Patrick Kavanagh – Canal Bank Walk – Personal Spin on Modern Ireland (Opinion Piece)


Everyone makes mistakes in their lives, whether it be big or small. Some learn from those mistakes, others repeat them, then learn from them. Some though, never learn. That can’t be said about the inspiring poet, Patrick Kavanagh. After reading a number of his poems, I felt most affected by “Canal Bank Walk”. I felt curious, yet in awe of the experience Kavanagh wrote about. This poem of his was a personal invitation into a momentous occasion of his, his reborn experience. Deeply indulged with the theme of religion, the poem revolves around religious meanings. “Pouring redemption for me, that I do the will of God”. He conveyed the message to me that he was reborn to do good, all in the name of God. In the sestet section of the poem, towards the ending, the poet wrote, “to pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech”.

Kavanagh wants to have the ability of being able to pray with comfort in an unconstrained manner. This is an understandable request to wish as modern day Ireland slowly furthers herself from the Catholic Church. With this though, he still feels like his “soul needs to be honoured” as maybe he feels entitled to God’s grace without actually practising what he preaches. Nevertheless, “Canal Bank Walk” provided me with questions, made me reflect on my own Catholic status, but most importantly, the poem carried substance with it, something that I really appreciate seeing in poetry because it tells me that the poet has really thought hard about what they are writing.

(Luke Mac an Bháird)