Do You Like The Poetry Of Derek Mahon, And Why?

1180 words - 5 pages

I like the poetry of Derek Mahon. I like his poetry because of its visual impact, the sympathetic outlook it possesses, its interesting perspective on political and religious conflict as well as the empathy present with the lives of others in his poetry. The poems I have studied are GRANDFATHER, DAY TRIP TO DONEGAL, ACROSS THE TITANIC, KINSALE, RAITHLIN, ECCLESIASTES and A DISUSED SHED IN COUNTRY WEXFORD.

As said, one of the reasons I like the poetry of Derek Mahon is because of its visual impact. Imagery pervades Mahon’s poetry and each poem is detailed thoroughly, giving it a feeling of wholeness and completion. I like that each Mahon poem has a world of its own, complete to the ...view middle of the document...

Mahon prefers not to have to “feel called upon to understand and forgive” but also chooses the image of “a fierce zeal/ with locusts and wild honey.”

Mahon’s rejection of the “dark churches, the empty streets” in ECCLESIASTES introduces another element of his poetry I appreciate, his interesting perspective on political and religious conflict. Mahon rejected his roots and therefore the Planter culture because of its outlook and the self-possessed limits. Henceforth his poetry comments on his Northern Irish upbringing but this commentary is opinionated, criticizing the Protestant culture’s sectarianism and violent ways.
In this same poem Mahon is critical of the “shipyard silence, the tied-up swings” which represents the repressive regime where the Protestant culture associates itself “with rhetoric, promising nothing under the sun.” We see more of this in another poem, AS IT SHOULD BE, when Mahon represents the repressive Protestant culture in a barbaric manner. The state label a man they kill a “mad bastard” despite no evidence provided by Mahon in the poem to prove so. However the state need no proof for there is no “idle talk allowed”. The working class of this culture are slammed in another Mahon poem, RAITHLIN, as they created killers and bombs which “doze in the housing estate.”

In RAITHLIN Mahon emphasizes with the lives of others, another characteristic of his poetry I admire. Mahon engages with his characters and links them to himself. Mahon takes the time to link his poetry to himself, and therefore his poetry deems itself of merit for me.
Mahon mirrors Somhairle Bui who is “powerless on the mainland” as he watches the killings on the island of Raithlin. Mahon is powerless too, as he can only watch and comment on the fall of Northern Ireland into barbaric and violent ways. This sentiment is echoed in AFTER THE TITANIC. Ismay is isolated in his shame and depression and laments that “My poor soul screams out in the starlight” but no can hear his soul. Mahon too was not heard; as a child he was a loner. In PORTRUSH Mahon alludes to a time later in his life when he studied in Belfast, Dublin (Trinity College) and The Sorbonne in France when he speaks of a girl “light-footed, swinging a book-bag”. Finally, Mahon remembers his time as a poet in GRANDFATHER. Mahon likens himself to his...

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