The Poetry Of Derek Mahon Essay

The poet Derek Mahon read English, French and Philosophy as an undergraduate at Trinity College Dublin between 1960 and 1965. He was not a conscientious student. His time at the college was interrupted due to academic ill-discipline, with periods spent away in London and Paris, which stretched 'a typical four-year course to five' (Ennis 2014, 46, 56, 63). As he has admitted of his years at university: 'Work? I hardly did a hand's turn' (Mahon 2012, 238). Yet Mahon might be viewed as a Trinity writer in ways that extend beyond his studies (or lack thereof) at the college. He found there an environment that nourished his literary talents and memories of undergraduate life have more recently offered him an emotional anchor to return to amid a peripatetic literary career.

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Derek Mahon Poetry Sample - Poetry Essay Examples

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This change in approach, while pleasing some commentators, drew considerable criticism from others who had previously applauded Mahon's formal control and political reticence. However, his return to a lyric style somewhat closer to his earlier work, in the collections Harbour Lights (2005), Life on Earth (2008), and An Autumn Wind (2010), held onto these longer poems' personal frankness and outspokenness about a range of modernity's discontents, including a growing concern for the ecological. These more recent poems do so in a voice that is now not so much loose as light, playfully open to the moment when 'the still living whole' might just 'heal the heart and cure the soul' ('New Space'). There is also something winningly spritely about the improvised observations and recollections of Mahon's recent departure into a more self-reflexive prose style in Selected Prose (2012) and Red Sails (2014). 'We're not prisoners but visitors in our time' (Mahon 2014, 95), he muses as through vignettes of memoir or travel writing these essays open up to the possibility that the world is as much an opportunity as an imposition.

by Mark William Butler Photos by Tom Mahon

Derek Mahon, Twelve Poems (Festival Publications: Queen's University of Belfast, 1967) (TCD OLS-B-13-240no.1) by permission of the Board of Trinity College Dublin

This early pamphlet preceded Mahon's first full collection. Other poets published in the same series included Michael Longley, Seamus Heaney, and Philip Hobsbaum, an indication of the flowering of poetic talent in Belfast at this time.

Derek mahon poetry essay
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The poet Derek Mahon read English, French and Philosophy as an undergraduate at Trinity College Dublin between 1960 and 1965. He was not a conscientious student. His time at the college was interrupted due to academic ill-discipline, with periods spent away in London and Paris, which stretched 'a typical four-year course to five' (Ennis 2014, 46, 56, 63). As he has admitted of his years at university: 'Work? I hardly did a hand's turn' (Mahon 2012, 238). Yet Mahon might be viewed as a Trinity writer in ways that extend beyond his studies (or lack thereof) at the college. He found there an environment that nourished his literary talents and memories of undergraduate life have more recently offered him an emotional anchor to return to amid a peripatetic literary career.

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Derek Mahon - Trinity Writers : Trinity College Dublin