

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


Show Summary Details


This chapter discusses Catholic art and culture by focusing on Irish poetry, particularly the work of three poets raised in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland: Austin Clarke, Patrick Kavanagh, and Seamus Heaney. It examines Clarke's topical social critique and satire of Catholic institutions, as well as the subtle, grammatical resistances of his poetry. The chapter also considers Kavanagh's praise and prayer poems made in response to the glimpses of God he found in nature and the rural community. In addition, it analyses the iconography of Heaney's poetry, which draws on Catholic observance and ritual, as well as New Criticism, not only to create verbal icons but also to seek Real Presence in poetic form. Aside from its thematic engagement with Catholicism, the chapter examines Clarke's variations on Gaelic poetry, narrative poems, and wordplay; Kavanagh's poetic observances; Heaney's sacramental poetics; and the poem as icon.

Keywords: Catholic art; culture; Irish poetry; Ireland; Austin Clarke; Patrick Kavanagh; Seamus Heaney; prayer poems; Gaelic poetry; sacramental poetics

Article.  9050 words. 

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

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.