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Thread: Poetry and Politics.

  1. #1
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    Default Poetry and Politics.

    Prompted by the mention of Derek Mahon in a thread last night I was thinking about the influence of politics on poetry (or indeed the influence of poetry on politics). With the likes Seamus Heaney in particular the impact of politics was evident, also with Mahon and even Eavan Boland (who along with Heaney I'm more familar with then Mahon) who is a voice for a strong politcal cause.

    So a rounded general discussion of poetry of politics if you wish, no need to tie it down to that from an Irish perspective either as my own favourite poem in this regard isn't Irish.
    It is, however, too long to replicate here so I'll provide a link. It's Locksley Hall by Alfred Lord Tennyson and can be read here.
    Happiness is a dry martini and a good woman … or a bad woman.
    –George Burns

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    The French Revolution impact on Blake's politics is evident in songs of innocence and experiance, if a little difficult to make out from the link I posted.
    Economic Left/Right -7.38
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -4.08

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    Default Re: Poetry and Politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by CookieMonster
    Prompted by the mention of Derek Mahon in a thread last night I was thinking about the influence of politics on poetry (or indeed the influence of poetry on politics). With the likes Seamus Heaney in particular the impact of politics was evident, also with Mahon and even Eavan Boland (who along with Heaney I'm more familar with then Mahon) who is a voice for a strong politcal cause.

    So a rounded general discussion of poetry of politics if you wish, no need to tie it down to that from an Irish perspective either as my own favourite poem in this regard isn't Irish.
    It is, however, too long to replicate here so I'll provide a link. It's Locksley Hall by Alfred Lord Tennyson and can be read here.
    I like Seamus Heaney's

    From the republic of conscience
    The only way to change the world is to win elections.

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    Default Re: Poetry and Politics.

    Quote Originally Posted by qtman

    I like Seamus Heaney's

    From the republic of conscience
    Oh that's one of the ones I was thinking about when I started this thread, but couldn't remember the name. Thanks for bringing it up.
    Secondary school ruined Heaney for me, it's only after I left that I started to like his work.
    Happiness is a dry martini and a good woman … or a bad woman.
    –George Burns

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    the anxiety of 20th century man and his personal crisis of faith in the institutions of public and private life , a poem of pessimism and reaction which still resonates , particularly its suspicion of enthusiasm and certainty.

    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-second-coming/

    my least favorite and perhaps more explicitly political poem , from the first two lines it is mendacious and self dramatising , but it exerts a great hold on many.


    http://members.tripod.com/~Sprayberry/poems/howl.txt
    "Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair"
    "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."
    Edmund Burke

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    Sonnet: England in 1819

    An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king, --
    Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
    Through public scorn, -- mud from a muddy spring, --
    Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
    But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
    Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow, --
    A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field, --
    An army, which liberticide and prey
    Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield, --
    Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
    Religion Christless, Godless -- a book sealed;
    A Senate, -- Time's worst statute unrepealed, --
    Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may
    Burst, to illumine our tempestous day.

    -- Percy Bysshe Shelley

    One of the best openings to a poem ever. It's about King George III's era in England and also about Napoleon. Some info. Shelley was fiercely politicised and I'd like to read more about and of him. I know Blake was too and Yeats - all kinda similar visionary fellas.

    Derek Mahon's stuff appealed to me during college but I really can't remember much about it now. I went to a debate in Galway during Cúirt once on how the Northern poets actually write decent poetry while the Southern ones write complete caca. The likes of Theo Dorgan were ripped asunder by the Northern antagonist on the panel. The chair, Nuala O'Faoilain was clearly not impartial.

    Have to say I could see the antagonists point completely from the pieces he read out and lambasted.

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    I see this work of Máire Mac an tSaoi as a political poem, a warning that it is so much easier to knock than to create:

    TREALL
    Tabhair dom casúr
    nó tua
    go mbrisfead is
    go millfead
    an teach seo,
    go ndéanfad tairseach
    den fhardoras
    ’gus urláir
    de na ballaí
    go dtiocfaidh scraith
    agus díon agus
    similéir anuas
    le neart mo chuid
    allais –

    Sín chugam anois
    Na cláir is na tairní
    go dtóigfead
    an teach eile seo –

    Ach, a Dhia, táim tuirseach!
    'To attempt to rerun a referendum as a means of reversing the democratic decision taken by the people would be rightly regarded as an affront'. Dick Roche TD 21.12.01

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    Anyone remember this from school?

    W. H. Auden

    O What Is That Sound

    O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
    Down inthe valley drumming, drumming?
    Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
    The soldiers coming.

    O what is that light I see flashing so clear
    Over the distance brightly, brightly ?
    Only the sun on their weapons, dear,
    As they step lightly.

    O what are they doing with all that gear
    What are they doing this morning, this morning?
    Only the usual manoeuvres, dear,
    Or perhaps a warning.

    O why have they left the road down there
    Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?
    Perhaps a change in the orders, dear,
    Why are you kneeling ?

    O haven't they stopped for the doctor's care
    Haven't they reined their horses, their horses ?
    Why, they are none of them wounded, dear,
    None of these forces.

    O is it the parson they want with white hair;
    Is it the parson, is it, is it ?
    No, they are passing his gateway, dear,
    Without a visit.

    O it must be the farmer who lives so near
    It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?
    They have passed the farm already, dear,
    And now they are running.

    O where are you going? stay with me here!
    Were the vows you swore me deceiving, deceiving?
    No, I promised to love you, dear,
    But I must be leaving.

    O it's broken the lock and splintered the door,
    O it's the gate where they're turning, turning
    Their feet are heavy on the floor
    And their eyes are burning.

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    In Memory Of Eva Gore-Booth And Con Markiewicz
    William Butler Yeats

    The light of evening, Lissadell,
    Great windows open to the south,
    Two girls in silk kimonos, both
    Beautiful, one a gazelle.
    But a raving autumn shears
    Blossom from the summer's wreath;
    The older is condemned to death,
    Pardoned, drags out lonely years
    Conspiring among the ignorant.
    I know not what the younger dreams -
    Some vague Utopia - and she seems,
    When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,
    An image of such politics.
    Many a time I think to seek
    One or the other out and speak
    Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
    pictures of the mind, recall
    That table and the talk of youth,
    Two girls in silk kimonos, both
    Beautiful, one a gazelle.

    continued...

  10. #10
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    This passage is quoted in the Explanatory Note in the beginning of the Committe on Constitutional Affairs' Report to the European Parliament on the Lisbon Treaty:


    There is a tide in the affairs of men,
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we now afloat;
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose our ventures.

    William Shakespeare. Julius Caesar.


    ......

    I think those lines in this great tragedy are spoken by Brutus as he is trying to persuade Caesar to wage war on Antony and Octavius.
    'To attempt to rerun a referendum as a means of reversing the democratic decision taken by the people would be rightly regarded as an affront'. Dick Roche TD 21.12.01

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