By Andrew J. Auge
A Chastened Communion lines a brand new course in the course of the well-traversed box of recent Irish poetry by means of revealing how severe engagement with Catholicism shapes the trajectory of the poetic careers of Austin Clarke, Patrick Kavanagh, John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan, and Paula Meehan.
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Extra info for A Chastened Communion: Modern Irish Poetry and Catholicism
Similarly, his more well-known Northern compatriot, Seamus Heaney (1939–) traces the guilt attending his poetic vocation 14 | A C h a st en ed Commu n ion to the sacrificial impetus that Irish Catholicism channels into mundane acts of self-denial as well as grander penitential exercises. When Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (1942–) interrogates the spectral figure of the nun haunting her imagination, she exposes the ambiguous legacy of Catholic women religious in Irish culture, the way in which they subverted the dominant patriarchal structure even as they were co-opted by it.
Eliot’s distinction between the self-consciousness of Metaphysical devotional poetry and a more authentic religious literature that would be “unconsciously . . ”40 Eliot’s exemplar of the latter is Dante, whose Catholic faith, in contrast to Joyce, remained indisputable. Yet for Joyce, as for Dante, the Catholicism that permeated his culture entered his work less by invitation than by osmosis. While Devlin is often identified as Catholic poet, such a label could not be comfortably attached to any of the poets surveyed in this book.
27 Whatever Carleton’s penchant for exaggerating abuses in Catholic practice, the basic accuracy of his description is confirmed by the considerable efforts that the Catholic hierarchy took to delimit confession to churches and, thereby, eradicate a custom they regarded as barbarous and ineffectual. Resistance to this new and more private form of confession was so strong though that the practice of holding “stations of confession” persisted well after the Dublin provincial decrees of 1831 called for their abolition.
A Chastened Communion: Modern Irish Poetry and Catholicism by Andrew J. Auge