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Saturday, 17 March 2007

St. Patrick's Day and Niagara Falls

Eyewear wishes you a happy St. Patrick's Day.

Reflecting on the Irish genius in language, it is striking to consider that the greatest poet of the 20th century is arguably Yeats, the finest prose writer Joyce, and most influential playwright, Beckett. Should that be controversial, you might say that, waiting in those wings are Shaw, Heaney, Banville, Friel, Kavanagh (pictured) and Muldoon.... or - well, the list is implausibly long, if not endless.

Ireland and the Irish diaspora continue to yield much - recent books of 2007 include Maurice Riordan's The Holy Land (Faber), Eavan Boland's Domestic Violence (Carcanet) and Ian Duhig's The Speed of Dark (Picador). Each of these is a poetry collection no reader of contemporary verse would want to be without.

In today's Guardian, Duhig's poem in memory of the great Irish-American poet, Michael Donaghy, is published (see below, also made available online).

As an Irish-Canadian (if such a hybrid is allowed) let me, as an aside, gently mourn the Guardian's recent decision to downgrade Niagara Falls in its giant poster of the "Wonders of the World" - both natural and man made. Despite the fact that Canada has more extraordinary examples of natural splendour than all of Europe combined, it remains blank on an otherwise busy map (America is given three or four wonders). Niagara Falls is just not there - but disappeared.

Households and schools across the UK will be enjoying the fun of putting stickers on the busy world, but Canada - as usual in the UK media - will be left barely-described, as a dull place not worth investigating - a few yards of snow.

Come to think of it, wasn't it another Irish genius, Wilde, who once noted that Niagara Falls was only a new bride's second biggest disappointment, on her honeymoon?


http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/poetry/story/0,,2035797,00.html
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