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Exploring "A Great Day" by Brendan Kennelly: A Guide for Leaving Cert Students

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

Brendan Kennelly is one of Ireland's most renowned poets, and his works are widely studied in Leaving Cert English courses. "A Great Day" is one of his most famous poems and offers a unique perspective on the idea of greatness. In this blog, we will explore the themes and structure of "A Great Day" to help Leaving Cert students gain a deeper understanding of this remarkable poem.

1. Overview of "A Great Day"

"A Great Day" is a poem about the nature of greatness and what it means to be great. The poem is a reflection on the human experience and offers a unique perspective on the idea of greatness that challenges conventional notions of what it means to be great.

2. Themes of "A Great Day"

The themes of "A Great Day" include the nature of greatness, the human experience, and the concept of time. The poem explores these themes through vivid imagery and powerful metaphors, which make it an excellent example of Kennelly's poetic style.

3. Structure of "A Great Day"

The structure of "A Great Day" is free verse, which allows for a natural and organic flow of language. The poem is divided into stanzas of varying lengths, and each stanza offers a unique perspective on the theme of greatness.

4. Analysis of "A Great Day"

The poem begins with a powerful image of a horse standing in a field, which sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The horse represents the idea of greatness and sets the stage for the exploration of the theme throughout the rest of the poem. The poem explores the idea of greatness through different perspectives, including the experience of youth and the inevitable passage of time.


In conclusion, "A Great Day" by Brendan Kennelly is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that offers a unique perspective on the nature of greatness. Through its vivid imagery, powerful metaphors, and free verse structure, the poem challenges conventional notions of what it means to be great and offers a new way of looking at this important concept. As a Leaving Cert student, studying this poem can help you develop a deeper understanding of the human experience and the power of poetry to capture it.

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