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Book Description

Quarto (244 x 184mm), pp. ix, [1 (blank)], 24, [2 (blank l.)]. Frontispiece. Original plain white wrappers, printed green dustwrapper, retaining price. (Dustwrapper very slightly faded on spine and outer areas of covers, and with residue of small adhesive label on lower panel.) A fine copy in very good wrappers.
Dealer Notes
First UK edition, wrappers issue. Kavanagh (1904-1967) ‘is acknowledged by most Irish poets who began writing in the 1960s and thereafter as a pivotal figure in twentieth-century Irish literature and as a seminal influence on Irish verse. By precept and example he steered Irish poetry away from its post-colonial obsession with ethnicity in theme and language and its preference for the historical and national rather than the contemporary and personal. He advocated that poetry should be confessional yet carefree; draw its images from the trivia of everyday life and its language from the argot of street and pub; cultivate a casual, relaxed vernacular style, avoiding the bardic or technically intricate; above all, that it should convey personality, capture a mood or an attitude—wonder, love, delight, pain’ (ODNB).

Lough Derg takes its title from the island in Co. Donegal, which is the site of the traditional pilgrimage, St Patrick’s Purgatory, during which pilgrims fast for three days and three nights, and was written in 1942, after Kavanagh had visited the shrine in 1940 and again in 1942. The poem was, however, left in manuscript (and apparently unrevised), until it appeared posthumously in 1978: it was first published in Britain in this edition, which appeared in simultaneous cloth and wrappers issues (as here), with an introduction by the Irish poet and 2004 Ireland Professor of Poetry, Paul Durcan (an Irish edition was published by the Goldsmith Press at The Curragh in 1978, with an introduction by the author’s brother).

Discussing the poem in the context of rural Irish Catholicism and the Ireland of De Valera, Duncan concludes that, ‘it is for the linguistic integrity of the poem that one so deeply admires it: due to the incredible pitch at which total variety, yet total simplicity, is sustained, there is continuous sustenance to be had from the poem’ (p. viii).

Author KAVANAGH, Patrick Joseph.
Date 1978
Publisher London: T. & A. Constable for Martin, Brian & O’Keefe.

Price: £35.00

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