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The (Im)Palpable: Two Cycladic Landscapes in the Poetry of Derek Mahon and Michael Longley

The (Im)Palpable: Two Cycladic Landscapes in the Poetry of Derek Mahon and Michael Longley This paper juxtaposes two poems depicting Cycladic landscapes: “Christmas in Kinsale” by Derek Mahon (1997) and “A Hundred Doors” by Michael Longley (2011). Mahon’s is a spiritual landscape based on the essential natural features of the Greek archipelago; in the poem, written from the perspective of his home in Kinsale, Ireland, the Greek landscape provides a counterbalance for global cultural and environmental crisis. Longley’s poem focuses on Cycladic cultural heritage which connects the present with the past via elements of nature personified in the poem. Both poets relate landscape to the spheres of imagination and memory as well as to notions of home, place and identity. Taking into account their Northern Irish origin, these concepts gain a political dimension, especially in Longley’s case. The paper situates both texts in the framework of ecocriticism, backed up with archaeological, historical and political facts, and argues that the poems represent the type of engagement with the world defined by Lawrence Buell as ‘registered and energized’ by ‘acts of environmental imagination’. Given the historical discontinuity in Ireland and Greece, writing landscape is not just an aesthetic venture, but also brings forth ecological, economic, cultural, political and spiritual concerns. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Landscapes Taylor & Francis

The (Im)Palpable: Two Cycladic Landscapes in the Poetry of Derek Mahon and Michael Longley

Landscapes , Volume 17 (1): 20 – Jan 2, 2016
20 pages

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References (35)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
ISSN
2040-8153
eISSN
1466-2035
DOI
10.1080/14662035.2016.1169032
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper juxtaposes two poems depicting Cycladic landscapes: “Christmas in Kinsale” by Derek Mahon (1997) and “A Hundred Doors” by Michael Longley (2011). Mahon’s is a spiritual landscape based on the essential natural features of the Greek archipelago; in the poem, written from the perspective of his home in Kinsale, Ireland, the Greek landscape provides a counterbalance for global cultural and environmental crisis. Longley’s poem focuses on Cycladic cultural heritage which connects the present with the past via elements of nature personified in the poem. Both poets relate landscape to the spheres of imagination and memory as well as to notions of home, place and identity. Taking into account their Northern Irish origin, these concepts gain a political dimension, especially in Longley’s case. The paper situates both texts in the framework of ecocriticism, backed up with archaeological, historical and political facts, and argues that the poems represent the type of engagement with the world defined by Lawrence Buell as ‘registered and energized’ by ‘acts of environmental imagination’. Given the historical discontinuity in Ireland and Greece, writing landscape is not just an aesthetic venture, but also brings forth ecological, economic, cultural, political and spiritual concerns.

Journal

LandscapesTaylor & Francis

Published: Jan 2, 2016

Keywords: Derek Mahon; Michael Longley; Irish poetry; ecocriticism; Cycladic landscape

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