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Patrick Kavanagh - Irish Poet and Writer












Moving to Ireland

Patrick Kavanagh was born in Inniskeen, County Monaghan, Ireland in 1904, the son of a Patrick Kavanaghcobbler-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.'
His poems celebrate the scenery and land of his native Inniskeen. In 1936 his first book of verse, Ploughman and Other Poems, was published, and in 1938 he followed this up with The Green Fool, an autobiography.

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.
He died in 1967 and is buried in Inniskeen.

You can buy a copy of his Selected Poems now at Amazon..

There is also a recently published edition of his Collected Poems for sale

Patrick 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 ...

Innocence by Patrick Kavanagh

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 

O stony grey soil of Monaghan The laugh from my love you thieved; You took the gay child of my passion And gave me your clod-conceived. You clogged the feet of my boyhood And I believed that my stumble Had the poise and stride of Apollo And his voice my thick tongued mumble. You told me the plough was immortal! O green-life conquering plough! The mandril stained, your coulter blunted In the smooth lea-field of my brow.

You sang on steaming dunghills A song of cowards' brood, You perfumed my clothes with weasel itch, You fed me on swinish food You flung a ditch on my vision Of beauty, love and truth. O stony grey soil of Monaghan You burgled my bank of youth! Lost the long hours of pleasure All the women that love young men. O can I stilll stroke the monster's back Or write with unpoisoned pen. His name in these lonely verses Or mention the dark fields where The first gay flight of my lyric Got caught in a peasant's prayer. Mullahinsa, Drummeril, Black Shanco- Wherever I turn I see In the stony grey soil of Monaghan Dead loves that were born for me.

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