Northern Irish Poetry and the Russian Turn: Intertextuality by S. Schwerter

By S. Schwerter

Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin and Medbh McGuckian are the 3 so much influential poets from Northern eire who've composed poems with a hyperlink to the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Union. via their references to Russia the 3 poets in achieving a geographical and psychological detachment permitting them to flip a clean eye at the Northern Irish state of affairs.

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Extra resources for Northern Irish Poetry and the Russian Turn: Intertextuality in the Work of Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin and Medbh McGuckian

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158 In this sense, it could be argued that Mandelstam’s ethics inspired Heaney in his own reflections on the role of the poet in an oppressive system. In addition to Mandelstam’s writing, two memoirs composed by his wife are central to Heaney’s fascination with the Russian author. Nadezhda Mandelstam captures her husband’s tragic fate in Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned. In her autobiographical books, she gives a vivid account of the Stalinist era and the atrocious conditions under which the local population was forced to live.

In The Government of the Tongue, he maintains that in certain forms of society, authors are expected to take on a specific ideological standpoint. 218 Reminding us of religiosity and bigotry, the term ‘Bible-belt’ subversively hints at Northern Ireland. Thus, the poet implies that writers from the North are morally obliged to take sides. His unwillingness to act as a mouthpiece for his own community would thus be seen as ‘a let-down’ by Northern Irish Catholics. The voices mentioned in ‘Exposure’ read as the incarnation of Heaney’s conscience which is speaking to him.

Whereas Chekhov on the island of Sakhalin glances over the Pacific Ocean to the West, the speaker of ‘Sandstone Keepsake’, who reads as a reference to Heaney himself, looks over the Atlantic to the East. Thus, in the two poems printed on adjacent pages, the poets seem to dialogue with each other. In ‘Sandstone Keepsake’, Heaney highlights the parallel between himself and the Russian writer by pointing at his liberty to engage with incarceration, while being a free man. 87 This line functions as a reference to ‘Chekhov on Sakhalin’, where Heaney evokes Chekhov’s fortunate situation to be able to write about torture without suffering from it.

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