Kavanagh was born in Inniskeen, County Monaghan, Ireland in 1904,
the son of a cobbler-cum-small
farmer. He left school at the age of thirteen, apparently destined to
plough the 'stony-grey soil' rather than write about it, but 'I dabbled
in verse,' he said, 'and it became my life.'
He spent the lean years of the war in Dublin, where his epic poem
The Great Hunger was published in 1942. After the war he published
the novel Tarry
Flynn (1948) which is a about a small time farmer who dreams of
a different life as a writer and a poet.
He also published Two further collections of verse: A Soul for Sale (1947)
and Come Dance with Kitty Stobling (1960). The bulk of his verse was included
in his Collected Prose.
can buy a copy of his Selected
Poems now at Amazon..
There is also a recently published edition of his Collected Poems for salePatrick Kavanagh a Biography by Antoinette Quinn is also available on Amazon.
A Poet's Country: Selected Prose This book contains a selection of shorter prose works from throughout Kavanagh's career: the autobiographical pieces and rural reminiscences and a selection of Kavanagh's penetrating literary and cultural criticism. Edited by Antoinette Quinn
Here are some samples of his poems ...
They laughed at one I loved- The triangular hill that hung Under the Big Forth. They said That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges Of the little farm and did not know the world. But I knew that love's doorway to life Is the same doorway everywhere. Ashamed of what I loved I flung her from me and called her a ditch Although she was smiling at me with violets. But now I am back in her briary arms The dew of an Indian Summer lies On bleached potato-stalks What age am I? I do not know what age I am, I am no mortal age; I know nothing of women,Nothing of cities, I cannot dieUnless I walk outside these whitethorn hedges.
Shancoduff by Patrick Kavanagh
My black hills have never seen the sun rising, Eternally they look North towards Armagh. Lot's wife would not be salt if she had been Incurious as my black hills that are happy When dawn whitens Glassdrummond chapel. My hills hoard the bright shillings of March While the sun searches in every pocket. They are my Alps and I have climbed the Matterhorn With a sheaf of hay for three perishing calves In the field under the Big Forth of Rocksavage. The sleety winds fondle the the rushy beards of Shancoduff While the cattle - drovers sheltering in the Featherna Bush Look up and say: "Who owns them hungry hills That the water - hen and snip must have forsaken? A poet? Then by heavens he must be poor." I hear and is my heart not badly shaken?
Stony Grey Soil by Patrick Kavanagh