It’s April and the familiar “April showers bring May flowers” phrase may be floating around your environment. If the rain has you longing for a good read, curl up with a tome of authentic Irish poetry. Here are a few Irish poets—which you may or may not know well—to inspire your reading.
William Butler Yeats
Chances are you’ve crossed paths with Yeats in a lit class in either high school or college. As a Nobel Prize winner, the Dublin born poet is one of the most well-known Irish writers of any era. What’s more, his subject matter frequently included Irish influences, settings, or symbolism. If you want to dig in to his work, start with a crowd favorite such as “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” and then move to the politically fueled “Easter, 1916.”
Born in Dublin, Boland is the author of numerous collections of poetry as well as essays and books. As one of the first Irish female poets—and chiefly still one of the most widely known and impactful—she puts words to womanhood and also explores Irish history with fresh eyes. What’s more, she has shared her love of writing by instilling it in others as a professor. While she now lives in California, the influence of the Emerald Isle can be seen in a number of Boland’s works. Check out her poetry collections, which include A Poet’s Dublin, A Woman Without a Country, and In Her Own Image.
Revered as one of the leading poets not only in Ireland but also around the world, Heaney is likely a name you are familiar with as well. An Oxford and Harvard professor as well as a Nobel Prize and T.S. Eliot Prize winner, Heaney was not only a brilliantly skilled and articulate poet but is noted to have been popular with the general public as well. Many of his works were influenced by the past, including his youth in County Derry, Ireland. Start your reading with Selected Poems 1966-1987, and be sure to pick up his modern translation of Beowulf, released in 2000.
Do you have a favorite Irish poet or poem? Share your story with us in the comments.