Epic – Patrick Kavanagh Poem

Patrick Kavanagh was born in County Monaghan in 1904 and died in 1967. He was a colourful and combative character who wrote of the life of the rural people of Ireland. He had an ongoing dispute with the Irish poet and playwright, Brendan Behan. Kavanagh‘s most famous poem is Raglan Road which is now best known as a ballad in Ireland and beyond.
In Epic, the poet compares the arguments over private land in Ireland to the great events of Europe at that time. He seems to be suggesting that it’s all relative.
Epic
I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided, who owned
That half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffys shouting “Damn your soul”
And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
Step the plot defying blue cast-steel—
“Here is the march along these iron stones”
That was the year of the Munich bother. Which
Was more important? I inclined
To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin
Til Homer’s ghost came whispering to my mind
He said: I made the Iliad from such
A local row. Gods make their own importance.
Patrick Kavanagh

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