7 Classic Irish Poets of Landscape, Space and Place

The landscape has always been an important source of inspiration to poets. To celebrate the launch of Departures, we’re taking a look at some of Ireland’s native poets who have turned to the Irish landscape, steeped in ancient mythology, history and beauty for inspiration.

Check out the list below, and make sure to book your place for Departures here.

1. William Butler Yeats

Selected Poems (Penguin Classics)

From observing the swans at Coole to the presence of Ben Bulben in his self-written epitaph, Yeats’ poetry is a product of his landscape. Myth and landscape intertwine with his fantastical descriptions of landscape in lyrical style.

2. Patrick Kavanagh

Collected Poems (Penguin Modern Classics)

Connections to landscape manifest differently through Kavanagh’s work. His tone is resentful towards the ‘stony grey soil’ of Monaghan that robbed him of his youth, and yet The One, an ode to his homeplace Inniskeen, celebrates the beauty of the landscape.

3. Paula Meehan

The Man Who Was Marked by Winter (Gallery Books)

Meehan writes of intimate connections between the home and the landscape in Night Walk: Effernagh to Eslin and laments the mistreatment of nature in Death of a Field.

4. Eavan Boland

New Selected Poems (Carcanet Press)

Boland’s contemplations of landscape in the poems Cityscape and The Science of Cartography, use it as a backdrop for explorations of subjugation, personal relationships, language and their links to landscape.

5. Seamus Heaney

North (Faber & Faber) and Wintering Out (Faber & Faber)

Heaney’s native County Derry bogland is an integral part of his work. At times violent, with images of sacrifice in Bog Queen, at times bleak such as in Bogland, but always fully immersive. The reader is transported to the bog through all five senses, Heaney’s pen painting a complete picture of the landscape.

6. John Hewitt

In the Country from The Selected Poems (Blackstaff Press)

Hewitt peppers this collection with musings of Antrim’s Glens, romantic rememberings by loughs and observations of frost across the landscape, depicting the Northern Irish countryside.

7. John Montague

New Selected Poems (BloodAxe Books)

Montague explores love through the landscape in The Water’s Edge, farming life in Hill Field and memories of the land in The Road’s End. These poems form part of the tapestry of rural life, culture and the landscape.