The Modern Irish Sonnet

Alan Gillis

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

The Modern Irish Sonnet

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



Sonnets saturate recent Irish poetry, reflecting broader trends. The sonnet's modishness in contemporary Irish poetry is relatively new. Few sonnets before W. B. Yeats are found in the Irish anthologies, even one as commodious as Patrick Crotty's The Penguin Book of Irish Poetry, published in 2010. In various ways, Yeats set a precedent for sonnetary innovation. After him, it was Patrick Kavanagh who played a key role in the mushrooming of fourteen-liners in Ireland. Since then, through the 1960s and 1970s, Irish sonnets kept ticking over and have become a category. Notable Irish poets who write sonnets are Ciaran Carson, Seamus Heaney, Leontia Flynn, Michael Longley, John Montague, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, and David Wheatley. But it was Paul Muldoon who predominated over this phenomenon.

Keywords: sonnets; Irish poetry; poets; Ireland; W. B. Yeats; Paul Muldoon; Seamus Heaney; Patrick Kavanagh; John Montague; Michael Longley

Article.  10376 words. 

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

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