Religion and Irish Mythology in the Ballad of Father Gilligan

September 17, 2017 Religion

RELIGION AND IRISH MYTHOLOGY IN THE BALLAD OF FATHER GILLIGAN This poem takes a ballad form – a traditional form, usually sung, with regular, short stanzas that tell a story. It has a more overtly religious content than most of Yeats’s poems. As a protestant who turned to theosophy and mysticism, Yeats usually stays away from Catholic themes. Yeats also usually stays away from the Irish language, which he uses in this poem when he writes, “mavrone! ” which is the Irish, “Mo bhron,” a cry of grief.

Thus making ‘religion’ and ‘Irish mythology’ the main theme of the poem. RELIGION The poem not only speaks to the poverty of rural Ireland, but also to their extreme religiosity. The priest is horrified by the fact that he did not make it to the bedside of the sick man before he died because no one performed the rites of extreme unction, meaning in the Catholic tradition that the man did not die in a state of grace, and therefore cannot go to heaven. The divine intervention which caused this not to be the case is an affirmation of a loving, kind God.

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In the Bible it talks about how God knows if even one sparrow dies. This poem’s theme is the same as the idea that is in that quote. In this poem, Father Gilligan is worn out emotionally and physically. So when he tries to pray for the “poor man” who sent for him, he falls asleep. When he wakes up the next morning very early, he goes to the poor man’s house and finds that an angel in his own form had already been there. The angel helped the man die happy. Gilligan says this shows that God cares even for him and the poor man . IRISH MYTHOLOGY W. B.

Yeats, poet and playwright, was born in Dublin Ireland on 13th June 1865, but moved to Chis wick London in 1867 due to his father’s career as a lawyer and did not return to Ireland until 1881, where he studied at the Metropolitan School of Art, it was here that he met fellow poet George Russell who shared his interest in mysticism The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branch and the Historical Cycle.

There are also a number of extant mythological texts that do not fit into any of the cycles. Additionally, there are a small number of recorded folk tales that while not strictly mythological, feature personages from one or more of these nine cycles. Mythology operates as a theme in this collection in a number of ways. First and foremost it separates Yeats’ poetry from British writing. British writers drew on Roman and Greek mythology – the mythology, in fact, of other (albeit ancient) imperialists.

In choosing Irish mythology as his source of allusions and subjects, Yeats creates poetry distinct from that of Ireland’s long-time oppressors. This compliments Yeats’ desire to cultivate a poetic language suitable to Ireland alone. Moreover, Yeats’ use of Irish mythological subjects allows him to avoid the political climate of his own day. Yeats, a moderate compared to his beloved Maud Gonne, found his political beliefs to be a burden in his pursuit of love.

In treating legendary figures, Yeats avoids the problem of referencing the complicated political environment that so tormented him. Ireland’s long history is riddled with ancient mythology and folklore. Ireland’s ancient societies, the Druids and the Celtics, believed in the power of magic and many of these beliefs spread to modern day legends told again and again across the country. Stories of warriors with all the knowledge of the world, fairies playing pranks on farm owners and leprechauns hiding their gold at the end of a rainbow add to the mysterious appeal of Ireland.


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