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Nature inspired P.J. Kavanagh – but so did ghosts, dreams, grief and God

A review of New Selected Poems by P.J. Kavanagh, with a foreword by Derek Mahon. The poet who imagined heaven as ‘big rooms filled with laughing’

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

New Selected Poems P.J. Kavanagh, with a foreword by Derek Mahon

Carcanet, pp.159, £12.95, ISBN: 9781847772527

P.J. Kavanagh, if not dismissed or relegated, is often shall we say bracketed, as a ‘nature poet’. The truth is, he’s as much of a nature poet as William Cowper was: in other words a good deal more than ‘a man who woos a rural muse’. While Kavanagh is also mentioned as a successor to Louis MacNeice and Edward Thomas, and is known for his portraits and tips of the hat to many other poets, such as Robert Lowell, Ivor Gurney and Yeats, it is, in fact, Cowper whose echo I myself hear most clearly.

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