THE GREAT HUNGER BY Patrick Kavanagh

extract from Patrick Kavanagh’s long poem THE GREAT HUNGER

O he loved his mother

Above all others

O he loved his ploughs

And he loved his cows

And his happiest dream

Was to clean his arse

With perennial grass

On the back of some summer stream:

To smoke his pipe

In a sheltered gripe

In the middle of July.

His face in a mist

His two stones in his fist

And an impotent worm on his thigh

But his passion became a plague

For he grew feeble bringing the vague

Women of his mind to lust-nearness,

Once a week at least flesh must make an


So Maguire got tired

Of the no-target gun fired

And returned to his headland of carrots and cabbage

To the fields once again

Where eunuchs can be men

And life is more lousy than savage.

The Great Hunger isn’t about the Famine.  It’s about  the hunger for, love, food, land, life…everything. But mostly it’s about the hunger for sex…  

2 thoughts on “THE GREAT HUNGER BY Patrick Kavanagh

  1. Yes, he has, John. A brilliant poem when read in its entirety. It was down to John Betjeman that it got published initially. He said it was one of the finest poems he had ever read and championed its publication. It was never officially banned in Ireland, though the police went round removing it from bookshops, and the church denounced it from the pulpit.


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