Article

‘Our Lost Lives’: Protestantism and Northern Irish Poetry

Peter McDonald

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/9780199561247.013.0030

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

‘Our Lost Lives’: Protestantism and Northern Irish Poetry

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In 2010, Derek Mahon published a collection of poems entitled An Autumn Wind, dedicated to celebrated (and now elderly) poetic contemporaries such as Seamus Heaney, John Montague, and Michael Longley. He also wrote a substantial elegy for James Simmons (1933–2001) called ‘Art and Reality’ that involves religion, politics, and literary history. This chapter explores ‘Protestant’ aesthetics in Northern Irish poetry. Few European societies are in a better position than Northern Ireland to know the perniciousness of sectarianism, which has blighted Northern Ireland from the beginning. A Northern Irish poet of this generation, John Hewitt, occupies a significant position as a voice for what one might call cultural Protestantism in Ulster.

Keywords: Irish poetry; Protestantism; Ulster; Northern Ireland; Derek Mahon; elegy; James Simmons; aesthetics; sectarianism; John Hewitt

Article.  9915 words. 

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

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