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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: August 1, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

    Poetry and Politics

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Always fascinated by the intersection between art and politics. For more, click   here

    • DesJay says:

      What a disjointed mish-mash of thoughts.

      Mario Cuomo’s comment, campaign in poetry etc., has nothing to do with poetry, but refers to the practice of politicians campaigning on desirable issues and governing on the hard necessities.

      Cowen’s comment was rightly criticised by Mahon et al. Attempting to co-opt art to the needs of politicians, or indeed to the perceived needs of the materialistic herd knwn as “the people,” is the antithesis of art. It reminds one of a Nazi film maker.

      Real art would remind people that we live not by bread alone…

    • Cuomo meant that we campaign on ideals but govern in realities: poetry versus prose. Your elitist phrase, “the materialistic herd known as ‘the people’,” is closer to totalitarian-speak than anything I have written. Your statement, “Real art would remind people that we live not by bread alone …” suggests a new twist on the old Roman recipe: circuses but no bread this time.

    • Robespierre says:

      Interesting to some extent but I must express bilious distaste for the idea of poetry as part of brand Ireland. I work in business and have dabbled in poetry. Poetry is a high art and it is as dispiriting as it is disgusting to hear an educated man think that the vocations of Thomas Kinsella or Michael Longley or Paul Durcan can be popped under a brand.

      Of course in the reality you talk about this happens. The Publishing world publishes themed collections like Daisy Goodwin’s fine collections that have helped reintroduce poetry to many people in my peer group that only know what they were forced to study in the old Leaving Certificate poetry book “Soundings”.

      Only yesterday, I was reading a delightful, humourous experimental poem called “Academic Graffitti” by WH Auden that is as clever an observational ditty as I have come across. Sadly, while this is something thrown together off the top of his head, I fear it would be beyond the oafs that write political scripts.

      There are some poets of course in the Dáil like Michael D Higgins and others like Senator David Norris who has written one-man shows. We have not had heavyweights involved in mainstream debate or parliamentary politics for a long time probably because of the leprous flesh on the Irish body politic. As Swift put it, Ireland is the sow that eats her own farrow.

    • eixnim says:

      Interesting that some of the most sublime poetry/prose ever written came out of a time when religion and politics were not separate, as for example, Ancient Israel and the Monarchic Era (c 1000-586 BC). To be sure, there is much dispute in (secular) Biblical Scholarship with regard to the history of Ancient Israel and the Biblical account but who could dispute that The Book of Psalms and The Song of Solomon (Song of Songs), for example, are not amongst the greatest art treasures of the world. Wisdom Literature, as in antiquity, doesn’t seem to feature in modernity — Western Civilization, at any rate, and certainly not in politics, more is the pity. Lost for inspiration, perhaps. But give me the deafening drone of the vuvuzelas any day over the thought of poetry sessions in the Dail or the Senate with Monsieur airy-fairy Michael lofty D Higgins or Monsieur hoity-toity David esoteric Norris. The previous Ceann Comhairle had a way with words mind….

    • eixnim says:

      ps meant to say, also what a well-written piece it was by Deaglán on the intersection between art and politics. The meeting of art and science is also fascinating — and how did every discipline become so pigeon-holed anyway and separate as though they existed separately — art, at any rate, takes it all to that higher level perhaps where there is harmony and perhaps that is where we took it all from in the first place…………

    • kynos says:

      Most peasants don’t have an original thought from one day of the week to the others. They’re thick as shit and proud of it each one thicker than his brother. My mother always says the Irish had to turn peasant a thousand years ago just to survive. . We had to, en masse, as a nation, retreat into the stony gray soil, fling ditches across our vision, perfume our clothes with weasel itch and feed upon swinish food. We had to numb ourselves to the world, to retreat into a bathyscape from which we might observe strange and wonderful forms of light moving around but shiver, quailing in superstitious fear within, afraid to pierce the bubble and be drowned. Pace Mr Day Lewis from whom I pinched some of the imagery and scansion in that last line. And Mr Kavanagh from whom I pinched it in the preceding one. The doggerel in the first is me own. But it was different over a thousand years ago. At least, if we are to believe the likes of Standish O’Grady and Yeats and George Moore and Sullivan and all those bardic luminaries of the Celtic Dawn. Or is that Twilight. A thousand years and more ago we had Home Rule and we had independent forms of legal thought and a magnificent oral tradition of storytelling poetry and poesy. And then we became bogmen. Coarse, callow, ignorant bogmen. Well it was O’Grady predicted back in the 19th century that without a revival of our qua your national spirit any ‘independent’ ‘Irish Republic’ would become a sordid affair peopled with corrupt politicians and stroke artists and conniving peasants. We see now how his words rang true. Poets are essential to any civilised society. They narrate our general identity. They create the We. From their third I.

    • kynos says:

      Yes I thought it was an intriguing and readable piece too.

    • klyarification says:

      Talking about Deaglán’s piece not me own CRaP

    • minXie says:

      @6 – I take issue with those first two sentences for reasons which may become clear when I suggest how pleasant a reflection it is to consider a peasant who walks silently in integrity and which is surely amplified when the consideration is poised in contrast with, for example, the loud scrawlings of a haughty poet/scholar (of the Bourgeoisie?) tripping over and revelling in his own vanity and prolificacy, which is indeed perverse. My point being that integrity is not in any way the preserve of the poet or the scholar for there are and have been as many peasants of no integrity as likewise there have been poets and scholars and surely the measure of a society’s refinement is a measure of the integrity of its people

      Schubert’s grandfather was a Moravian peasant, you know…

    • Kynos says:

      I did say “Most”.

    • Okay, folks, I’m off on holidays and this discussion is now closed. It’s been very interesting and informative. My thanks to all who showed a genuine interest. I intend to be back blogging in a few weeks’ time and I hope you will all still be full of vituperation, anger and the occasional sharp insight. ‘Bye for now :-)

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