Notes and Narratives
Edited By Una Hunt and Mary Pierse
Silent Pictures in Mind and Memory: Irish Poets and a Proustian Madeleine?
Pas de grande poésie sans silence.1
Three Irish poets of our times – Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Bernard O’Donoghue and Dennis O’Driscoll – are justly celebrated for their artistic output. There are remarkable shared qualities in their disparate approaches to poetry: amongst them are the incorporation of a wealth of suggestion, allied to history and place, and an originality that generates a spark for the reader. In several instances, that particular combination, although constructed in words, arises rather silently and in a soundlessness that is particularly conducive to stimulation of reflection, memory, and even argument or dispute. This paper will suggest that such quietude in words facilitates perception of what might lie in and behind the lines, and thereby allows a wealth of imaginative riches to flow from their compositions.
Understandings of memory differ. In poetry, the featuring of memories has long been accepted as a recognised approach, and reminiscence could possibly be viewed as central to the genre, especially in the nineteenth century. In the Anglophone world, that expectation might be seen as part of the legacy of Wordsworth’s rather deceptive ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity’. In the context of French literature, recording of memory is popularly and inevitably associated with Marcel Proust and his seven volumes of A la Recherche du temps perdu, written between 1913 and 1927. It is particularly interesting to note that two English translations of that title add further possible elucidations of the nature of memory. The differing ← 127...
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