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“Stony Grey Soil” by Patrick Kavanagh “Stony grey soil of Monaghan The laugh from my love you thieved; You took the gay child of my passion And gave me your clod conceived” Patrick Kavanagh was born on a small farm in County Monaghan, Ireland in 1906 and was educated at the local National School. He was born into a lower class family and worked on the family farm until the age of thirty-three, when he moved to Dublin. He is a poet of renown and ranks as one of the greatest Irish Literary talents of all time. His poetry can be divided into two main sections – those with a Monaghan background, and those with a Dublin background. He is remembered mostly for his Monaghan poetry, which was raw and consisted of everyday, common experiences. It is the Monaghan poetry I love best and my favourite of these is “Stony Grey Soil”. In this poem Kavanagh appears, in my opinion, at his most bitter and natural self. His appearing hatred and resentment to Monaghan comes into clear view here as he, it would seem in parts, appears to rant and rave at how Monaghan has been the cause of his hard life and how it held him back. There is proof in this in such lines as: “You flung a ditch on my vision” And: “You burgled my bank of youth” The irony of the poem is how Kavanagh appears to accuse Monaghan for being the cause of such things, as to hold him back and practically ruin his life, but still appears to have affection for it. We see this when he speaks of the drumlins of his home County: “O can I still stroke the monster’s back Or write with unpoisoned pen.” It appears that Kavanagh does have affection for the County he believes held him back. But at the end of the poem he almost seems to accept it as fate: “Mullinahinsha, Drummer
il, Black Shanco- Wherever I turn I see In the stony grey soil of Monaghan Dead loves that were born for me.” In 1939, Kavanagh left for Dublin where he continued to write poetry, but none, in my opinion, that matched the natural language, depth, and feeling as “Stony Grey Soil”, or “Advent” and “Inniskeen Road: July Evening”, which were other Monaghan poems. “Stony Grey Soil” has to be read to be believed and I hope, if you read it, you enjoy it as much as I do.