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History with Derek Mahon Essay

History is a subject which preoccupies Mahon in many of his most important poems. I would choose particular poems because of his view towards our history and the past. His poetry presents history in a very negative light. Mahon sees the past as ‘deep-delving, dark, deliberate you would say’. In the poem Rathlin Mahon recalls historical violence on an island that is now a ‘sanctuary’ of peace and ‘through with history’. However this island in the past has witnessed ‘unspeakable violence’ with the massacre of the Rathlin women. He speaks of the ‘unnatural silence’ on the island gradually becoming ‘natural’ over the years through the island not being inhabited. Come the end of the poem Mahon is unsure ‘whether the future lies before us or behind’. Whether the violence is now behind us or is violence a continuing part of our future?

In Mahons Poem Kinsale there is a welcome and a long awaited moment of light and hope. The opening line of this poem was an optimistic thought from Mahon himself by saying, ‘the kind of rain we knew is a thing of the past’. The use of imagery in this poem is both vivid and warming. The image of ‘Yachts tinkling and dancing in the bay’ is a striking image as it is both beautiful and positively uplifting. The sun is a direct contrast to the rain. The sun is an image of hope and the ‘future forbidden to no-one’ while the rain is the constant reminder of a violence filled history. Although Mahon showed a slight sense of hope he is constantly overcome with those ‘who have come so far in darkness and in pain’.

In the poem A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford he uses the metaphor of mushrooms neglected in a shed to represent the victims of history. Please note! This is not an example of text written by our writers! Essaypedia.com is a database of essays that were collected at open web resources. You can use them at you own risk following the citation rules below.

But we recommend you to order a custom plagiarism-free essay written just for you from one of our writers. Place an order, add your paper details and enjoy the results! You can keep in touch with your writer, check the draft of your paper and send your order for revision for free. If you are hesitating to place an order – just ask for a quote! However the both extraordinary and unbelievable picture of mushrooms with feelings is not the only reason I would choose this poem.

Mahon uses the image of mushrooms neglected and forgotten to portray the misery and despair of thousands of victims who have died or survived the torturous past. ‘They are begging us you see’ to not forget them or forget what they have been through. Even the most insignificant people in history still deserve the recognition for their struggle. Small heroes from the past ‘In their wordless way’ are saying ‘Let not our naïve labours have gone in vain’. Mahon also deals greatly with the theme of isolation in this poem. The mushrooms are completely cut off from the world and their only form of light ‘Is a keyhole rusting gently after rain’.

The theme of isolation is also portrayed in the poem Grandfather. The ‘Grandfather’ in the poem has completely isolated himself from family and friends. ‘Discreetly up to no good’ he leaves the house in the morning and does not return until ‘After dark’. However nothing gets by this grandfather, ‘Nothing escapes him, he escapes us all’. ‘His shrewd eyes bolt the door’ to his life and he would rather not be bothered by anyone or anything. Another good choice of poem sticking with the theme of isolation would be After the Titanic. In this poem the persona of Bruce Ismay is overcome with guilt and as a result has completely isolated himself from the world. This poem is a favourite of mine also because Mahon writes in the persona of Ismay so brilliantly.

‘Include me in your lamentations’ was the final line of this poem and it sums up what Ismay was asking for. Like the mushrooms in A Disused shed in Co. Wexford he wanted to be remembered just like those who had died in the sinking of the titanic. He believed he ‘sank as far that night as any hero’ as his life and soul died that night. He watched the ship go ‘thundering down’ and with it went his ‘costly life’. He now ‘stays in bed’ and ‘will see no-one’. Mahon allows the reader to become Bruce Ismay if only for a minute. It is amazing reading this poem. The poem Antarctica is also a great example of Mahons ability of writing in a variety of personas.

In this poem Mahon writes in the persona of captain Lawrence Oates an explorer who gave his life for the lives of his fellow men. ‘I am just going outside and may be some time’ are said to be his final words. Mahons deals greatly with the theme of people in this poem. He shows that there is good in man kind and ‘At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime’.

Mahon shows that even in the worst instances of isolation imaginable, trudging utterly alone, to his death Oates action may seem entirely ‘ridiculous’ but in this case it is somewhat heroic. People in life may make some pretty foolish decisions but there might always be a good outcome. The poetry of Derek Mahon is poetry that one could not live without. With this collection of marvellous pieces his poetry will continue through generations and linger in peoples minds for some time, ‘In fact forever’.


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