Sunday, March 16, 2014

All Things Irish: Day 4....

 
The people of Ireland are known for their way with words. Everything tends to sound lyrical in the Irish brogue. However, as far as their contributions to the literary world go, they have been very generous.

It goes all the way back into the ancient history of Ireland. The Irish are second only to the Latin and Greeks in that their literature predates those of other Europeans, going back as far as the 4th and 5th centuries. Irish folklore is known throughout the world. Where else would you go for a good faerie tale but Ireland? The green hills, impressive ruins, and beautiful landscape sure would be inspiration enough for any poetic soul.

To this day, many Irish writers are still categorized as English authors because they lived in exile in England for lengthy periods of time. These writers include Edmund Burke, Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Maria Edgeworth, Oscar Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw.

Through time, Irish literature molded itself around its many ruptures and revivals. The most common themes found in an Irish author or poet’s work have to do with religion, land, language, and nationality. Perhaps most notable for his “Irishness” is none other than Nobel-prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats himself, who published reams of poetry to become the 20th century’s most prominent figures. Yeats knew the importance of roots – the roots of his nation’s literature, that is. On more than one occasion, he harkened back to Irish folklore, even publishing collections such as “Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.”

Yeats drew inspiration from these folk tales of his homeland. His poem “The Wanderings of Oisin” is even based on the lyrics of the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology….
We rode in sorrow, with strong hounds three,
Bran, Sceolan, and Lomair,
On a morning misty and mild and fair.
The mist-drops hung on the fragrant trees,
And in the blossoms hung the bees.
We rode in sadness above Lough Lean,
For our best were dead on Gavra's green.
 

Personally, I’m a fan of Yeats and keep one of his collections of Irish fairy tales on my inspiration shelf if ever I’m in need of a good read on a rainy day. Nothing like sipping a cup of hot tea curled up with some Yeats!

Other famous Irish writers include Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Thomas Kinsella, Frank McCourt, Liam O’Flaherety, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, C.S. Lewis, and Patrick McCabe. If you're interested more on the writers mentioned in this article as well as more details about Irish literary history, visit this great Encyclopedia Brittanica resource
 
Readers, do you have a favorite Irish poet/poem or author/book? Writers, has Irish literature served as inspiration for your own work? Has the Irish literary community, either past or present, touched your life?

Check back in tomorrow for more the St. Paddy’s Day celebration as we wrap up All Things Irish here at The Cozy Page! Bring your dancing shoes for some toe-tapping jigs and reels :-)

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