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The Poetry of Derek Mahon Essay

Derek Mahon is a poet of outstanding skill and exceptional ability. I enormously enjoy Mahon because of this. He takes on piles of different personnae as a poet. It is clear to see that people and places are a prevailing feature of his poems. The six of his poems I have studied for my Leaving Certificate are mainly based around a person or a place . Mahon writes about a broad array of themes in a variety of tones.In his poems his language is used sparingly but effectively. Person – I found the poetry of Derek Mahon to be unique and I look up to his power to imagine how other people think and feel.Mahon evokes various human personalities as he tries to make us understand his idea of how a character feels.Captain Oates, of the poem Antarctica, sacrifices his life to save the life of the other members of his expiditon team.

He merely announces , “I am just going outside and may be some time” He is therefore becoming a hero for putting the welfare of others before him . -A person who Mahon also writes about is Bruce Ismay who is the complete oppisite of Oates.After the Titanic is a telling of his life and feelings after the sinking of his pride and glory The Titanic when he cowardly put his life before others by getting off the sinking ship. He is only a shadow of his former self by his survival of the tragic sinking ” I sank as far that night as any hero”. Mahon also makes us sympathise with him because he is imprisoned and left almost entirely isolated “lonely house behind the sea”.

Mahon uses the sea itself as a vicious reminder, washing up “broken toys and hatboxes”. Ismay is made out the have a certain selfishness to himself . He wants people to feel sorry for him and for his own “poor soul”. —¬Mahon does not only write poems about people who are in the public eye , he also writes very personal poetry which is presented in Grandfather. Mahon look upto his grandfather and has great respect for him, a dedicated craftsman in Harland & Wolff who cannot let go of his work even when he is “Wounded”. He is so passionate for his work that Mahon tells us “Mornings he is up at six with a block of wood

Place _Mahon is truely outstanding in his description of places. His descriptive writing is idealised in the rural coastal beauty spot in Day Trip To Donegal “the nearby hills were a deeper green than anywhere in the world” Mahon in this poem also presents the reader with the detailed image of fish caught by the urban fisherman . The fish are depicted brilliantly, seen “flopping about the deck in attitudes of agony and heartbreak.” -_Mahon in the poem As It Should Be takes on the persona of a spiteful and sinister violent fanatic.Mahon makes him out to be determined and unshakeable . The vicious world of the fanatic is one in which there is a definite sense of right and wrong.

He describes the rough landscape in the West of Ireland ” Through bog, moor land, rock, to the starlit west” he uses this as the violent fanatic hunts for a “mad bastard” through this picturesque landscape _Futhermore if I havent dicussed his description of places enough is when he sets a vibrant tone in his poem Kinsale. In Mahons poem Kinsale , he makes it out to be a jubilant and colourful place, perceived as an ideal town for beautiful views of the bay. 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 an image of hope and the ‘future forbidden to no-one’ while the rain is the constant reminder of a violence filled history.


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