KAVANAGH, Patrick. Collected Pruse. [PROOF COPY] CRITICISM AND GAIETY IN PLENTY WITH VERY INTERESTING ACCOUNT OF KAVANAGH’S VISIT TO KILKENNY IN 1958
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London: Macgibbon, 1967. First edition. Octavo. pp. 287, . Grey-blue printed wrappers in very good frayed dust jacket. Rare proof copy with corrections and compliment slip from publishers. Loosely inserted is an A4 typed sheet by Frank McEvoy detailing Patrick Kavanagh’s visit to the Kilkenny Arts Society on 4th March, 1958, Full of crudeness and rudeness. A very good copy. The word ‘Pruse’ was coined by Kavanagh. He uses it to describe the contents of this work. Monaghan oozes through the pages. There are aphorisms, criticism and gaiety in plenty. Wirh a riveting unpublished account of Kavanagh’s visit (4th March, 1958) where he told Lady Bellew to shut up; declared he hates Prods and recollects meeting Ezra Pound in Washington “the biggest madhouse in the world, fifteen thousand buck niggers going along the corridors showing their p...... “
“In the Tec he was introduced to Dr. Walsh who brought him into his room. At this point he seemed to be keyed up to a certain pitch of nervous excitement. How many more minutes would he give them? How many were in the audience? Were there fifty people there? Eventually he could not be held back another minute and strode into the lecture room. He gave a vague gesture with his hand to the sharp burst of applause that greeted him. J.D. introduced him and when veering to the too-eulogistic was brought back to earth with Kavanagh’s snort. Kavanagh produced his notes and laid them gently on the table and heaved back a step. He took a leather case from an inside pocket and substituted his glasses for another pair held together with elastoplast. He opened with an eloquent phrase: “Parnassus is not a place; it is a point of view”, and then went on to decry the provincial scene, the awfulness of the community we lived in - he knew, he had been brought up in a similar one- and Kilkenny is a terrible place. He said this with a kind of groan, as though it physically pained him. Looking vaguely over the small audience, or perhaps at the blank wall, he would repeat “This is a terrible place. He spoke of the drama festival in Dublin, denouncing O’Casey as a charlatan or at any rather a non-poet because he upheld the Protestant view. Joyce he admired, and even praised Yeats. Then like a recurring theme in a rondo, he would groan, “This is a terrible place. This is terrible.” It was at this point that Lady Bellew interjected “I don’t know who showed you the town that you got such an impression.” “Don’t interrupt me”, he said. “It’s bad manners to interrupt the lecturer.”
Then ironing the creases out of his foolscap sheets, he said he would give us the privilege of hearing four poems written last autumn, after his recreation. In utter stillness we listened to the four poems and the intensity of the speaker was transmitted to us, his unfathomable emotions and beliefs, his grasping for truth. We were given a glimpse of a vision, beyond our power to describe or understand, but illuminated with the light of heaven striking on Parnassus. Back in the Metropole he immediately demanded a drink, and when a small Jameson was set before him said that wasn’t even a drink. He was quickly brought another. He had visited Ezra Pound in Washington last October, in the biggest mad house in the world, fifteen thousand ... going along the corridors showing their ... But Pound’s poetry was too tools obscure. Eliot’s? He was all right, he contributed £25 to Kavanagh’s law appeal. The only poet worth talking about was George Barker.
He looked across at the stately looking woman sitting on the opposite side of the fireplace. “What’s your name? he demanded. “Bellew”. “Mrs Bellew?” “Yes”. Somebody whispered “Lady Bellew”. “Are you a Prod?” “I am”. “I hate Prods”, he let his head fall sideways in a stupor and put out his tongue. The company who had come to be entertained drifted away one by one. We said S. had recently become a widow - she indicated her black garments - and was looking for another husband. He held back his head and surveyed her. “She is too fuckin’ auld for me” he croaked. Though later on he announced he was going to bed and looking at the two portly dames said in an off-hand tone, “Stay around because I might ride one of yous afterwards”. The women exchanged a look of scandalised happiness.”
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