“My landscape is grey rain
Aslant on bent seas”
(“Renewal By Her Element”, Denis Devlin)
Spending time thinking about this blog’s title proved much easier than thinking about its content.
In the end, I settled for the above quote from Irish poet Denis Devlin‘s “Renewal By Her Element”.
Its image of a rain-pelted, stormy sea seemed apt for a site that will deal mainly with the poetry of Ireland and Galicia. The sea, and unfortunately the rain, being significant parts of their respective psyches.
In an essay that dealt with this poem, John Montague stated that:
“An Irishman may travel, but the memory of his maternal landscape persists”
For myself at least, this reads true. With each river, valley or bay I encountered in Galicia I, (consciously or unconsciously), searched for an equivalent from here. And despite doing it less as time passed, that initial impulse never fully left me.
In the piece Montague goes on to point out that though Devlin’s poem “owes more to modern French love poetry” than anything in the English or Irish tradition, its end (the quote at the beginning of this entry) comes back to these “very Irish images”.
This idea of using an arguably ‘less traditional’ culture as a route for getting insight into Ireland and its own culture, complements what this blog hopes to achieve.
Devlin, like many Irishmen and women before and after him, lived a life of exile. His work can reflect the importance of looking back on what he left behind, as much as looking beyond the horizons usually seen by those writing on this island.
I don’t claim to offer anything groundbreaking here, beyond merely adding a pair of eyes to an increasing awareness on the part of Irish writers, at home or in their own exile, of lesser-explored literary horizons.
So with that landscape of “grey rain/ Aslant on bent seas” being
as much home as it is away, I suppose I can stop thinking about the title for now, and just start to watch the rain fall.