Inniskeen Road: July Evening

Author

Kavanagh, Patrick

Genre

Poetry

Overview

Patrick Kavanagh was born and buried in Inniskeen, Ireland, where he had planned to become a farmer until one of his early poems was published in The Irish Weekly Independent. Arriving near the end of the Irish literary renaissance, Kavanagh wrote about the peasant life he so intimately knew. His inspiration for "Inniskeen Road: July Evening" comes not only from his life in this community, but also from the alienation he felt in rural Inniskeen as a burgeoning poet and intellectual. The poem's narrator, also a poet, finds a similar alienation as he watches people having fun at Billy Brennan's barn dance. But although he is separate from this community, he sees himself as "king / Of banks and stones and every blooming thing." Why does Kavanagh relate the profession of a poet to that of a "king?" What separates a leader from those led and what is the cause and purpose of this separation?

Full Text*

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Source

Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, ed. Neil Astley ( Miramax Books, 2003).

Type

Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.

Themes

Citizenship and DemocracyDiversity and DifferenceExclusion and BelongingLeadership and Responsibility

Big Questions

What are our responsibilities as citizens? Who or what are we responsible for?Why, if at all, are we obligated to participate in our democracy?How do we learn to have dialogue across difference? What does it look like?Is difference a problem, an opportunity, a challenge or a gift?What do people gain from joining a group? What do they lose?What does it mean to be a stranger or an outsider? What does it feel like?What does it mean to be alone?How does a person become a leader?What do we expect from the people we lead? What do we expect from our own leaders?

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think about, "Oh, Alexander Selkirk knew the plight / Of being king and government and nation"?
  2. What does the innkeeper think about leadership and their leadership role in the community?
  3. How is the innkeeper an insider and an outsider?
  4. How you define leadership? Should leaders be insiders or outsiders?
  5. What differences in power exist between community members? What effects do these differences have?
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