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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.25 pp.161-178

Irish Catholicism in Poetries of Yeats and Heaney

Hong Sungsook


Republic of Ireland is called a 'saint's country' since more than 90% ofpopulation believe in Catholicism. The Irish Catholicism had a great influence onthe Irish society and culture by offering the hierarchical order to Irish people's wayof life. And also, Catholicism had been a symbol of nationalism and played the roleto confirm a sense of national identity. It is also true that since Free State Ireland,Catholicism with the word 'Gaelic' has contributed to making the national identity or'racy Irish atmosphere'. However, the Irish Church of the 20th century was dedicatedneither to spirituality nor the intellectual enhancement of the faith, but to materialand social advantage.
At the first stage of his writing, Yeats tries to consider Irish Catholicism asholy, combining it with mysticism of theosophy. And also he uses it to strengthennationalism. However, Catholicism of that time, unlike what Yeats thought, sticks tothe practical line, which makes Yeats criticize its materialistic ends. Meanwhile,talking about Heaney, although he accepts its values of contributing to thecommunal union and he himself is a serious devotee to pilgrimage going to LoughDerg or Station Ireland. Heaney feels at ease because of Catholic's fanaticism andoppression imposed on individuals.
The final conclusion of this paper is that although these two poets, Yeats andHeaney, accept that Irish Catholicism has contributed to inspiration of the nationalpatriotism and promoted the modernization of independent Ireland, they criticizesthat Irish Catholicism is lacking its artistic spirituality and that it is a trap fromwhich artists are to escape.


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