By Andrew J. Auge
A Chastened Communion strains a brand new direction in the course of the well-traversed box of contemporary Irish poetry by way of revealing how severe engagement with Catholicism shapes the trajectory of the poetic careers of Austin Clarke, Patrick Kavanagh, John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan, and Paula Meehan.
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Extra info for A Chastened Communion: Modern Irish Poetry and Catholicism
But it is always complemented by the poets’ reliance upon more culturally resonant Catholic matter. This will become increasingly rare as Catholicism recedes ever more rapidly to the margins of Irish social and cultural life. The poetry generated in that post-Catholic era will not register with the same urgency the threatening psychic and cultural potency of Irish Catholicism. As a consequence, while poets may still occasionally employ Catholic images and themes, they will not feel as compelled to work through this Catholic material.
Perhaps even more pertinent for understanding of the impact of confession upon Clarke’s poetry are Foucault’s insights concerning the discursive structure of the practice of confession. 18 On the one hand, the practice of confession demands that the individual give voice to sexual desire, articulate the most minute arousals of the flesh. Yet even while confession compels speech about sexuality, it imposes stringent restrictions upon the circumstances in which such 24 | A C h a st en ed Commu n ion speech is allowed.
K. ”41 The establishment of the “free and neutral space” that, according to Taylor, characterizes modern secularity was achieved incrementally in Ireland, through a prolonged siege leveled by artistic and intellectual elites against the cultural and political authority of the Catholic Church. The barricade against modern culture that the Church hierarchy erected in the 1920s through censorship laws and hectoring encyclicals was breached early and often, but not without a price being exacted on the abettors of such intrusions.