Derek Mahon's Seascapes Mediated through Greece: Antiquity in Modernity, Nature in Abstraction.
MetadataShow full item record
The article investigates various approaches to seascape in selected poems of the contemporary Irish poet, Derek Mahon, set against the background of references to Michael Longley, Seamus Heaney or Odysseus Elytis. The sea provides a perspective that cannot be overestimated in trying to get an insight into the communication and the clash between the culture of the South and the North. The two nations have often glimpsed at their reflection in the mirror of the surrounding seas, their history and mentality determined by their geographical position and largely insular experience. Elements such as the isolation from the mainland; the perception of the sea as a personification of the force ruling over life and death, as a threat and a promise; or the focus on some characteristic natural phenomena such as light or surface dominate the seascape imagery both in Greek and Irish literature. The sea often constitutes a border of antagonistic and complementary worlds: dream and reality, light and darkness, male and female, the real world and the underworld – and the vantage point of the poet changes accordingly. Some poems under discussion also explore a series of myths linked with the sea, the best known of which, the Odyssey, has remained a frame of reference for numerous contemporary Greek and Irish poets. Elytis's Cyclades or Longley's Mayo provide us with examples of 'private homelands'. As Longley once observed, “his part of Mayo” reminds him of Ithaca (sandy and remote) and of Greece in general: “I’ve often thought that that part of Ireland . . . looks like Greece. Or Greece looks like a dust-bowl version of Ireland,” which triggers further deliberations on seascape as the common ground for the two countries. Just as Elytis's Cyclades or Longley's Mayo, Mahon’s Cyclades provide us with examples of 'private homelands'. The focus of this article is Derek Mahon’s seascapes: purely Greek (‘Aphrodite’s Pool’), Irish seen through the prism of the Greek ones (‘Achill’) and purely Irish (‘Recalling Aran’). The level of abstraction in the last category is compared with Odysseus Elytis’s imagery of the Cyclades, while the first poem demystifies a practice which I termed as ‘myth trading’, one of consumerist tourism techniques.
- Artykuły naukowe 
The following license files are associated with this item: