Original Research

Richard Murphy: Autobiography and the Connemara landscape

Elsa Meihuizen
Literator | Vol 36, No 2 | a1183 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v36i2.1183 | © 2015 Elsa Meihuizen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 February 2015 | Published: 28 August 2015

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Elsa Meihuizen, Centre for Academic and Professional Language Practice, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


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Abstract

It could be argued that an important feature of Richard Murphy’s work, and of his identity as a poet is the relationship between the creative self and a particular place, where ‘place’ should be understood as referring not just to physical qualities of the natural environment, but in a broader sense to denote an environment in which everything is interrelated and connected, and in which there is no sharp division between the natural and the human. The landscape providing inspiration for Murphy’s poetic imagination is the landscapes and seascapes of Connemara in north-west Ireland. In 1959 he settled in this environment which was to be his base for the next 20 years and from this period and this location emanated the bulk of his poetic oeuvre. For Murphy committing to a life of writing poetry necessarily means being in the Connemara landscape. Returning to this environment in adulthood represents a quest for recovering childhood feelings, of belonging and love, as connected to particular places. Murphy’s Connemara poems could be read as an account of this process of re-placement, as a type of autobiographical text in which the artist creates a ‘double portrait’: in writing about the landscape he also writes about himself, creating a place-portrait which is, at the same time, a self-portrait.

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