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Department of English

University of Mississippi

Out of What Began: A History of Irish Poetry in English


by Gregory A. Schirmer
The first book of its kind, Out of What Began traces the development of a distinctive tradition of Irish poetry over the course of three centuries. Beginning with Jonathan Swift in the early eighteenth century and concluding with such contemporary poets as Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland, Gregory A. Schirmer looks at the work of nearly a hundred poets. Considering the evolving political and social environments in which they lived and wrote, Schirmer shows how Irish poetry and culture have come to be shaped by the struggle to define Irish identity.
Schirmer includes a large number of accomplished poets who have been unjustly neglected in standard accounts of Irish literature; many of these writers are women, whose work has been kept in the shadows cast by that of well-known male poets. He also emphasizes the importance of political poetry in a country that continues to be torn by sectarian violence. With its rich selection of poetic voices, Out of What Began reveals the political, social, and religious diversity of Irish culture.