Patrick Kavanagh 'Canal Bank Walk'

Essay by bpowerHigh School, 12th grade June 2004

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Canal Bank Walk

This poem was published in 1958, the collection was called "Come Dancing with Kitty Stobling". Kavanagh's convalescence throughout the summer of 1955 led him to an appreciation of Dublin's Grand Canal. His escape from lung cancer was a watershed in his life, the sense of wonderment and awe wished for in Advent is evident in this sonnet.

Kavanagh begins with a neologism "Leafy-with-Love" suggesting that the growth of plants and grasses on the banks of the Grand Canal, have been nurtured by God's love. The adjective, green, suggests that the water of the canal is the water of life, it is then given a sacramental significance as Kavanagh portrays it as baptismal water - "Pouring redemption for me". The poet has prostrated himself before God - "That I do the will of God, wallow in the habitual, the benal". Kavanagh no longer wants to apply adult logic to his life, the everyday and the ordinary will now, for him, reflect the glory of God.

In the second quatrain, Kavanagh uses three images of everyday life by the canal bank, but portrays them as representations of Gods word, "The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third party to the couple kissing on an old seat, and a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word". The Word represents the word of God and is equivalent to the phrase "Grow with nature again as before I grew". He begins the sestet of the poem, with an apostrophe to the world of nature "O unworn world enrapture me". Kavanagh wishes to immerse himself in the world of nature, he adopts a reverential tone and expresses his religious beliefs in a pantheistic fashion. He uses clothing imagery to draw an analogy between the canal and he himself,