Biography of Patrick Kavanagh
Kavanagh was born on the 21st of October 1904, in the village of Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan, Ireland. His father was a shoemaker and had a small farm of land. At the age of thirteen Kavanagh became an apprentice shoemaker. He gave it up 15 months later, admitting that he didn't make one wearable pair of boots. For the next 20 years, Kavanagh would work on the family farm before moving to Dublin in 1939.
Kavanagh's writing resulted in the publication of some poems in a local newspaper in the early 1930's. In 1939, his brother Peter, who was a Dublin based teacher, urged him to move to the city to establish himself as a writer. The Dublin Literary Society saw Kavanagh as a country farmer and referred to him as "That Monaghan Boy".
Kavanagh spent the lean years of the war in Dublin, where his epic poem The Great Hunger was published in 1942, presenting the Irish farmer's grinding poverty and sexual inhibition. This found him in trouble with his publishers. In 1947, his first major collection A Soul for Sale , was published. These poems were the product of his Monaghan youth. After the war he published the novel Tarry Flynn (1948) which is a about a small time farmer who dreams of a different life as a writer and a poet. In the early 1950's, Kavanagh and his brother Peter, published a weekly newspaper called Kavanagh's Weekly , it failed because the editorial viewpoint was too narrow. In 1954, Kavanagh became embroiled in an infamous court case. He accused The Leader newspaper of slander. The newspaper decided to contest the case and hired John A. Costello, as their defense council. Kavanagh decided to prosecute the case himself and Costello destroyed him. The court case dragged on for over a year and Kavanagh's health began to fail. In 1955, he was diagnosed as having lung cancer and had a lung removed, Kavanagh survived and the event was a major turning point in his life and career. In 1958, he published Come Dancing with Kitty Stobling . In 1959, he was appointed to the faculty of English in UCD. His lectures were popular, but often irrelevant to the course. In the early 1960's, he visited Britain and USA. In 1965, he married Katherine Malony. He died in 1967 from an attack of bronchitis. Kavanagh's reputation as a poet is based on the lyrical quality of his work, his mastery of language and form and his ability to transform the ordinary into something of significance
Patrick Kavanagh died in Dublin on 30th November 1967, bringing to a close the life of one of Ireland's most controversial and colorful literary figures.
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Patrick Kavanagh Poems
On Raglan Road
On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue; I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way, And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.
In Memory Of My Mother
I do not think of you lying in the wet clay Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see You walking down a lane among the poplars On your way to the station, or happily
Inniskeen Road: July Evening
The bicycles go by in twos and threes - There's a dance in Billy Brennan's barn to-night, And there's the half-talk code of mysteries And the wink-and-elbow language of delight.
We have tested and tasted too much, lover- Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder. But here in the Advent-darkened room Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
I have lived in important places, times When great events were decided, who owned That half a rood of rock, a no-man's land Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
Stony Grey Soil
O stony grey soil of Monaghan The laugh from my love you thieved; You took the gay child of my passion And gave me your clod-conceived.
Canal Bank Walk
Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal Pouring redemption for me, that I do The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal, Grow with nature again as before I grew.
Memory of my Father
Every old man I see Reminds me of my father When he had fallen in love with death One time when sheaves were gathered.
And sometimes I am sorry when the grass Is growing over the stones in quiet hollows And the cocksfoot leans across the rutted cart-pass That I am not the voice of country fellows
They laughed at one I loved- The triangular hill that hung Under the Big Forth. They said That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges
On An Apple-Ripe September Morning
On an apple-ripe September morning Through the mist-chill fields I went With a pitch-fork on my shoulder Less for use than for devilment.
Upon a bank I sat, a child made seer Of one small primrose flowering in my mind. Better than wealth it is, I said, to find One small page of Truth's manuscript made clear.
My black hills have never seen the sun rising, Eternally they look north towards Armagh. Lot's wife would not be salt if she had been Incurious as my black hills that are happy
To the Man After the Harrow
Now leave the check-reins slack, The seed is flying far today - The seed like stars against the black Eternity of April clay.
In Memory Of My Mother
I do not think of you lying in the wet clay
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see
You walking down a lane among the poplars
On your way to the station, or happily
Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday -
You meet me and you say:
'Don't forget to see about the cattle - '
Among your earthiest words the angels stray.