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Louis MacNeice and the Irish Poetry of his Time$
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Tom Walker

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198745150

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198745150.001.0001

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A Little Solemnity

A Little Solemnity

Chapter:
(p.135) 5 A Little Solemnity
Source:
Louis MacNeice and the Irish Poetry of his Time
Author(s):

Tom Walker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198745150.003.0006

This chapter explores how MacNeice’s growing wariness of the notion of Irish character in the second half of the 1950s was paralleled in the work of other Irish poets, mostly of a younger generation, including Anthony Cronin, John Montague, Thomas Kinsella, and Richard Murphy, as well as developments in the work of older poets such as Austin Clarke and Patrick Kavanagh. MacNeice’s own belated contribution to ‘The Character of Ireland’ project, a verse prologue, is read as a critique of the way in which national character gets written and of the historiography on which it is based. Furthermore, MacNeice is shown as attempting to move Ireland beyond the trap of character in recasting Irish place as a space, and an interconnected reformulation of a poetic’s of song as a vehicle for the profound contemplation of existence, in sequences such as ‘Donegal Triptych’ and ‘A Hand of Snapshots’.

Keywords:   literariness, internationalism, existentialism, place, space, song, Shakespeare

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