Well that was a starting title for a post 2017 moment. After sitting on the couch for what seems weeks, watching a lot of TV of the Lewis, Cracker kind, a start had to be made into the seeming piles of books stored away in the wardrobe. Trouble is I began with Neil Corcoran’s The Poetry of Seamus Heaney .and that was the first mistake; I’m a sucker for Heaney. That lasted through the first few pages of background biography and then came the curve ball; Patrick Kavanagh! I seem to remember trying to read him at TASC maybe 46 years ago or even more. God, I do wander off……….
Well, in Neil’s link to Kavanagh, and the influence on Heaney, the obvious route he pointed to was the rural rumination. Not the bucolic romanticism of John Clare but the man of the land who has used his experiences and addressed his needs as a poet through his vernacular. [ Jeeze, I sound like a Corcoran!]
Anyway, off I went on the tangent / curve and found myself immersed in The Great Hunger. What a revelation of the earthiness and loneliness of rural Irish peasantry and poverty; not only physical but also the mental.[ Reeves and Reeves’s dad would skin me for being so petty minded] The single state of many of the blokes who filled my world in Carlisle KSC and some of the lads at TASC derives from that world where the dominatrix mother keeps her kids celibate and close to the apron strings. Patrick McGuire is the man in The Great Hunger but he could be anyone of many. There but for god etc.…………
The sexual tension, the repression, the insensibility to many of the things going on around, the repressed or averted futures, all lost in a promise of something better will come tomorrow or next year or next birthday. Think of the two Johnnies in the KSC, no family to return to in Carlisle and , no homeland, no anything beyond the bottle and the betting shop, Think of big Liam at TASC who had the same flaws but thought at least he had a future as a teacher once he’d shrugged off his past. Think of us, the better educated working class / lower middle class English kids who saw a different future through the eyes of a different past. Although it was the Irish lads who mocked him, we just looked on and wondered. Ok, my great grandfather was a train carriage cleaner and his son was seemingly a journeyman tailor, but all their experiences were urban, the rural from Antrim or Armagh were far behind them. Grandma Mary T was a teacher as was her sister. The rural, bucolic was very far behind.
more will follow on this theme