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Ecocriticism & Irish Poetry. A Preliminary Outline

Keywords: Nature , Ecocriticism , Picturesque , Oral , Ecofeminism

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Abstract:

The article offers a brief thumbnail sketch of how Irish poetry has situated “nature” inside its competing narrative forms. Beginning with Irish poetry’s earliest lyrics and concluding with some of Ireland’s most recent, and most experimental, writers, the goal of the piece is to introduce some rudimentary eco-critical theory as a means of better understanding how nature acts as a complex cultural and political semiotic, so often overlooked, in Irish literature. En route, the article examines and in part deconstructs those critical categories that have often divided Irish literature into two distinct ecological camps: the picturesque (read colonialist/tourist) and the oral (read native/indigenous). The article also considers the importance of ecofeminist theory and asks how critics might better read Ireland’s women poets as nature poets in their own right. In closing, the piece turns its attention to a number of recent poets, both men and women, who have exceeded the picturesque/oral divide and now require eco-alternative readings of nature as we enter the second decade of the 21st Century.

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