The Object Lessons of Heaney, Carson, Muldoon and Boland

in Critical Survey
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‘No ideas but in things.’ One impact of this Emersonian clarion-call by William Carlos Williams early in the twentieth century was the demand for a more local version of modernism in poetry, one which resisted the presumed universalising vagaries of more classicallyinformed strivers after the ‘new’ like Eliot and Pound. In the more intimately identifiable context of such ‘ideas’, ‘so much’was notoriously taken to ‘depend’ upon practical and found objects in the everyday world, without an irritable reaching after cultural, historical or mythic correlatives which would serve to describe, in Eliot’s phrase, ‘the mind of Europe’.