With its roots in the devotional verse of the early Christian church and the long lyric poems of the Irish bards, Irish poetry has a rich and robust tradition both of engagement and self-reflection. It has grappled long with politics and has provided the most eloquent response to Ireland's turbulent history, mediating and mitigating histories of loyalty and loss; it has soaked itself in the Irish landscape and Celtic myth; it has encompassed religion, so much a part of Ireland's cultural heritage. At the same time Irish poets have given their own original slant to everyday experience and affairs of the heart. Thematically organized and spanning many centuries, this selection also features a section of Gaelic poetry in translation, notably excerpts from the 18th-century epic masterpiece, Brian Merriman's The Midnight Court.
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