A Look At Irish Poetry

BooksFor centuries, the storytelling tradition of Ireland has remained an important facet of the country and its culture.

Throughout history, the Irish have been renowned for their “gift of gab” – a particular facility with self-expression, language, and dramatic flair: nowhere is this facility more marked than in the art of Irish poetry.

Indeed, since the sixth century, when poets penned sagas on the pages of illuminated manuscripts (such as the Pangur Ban, written by an Irish monk), Irish poetry has remained a singular and hypnotic art form.

The best Irish poetry focuses on the the country and its people – whether sophisticated or “folk” in tone, it always honors the experience of being Irish…

Irish Poetry Through The Centuries…

In the 6th century, poetry was mostly written in prose form (unstructured and conversational); this tradition continued right up to the 11th century, when bards began to add different elements into their “poems”. In the court of an Irish chieftain, the bard, or poet, would wear many hats (metaphorically speaking).

A bard would be a jester, who was there to keep the chieftain happy and entertained…but he would also be a historian, who recorded the events of the day in poetic form. These stories would be passed down, as written or verbal records of the Irish people and all of their struggles and victories…

The bards moved Irish poetry forward; they were quite organized, and they valued tradition, clan, and patriotism…naturally, these themes were also common in their spoken and written work.

These poet-courtiers began to use techniques such as alliteration and assonance to add resonance to their poems. The use of syllabic meter helped to create a specific style that was more controlled and uniform.

Alas, the poems of the bards bear little resemblance to the poems of today; they were primarily stories, told in script or aloud, and they helped to carry the lessons of history down through the generations…

The End Of The Bards Signalled A New Direction In Irish Poetry…

In time, the influence of the bards and their traditions faded…by the 17th century, poets were no longer full-time courtiers. Instead, they were everyday people, who worked day jobs as laborers, farmers, or suchlike.

Poetry became a part-time occupation…a passion, or even an escape from the mundane. As this shift occured, the Early Modern Irish period began…

During this phase, the rapidly changing face of Irish society was examined in verse – political themes were commonplace. Gaelic poetry during this time frame really reflected the face of a new society…

The modern age still referenced the bards and the storytelling tradition – poets such as William Butler Yeats (perhaps Ireland’s greatest poet) produced legendary work that echoed the past.

His most famous poems (The Wild Swans At Coole, The Second Coming, The Song Of Wandering Aengus) all told stories with a lyrical, romantic style. While The Second Coming was very dark and ominous, and warned of the dangers of modern society, with its industrialization and “progress”) Wild Swans At Coole was a fond and bittersweet depiction of Ireland in all of its natural beauty.

Nature, history, and unrequited love, as well as the fear of mortality, were often themes in his work, which was at times humorous and sweet, but also melancholy…here is an excerpt from one of his greatest poems, The Song Of Wandering Aengus (read it aloud to get the full effect: it has a hypnotic rhythm):

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

William Butler Yeats

Capture The Irish Spirit With Jewelry Engraved With Ancient Symbols…

Trinity Knot Irish EarringsThe Trinity Knot is also part of Ireland’s cultural tradition. This ancient symbol, with its three interlocking segments, represents the Holy Trinity. Each part of the trefoil design illustrates the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit.

Faith and spirituality are ongoing themes in Irish and Celtic history…honor your ancestry with beautiful Trinity Knot earrings…their symbols date back to the sixth century…