A CALL FOR CONFRONTATION: THE WAR EXPERIENCES OF MICHAEL LONGLEY?S FATHER AND IRISH TROUBLES IN HIS POETRY

Abstract

Author(s): M羹min HAKKIO?LU

Michael Longley (1939- ), one of the distinguished representatives of Northern Irish poetry, makes reference to the war experiences of his father Major Richard Longley, a veteran of World War I, in some of his poems about the chaos in his country. The poet unveils the sectarian and political grounds stimulating the conflicts in Ulster through his father’s memories and draws some striking similarities between the two battlefields. In a sense, Richard Longley is the leading character of these poems and the guide of his son in Belfast, the city besieged by violence. The poet, in these poems, neither shares the identities of murderers and victims nor informs about the sectarian or political milieus they belong to- not that he considers it significant. In his poetic world, violence does not segregate the young and the old; it may target anybody. The people are deprived of a place where they can feel themselves safe. The murderers are so flagrant that they can irrupt into homes and invade people’s privacy. The victims as well as the killers in Northern Ireland are outcome of the same society. The similarities Longley draws between his father’s war experiences and the conflicts in Ulster centre around a particular point: Violence is a universal problem which disregards place and time, and regenerates itself on every occasion. This is the reality the poet wants to confront his reader with.

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