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Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 16:18 GMT
The poet behind Russell Crowe's rage
Russell Crowe
The Hollywood star has been inspired by Kavanagh
Russell Crowe recited one of his poems - Sanctity - at the Bafta awards, and flew into a rage when it was axed from television broadcast. But, asks BBC News Online's Cathy Grieve, who was Patrick Kavanagh?

Patrick Kavanagh is one of the finest but lesser-known poets to come out of Ireland in the last century. Born in 1904, he was the eldest son in a family of 10. His father, James, was a cobbler turned farmer and Kavanagh grew up on the farm in Inniskeen, County Monaghan.

He left school at 14 but continued to educate himself and wrote poetry in his spare time.

To be a poet and not know the trade,
To be a lover and repel all women;
Twin ironies by which great saints are made,
The agonising pincer-jaws of heaven.

Sanctity, by Patrick Kavanagh
Among the "stony grey soil" of Monaghan, Kavanagh developed something of a love-hate relationship with the land from which he came - a land he toiled in his early years and where so much of his poetry had its inspiration.

His work is best known for unmasking the truth of life behind the ordinary lives of country folk.

His poetry possesses an earthiness in texture and a simplistic view of ordinariness which sparkles throughout his verse.

Poems like Inniskeen Road - A July Evening and A Christmas Childhood are both fine examples of this. His ability to bring mundane events to life and create magical moments was not always appreciated at the time of publication.

    A Christmas Childhood

    My father played the melodion
    Outside at our gate
    There were stars in the morning east
    And they danced to his music

    Outside in the cowhouse my mother
    Made the music of milking
    The light of her stable-lamp was a star
    And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle

Kavanagh increasingly felt isolated from the literary world and finally decided to move to Dublin in the late 1930s.

One job to another

He was a somewhat dishevelled, eccentric character who sought a lucrative patron, but to no avail, struggling instead through numerous jobs while trying to make a living from his writings.

Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin
The poet left the countryside to live in Dublin
A resilient man, he envied other writers who attained financial success and whom he felt were less talented.

Kavanagh married Katherine Moloney and spent the rest of his life in Dublin, despite having inherited the family farm after his mother's death.

He wrote numerous collections of poetry and several novels, including his highly acclaimed autobiographical work The Green Fool.

In 1957 Kavanagh wrote his companion poems, Canal Bank Walk and Lines written on a Seat on the Grand Canal Dublin about the soothing effects of water.


Canals had great significance and he wished to be remembered by them.

James Joyce
James Joyce: A literary contemporary of Kavanagh
"O commemorate me where there is water, canal water preferably."

In this he has had his wish and a statue of Kavanagh rests on Dublin's Grand Canal.

Kavanagh, who died in 1967 and is buried in his native Inniskeen, would not have expected to be remembered for the fuss he caused at a Bafta awards ceremony.

How he would have re-acted to one of the world's best known actors quoting him, we will never know - but I would guess he would think - recognition, finally.

See also:

05 Mar 02 | Film
Crowe's poem snubbed again
04 Mar 02 | Showbiz
Crowe sorry over Bafta outburst
28 Feb 02 | Film
Crowe defends Bafta outburst
24 Feb 02 | Film
Crowe's upward flight
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