Course overview

This course will examine Ireland’s unique contribution to twentieth century poetry in English. We will explore the work of two Nobel Prize winners, W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, plus the work of Patrick Kavanagh, Louis MacNeice and Michael Longley. Additionally, we will refer in passing to poems by numerous other poets such as Paul Muldoon and Derek Mahon. We will analyse those elements which have contributed to Ireland’s distinctive contribution to world literature in the last 100 years, and discuss the relationship between a politically troubled history and creativity. There will be ample opportunities for discussion in what will be lively sessions.

Course description

The course will begin with the poems of Yeats’, which belong to the Celtic Twilight, before we consider his poems relating to the struggle for Irish Independence, before concluding with his late poems and their relationship with Modernism. A poet very different from Yeats, but in his own way remarkable is Patrick Kavanagh, and our discussions will focus on his poem, The Great Hunger, and his lyrical verse, both of which are influences on Heaney, particularly his poems of pilgrimage.

We will then consider Seamus Heaney, and trace his interactions with the Troubles and his evolution of a mature style, which made him one of the most remarkable global poets of the century. Alongside Heaney, we will analyse the contribution of his contemporaries Michael Longley, Derek Mahon and Paul Muldoon, who has become the doyen of high Modernism.

Finally we will explore the work of Louis MacNeice and his poetic roots in Northern Ireland, noting his lyrical excellence as a technician of soundscapes within poetry, and his qualities of acute observation of landscape which influence both Longley & Mahon.

This will be a course which will open you up for the first time or again to the beauties of Irish poetry.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

Share this page:

Lady giving a thumbs up to her tablet as she watches a WEA member lecture
Image overlay triangle

Become a WEA member today

For just £15 per year, you can access many great benefits, including our award-winning weekly member lectures.

Need more information?

Need help? Complete our form and our friendly Support Services team will be back in touch.

Course contact
I am most interested in (tick all that apply)

How do we use the information we gather from you?
Please see our privacy policy.