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Melancholy in contemporary Irish poetry: The 'metre generation' and Mahon

Darcy, Ailbhe ORCID: 2017. Melancholy in contemporary Irish poetry: The 'metre generation' and Mahon. C21 Literature 5 (1) , pp. 1-26. 10.16995/c21.13

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This article explores the influence of Derek Mahon’s melancholic poetry on a younger generation of Irish poets. Drawing on Peter Schwenger’s The Tears of Things: Melancholy and Physical Objects (2006), it argues that Mahon’s influential early poems deliberately provoke melancholy in order to insist upon the subject’s alienation from the world. It traces how the poets Justin Quinn and David Wheatley take on and reject aspects of Mahon’s influence, with a focus on this melancholy. Quinn rejects Mahon’s melancholy and comes to insist emphatically upon connectedness, resulting in his development of a poetics pledged to traditional forms and full rhymes. Wheatley hews fast to early Mahon’s insistence on a gap between us and the world, inflecting that gap with a keen consciousness of environmental crisis. His trajectory, in contrast with later Mahon, is towards an embrace of disjunctive modernist techniques as a means of acknowledging our disconnectedness from the world. Attending to the ways in which Quinn and Wheatley work with and against Mahon’s influence sheds light on the ‘Metre generation’ as one whose poetic inheritance enables a sophisticated and exciting use of form as a tool with which to think through the individual’s relationship to the world.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Uncontrolled Keywords: melancholy, Mahon, poetic form, contemporary Irish poetry, David Wheatley, Justin Quinn
Publisher: Open Library of Humanities
ISSN: 2045-5224
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 February 2017
Date of Acceptance: 12 September 2016
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2023 19:50

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