Edited By Benjamin Keatinge and Mary Pierse
Drawing on the disciplines of history, art, economics and literature, and dipping into the good wines of France and Ireland, the book paints a fascinating picture of the relationship between the two countries over three dramatic centuries.
Chagall, Balthus, Picasso, Lascaux: French Influences on Paul Durcan’s Engagement with the Irish Public Imagination
Born into a patrician family and counting among his relatives Maud Gonne, Major John MacBride and Seán MacBride, Paul Durcan has always been deeply engaged with the question of the Irish public imagination. In the public perception, Durcan’s name has become associated with philippics against the perceived narrow-mindedness of senior Catholic clergy, the chastising of media self-righteousness and the lamenting of the visionless cowardice of some in political high office. All of this, allied with a raft of such overtly topical works as ‘The Divorce Referendum, Ireland, 1986’ and ‘The Bloomsday Murders, 16 June 1997’ attests to the poet’s care for the moral and civic climate, for his country’s imaginative life. At the root of his care for the tenor and content of civil and moral discourse is the implicit understanding, shared with theorist of nationalism Benedict Anderson, that each nation is ‘an imagined political community’.1
Durcan’s world, in which public and private realms are seldom entirely distinguishable, is one where the social and epistemological centrality of imagination is paramount; a world where ‘in reality fiction is all that matters’.2 Though the poet does invoke imagination, public and private, by name, more often the word ‘dream’ is used as a cognate to connote generative, creative space and activity. Hence, for example, we find both a terrorist with a ‘dream gun blood-smeared’ and innocent lovers who ‘dreamed our ← 189 | 190 → dreams of a green, green flag’ in his 1978 volume Sam’s Cross.3 The gunman and the...
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