Inniskeen Road : July Evening
This sonnet is concerned with the poet/peasant complex and the loneliness and isolation of the poet in society. The background is a typical summers evening in the Inniskeen of Kavanagh's youth , where a local barn doubles as a village dance hall.
The octet of the sonnet sets forth two contrasting pictures which allow for it's subdivision into two quatrains. In the first, Kavanagh is a detached spectator, watching his peers on their way to the dance. In the opening statement there are two relevant points: a) That nobody seems to be cycling alone, suggesting an easy camaraderie and normal social practice, from which the poet is detached, the cause is "a dance in Billy Brennan's barn". The highlight of the Inniskeen calendar, a normal and informal event. In lines 3 and 4 Kavanagh identifies not just a physical but an intellectual divide between Kavanagh and the people of Inniskeen "the half talk code of mysteries, and the wink and elbow language of delight " is suggestive of a language and a means of interaction that is foreign to the poet.
In the second quatrain, the background scene remains the same, the time has moved on to 8:30 and the road is quiet. Only Kavanagh remains. From this we learn, that he is not attending the dance, that he is alone with the inanimate backdrop -the road and the stones. The sestet of the poems offers Kavanaghs's explanation for the scenes painted in the openings eight lines. The commonly held belief is that poets choose to be aloof from society, they prefer to be commentators not participators, that poetry is meant to be composed as Wordsworth suggested, in solitude. Kavanagh contradicts this conception, claiming that poets hate the loneliness and isolation that they undergo - "I have what every poet hates in spite of all the solemn talk of contemplation.". He alludes to the story of Alexander Selkirk - the real life model for Robinson Crusoe. The analogy highlights the sense of isolation experienced by the poet, the worthlessness of "being King and government and nation". Kavanagh's Inniskeen, does not include its people, it is merely a physical backdrop, he cannot fit into its society. Kavanagh is intellectually and socially removed, his frustration is evident in the double 'entendre' of the final line "I am king of banks and stones and every blooming thing.". Kavanagh is unhappy with his inability to become part of Inniskeen society. He sees himself as being both physically and intellectually isolated, reduced to the role of observer, enduring a solitude comparable to that experienced by Selkirk on the island of San Fernandez. The poet/peasant complex is central to this poem as Kavanagh is unable to parallel what he finds to be paradoxical roles. In Inniskeen society, appreciation is reserved for the peasant, suspicion for the poet who is, in a sense, banished and forced to exist on the periphery.
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