Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Catherine Elick

Degree Award Date

Spring 1998


Modern Irish Poetry, Beauty


English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles


The goal of this paper is to establish that modern Irish poets, through diverse voices, express a similar conception of beauty reflective both of the past and the present. The culture and history of Ireland and the Irish conception of beauty are inseparably linked. While descriptions of beauty as immortal characterize the early Irish folklore upon which modern Irish poets draw heavily for inspiration, these modern poets commonly describe beauty as mortal, or at least as lasting yet changeable and corruptible. Through the use of typically Irish symbols of beauty, such as the physically attractive, royal young man or woman and the swan, symbols which once represented the immortality of beauty, modern Irish poets from Yeats to the present have couched their disillusionment with and cautious hope for present-day Ireland in traditional terms.

Although discussion of major poets such as Yeats and Heaney will comprise the bulk of the paper, mention of minor modern poets is important as well, since poetic skill and name recognition are less important to the subject of the paper than an aesthetic conception common to modern Irish poets in general.