Aug 9, 2010

A Irish Poet

Douglas Hyde was Ireland's first president. He was born in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon in 1860. As a teenager, he fostered a love of the written word and composed stories, poetry, and plays. He also became an advocate for preserving the Irish language, co-founding the Gaelic League (Conradh Na Gaeilge) in 1893. He died in 1949, leaving a legacy of both his poetry and others, which he translated. For example:

A Poem to Be Said on Hearing the Birds Sing by Douglas Hyde
A FRAGRANT prayer upon the air
My child taught me,
Awaken there, the morn is fair,
The birds sing free;
Now dawns the day, awake and pray,
And bend the knee;
The Lamb who lay beneath the clay
Was slain for thee.

An ancient poem Hyde translated:

Feet of fine bronze under it
Gittering through beautiful ages,
Lovely land throughout the world's age,
On which the many blossoms drop.

An [ancient] tree there is with blossoms
On which birds call to the hours
It is with harmony it is their wont
To call together every hour.

Unknown is wailing or trechery,
In the familar cultivated land,
There is nothing rough or hard,
But sweet music striking on the ear.

Without grief, without sorrow, without death,
Without any sick men, without debility,
That is the sign of Emain,
Uncommon is an equal marvel.

I'm not an expert in poetry, and I don't write it, but if you are or if you do, you might find Douglas Hyde's words about the ancient poetry interesting:

I have now shown, and I think proved beyond any question, that the fair flower of poetry had blossomed amongst the Gaels in the seventh century, and possibly for a considerable time before that. They had many measures, or metres, or forms of versification, they had Uaithne (middle assonance), Uaim (alliteration) ComhĂ rda (Irish rhyme), a settled number of syllables in the line, and of lines in the verse, as far back as the seventh century, at the least. This is to say that the Gaels were three hundred years or more in advance of the rest of Europe, in everything pertaining to poetry.~ From Irish Poetry: An Essay in Irish with Translation in English and a Vocabulary by Douglas Hyde, 1902.

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