Patrick Kavanagh, the Bard of Sexual Frustration and Bad Faith

Psychologically very interesting portrayal of narcissistic superiority and consequent denial of needs.

The Victorian Sage

As it is St. Patrick’s Day, it is opportune to look back on one of the greatest Irish poetic works of the 20th century, Patrick Kavanagh’s “The Great Hunger“, a longish poem taking up 31 pages in the 2018 Penguin Modern mini-book The Great Hunger. To an Irish person the phrase the great hunger brings to mind the famine of the 1840s, in Irish an Gorta Mór, literally the great hunger. Yet, though Kavanagh’s title clearly evokes this meaning, that is not what the poem is about at all.

The hunger for Kavanagh is sexual. It is the frustration of the rural Irish bachelor, living and working on the land:

Which of these men
Loved the light and the queen
Too long virgin? Yesterday was summer. Who was it promised marriage to himself
Before apples were hung from the ceilings for Hallowe’en?
We will wait…

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By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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