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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Patrick Kavanagh wrote regular ‘Diary’ chapters for the Dublin literary periodical Envoy until it ceased publication in July 1951. He was the most likely candidate in his generation to succeed W. B. Yeats as far as unrivalled dominance of twentieth-century Irish poetry was concerned, and made repeated applications for the position by denying Yeats's greatness or his Irishness, or more usually, both. Kavanagh's ballad ‘If Ever You Go to Dublin Town’ uses ‘potentiality’ to suggest both scholarly fustian and squandered talent. He freed Irish poetry from the pieties of cultural nationalism and Yeatsian high-talk, but could not, except in a handful of poems, serve his own potentiality. It took posterity – in Ireland, famously represented by Paul Durcan and Seamus Heaney – to explore possibilities that this poet revealed but did not exploit.

Keywords: Patrick Kavanagh, Envoy, Irish poetry, Ireland, W. B. Yeats, potentiality, posterity, Paul Durcan, Seamus Heaney

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