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The All-Sustaining AirRomantic Legacies and Renewals in British, American, and Irish Poetry since 1900$
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Michael O'Neill

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299287

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299287.001.0001

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‘Shining in Modest Glory’: Post‐Romantic Strains in Kavanagh, Heaney, Mahon, Carson, and Others

‘Shining in Modest Glory’: Post‐Romantic Strains in Kavanagh, Heaney, Mahon, Carson, and Others

(p.121) 6 ‘Shining in Modest Glory’: Post‐Romantic Strains in Kavanagh, Heaney, Mahon, Carson, and Others
The All-Sustaining Air

Michael O'Neill (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The chapter's sub-title employs a pun in ‘strains’ — meaning poetic music and tensions — to suggest the divided but productive use to which Romantic poetry is put in the work of 20th- and 21st-century poets from or associated with Northern Ireland. If John Montague asserts ‘No Wordsworthian dream enchants me here’, his poetry is full of Wordsworthian concerns. The second section explores Patrick Kavanagh's response to Romantic poets, such as Wordsworth and Shelley in later sonnets. In particular, he responds with bravura and pathos to the outrageous rhyming he admired in Byron's comic poetry. Kavanagh replays in these sonnets the debate about art's purposes and interaction with history found in Romantic poetry. Section 3 shows how Heaney's own conflicts — between imagination and reality, art and public responsibilities — both mirror those discernible in the Romantics and represent a dialectical turn against Romantic poetry. The section also explores the indeterminate, nuanced nature of Carson's intertextual relations with Keats, and the subtle use of Shelley and Wordsworth in Derek Mahon. Section 4 offers a fuller account of Heaney's response to Romantic poetry, while section 5 briefly looks at the way in which in Derek Mahon, Romanticism is refracted through Symbolist or Decadent prisms.

Keywords:   Romanticism, public, imagination, reality, art, history, Symbolist, Decadent

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