Island of Daemons: The Lough Derg Pilgrimage & the Poets Patrick Kavanagh, Denis Devlin & Seamus Heaney

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1st Edition

240 x 160 mm. 224pp Illustrated.... [In stock in Australia, for immediate delivery]

Island of Daemons interprets accounts of the Donegal pilgrimage including histories, guidebooks, devotional writing, newspaper and magazine articles, as well as three major poems by 20h-century Irish poets.

The pilgrimage history documents religious and political themes as well as the experience of pilgrimage as arduous, enlightening, and humbling. Early writings often stressed the sensational, with miracles, devils, and hideous torture. Most Lough Derg writings have been devotional, but there is a strong tradition of satire as well. Scepticism competes with reverence. It is important to locate each modern poet within a tradition of choices made in times past. This study, attempting to register the variety of attitudes associated with Lough Derg, depends at times on hypothesis - speculative possibilities rather than definite sources or influences.

Chapter 1 charts the history of the pilgrimage from medieval times to the present. Chapter 2 is about Denis Devlin's 'Lough Derg' and his coming to grips with European as well as Irish traditions. His meditative poem was written in 1942 against a background of war. The poem begins as satire but moves towards contemplation. Difficult and displaced language and syntax indicate the complexity of his religious perceptions.

Chapter 3 studies Patrick Kavanagh's 'Lough Derg', written about the same time as Devlin's poem but not published until after he died in 1967. Its method is fictional narrative, a story of three seekers and a poet who come to Lough Derg.

Chapter 4 deals with Seamus Heaney's 'Station Island', mainly written in 1984. His pilgrimage resembles necromancy as he evokes the ghosts of writers, teachers, family, and friends, including victims of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland whose Dantean returns stimulate remorse. This study locates the poets in relation to their poetic history and looks at revisions as indicative of personal judgement.

The ordinary pilgrim participates in a set ritual with prescribed prayer and song. The poet presents a different logic and, because the pilgrimage has so little to do with poetic joy, the poet needs to supply contexts that redeem the task: for Devlin the history of religion, for Kavanagh the immediacy of human observation and the stimulus of sacred intuitions, for Heaney ghosts and hallucinations. The three poets are fideists. They make of Lough Derg a special symbol, and their very different poems explore a similar collection of spiritual possibilities.

This study will be useful to Irish Studies students, teachers of Irish literature and history, as well as those interested in cultural studies and religion.

Terence Dewsnap is a Professor at Bard College.
^ Literary Criticism ^

(9780874130232)

SKU 9780874130232
Barcode # 9780874130232
Brand AUP
Artist / Author Terence DEWSNAP

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