ACIS Logo In Defiance of Human Frontiers: Ecocritical Approaches in Irish Poetry

Many recent writers question the necessity of specifically political meanings in regards to landscape and nature. They question the centrality of the Oedipal, the mythological, the national, and also question the idea that nature and culture are opposed because they believe the Anthropocene era has undervalued nature as a living organism within which, rather than against which, we must live. A view of nature and landscape that moves beyond historical and geographical borders has the real virtue of presenting a sound globally political foundation for future understanding. One is not denying history, nor is one taking sides as it may seem; instead one is trying to let nature record it differently. One is conscious of the landscape’s historical emblems, with all of the social and political implications, and yet sure that “nature should be viewed as something greater than man, and, particularly, something greater than the domain of human political conflicts‚” as Seán Lysaght writes of Robert Lloyd Praeger. Derek Mahon understands that eco-poetry is different from the poetry of nature: “we consumed landscape / in the days before ecology came around.” More ecologically minded poets look through the eyes of a naturalist, which of course means they are half scientist and half aesthetician; the history of the naturalist’s view of nature has been divided between the scientist (for example, Darwin) and the literary man (Thoreau). This paper will examine some examples.

Published on: April 2, 2020