Michael Hartnett


Life
1941-1999 [or Harnett; Micheál Ó hAirtneide]; b. 18 Sept., Croom, Co. Limerick, remaining there a fortnight; son of Denis and Bridie Harnett [née Halpin], and erron. given as Hartnett on certificate; raised in Camas [Newcastle West] by an Irish-speaking grandmother, Bridget Halpin, from Kerry; ed. local primary school, and then St. Ita’s, Newcastle West; worked as tea-boy on London building site;
 
moved to Dublin, 1963; studied for one year at UCD, at behest of John Jordan who had been alerted to his talent by Paul Durcan; stayed in Dublin with an Aunt Madge; failed all subjects; collaborated with Caitlín Maude on An Lasair Choille (1961); with James Liddy and Liam O’Connor, ed. Arena, 1963-65; worked as postman, then curator of James Joyce Tower in Sandycove (professing to prefer William Faulkner);
 
moved to London; m. Rosemary Grantley, April 1966; dg. Lara b. 1968; moved to Ireland and settled at Marino, Co. Dublin; issued Anatomy of a Cliché (1968), ded. Rosemary; worked for some time on the Dublin telephone exchange (Exchequer St.); birth of second dg., 1971; poetry reviewer for Irish Times; with Desmond Egan, co-ed. Choice (1973); announced intention of abandoning English on Peacock Theatre stage, 4 June 1974;

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moved to Templeglantine, Co. Limerick in 1974; issued Farewell to English (1975), and wrote in Irish only, 1975-85 (“to court the language of his people”); winner of received American Ireland Fund Literary Award, 1975 [var. 1974], 1980, and 1990; received Arts Council bursaries, 1975 and 1986; occasional lecturer and teacher of creative writing at Thomond College, Limerick after 1976;
 
acted as RTE presenter for ‘Poems Plain’, 1976-78; made frequent visits to Croom, drinking heavily; moved to Inchicore, Dublin, following the break up of his marriage, 1984; issued Inchicore Haiku (1985), once again in English; rendered the poetry of Dáithí Ó Bruadair in a modern idiom treating of the spoliation of a once noble culture by modern upstarts ( Ó Bruadair, 1985); issued A Necklace of Wrens (1987);
 
issued Poems to Younger Women (1989) and The Killing of Dreams (1992); also Selected and New Poems (1994); RTE documentary, “Michael Hartnett: Necklace of Wrens” (1999), in which he gave an account of long-term alcoholism and admitted believing in a connection between the muse and drink; suffered seizure in local hospital while attending Listowel Writers Week; d. 13th Oct.;
 
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, whose Selected Poems he had translated (1986); read at his funeral; survived by his second partner, Angela Liston, and the three children of his first marriage (Lara, another dg., and Niall); the Collected Poems, prepared sometime before his death, were finally issued by Gallery in 2001;
 
Eigse Michael Hartnett Literary & Arts Festival has been held annually in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, since 2000; a commemorative statue was unveiled there by Paul Durcan in 2011; Harnett’s papers are held in the National Library of Ireland; his son Niall, a professional photographer, compiled an anthology of tributes with portraits of the contributors (Notes from Contemporaries, 2009); Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is among many poets who have written elegies (“Michael and the Angel”, in The Sun-fish, 2009). DIW DIL FDA OCIL
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Works
Poetry collections
  • Anatomy of a Cliché [Ireland Editions, 4] (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1968), 26pp.;
  • The Hag of Beare, trans. from Irish (Dublin: New Writers Press 1969);
  • A Farewell to English [Gallery Books, 21] (Oakdown Rd., Dublin: Gallery Press 1975), 3-35pp.; and Do. [enl. edn.] (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1978), 86pp.;
  • Cúlú Íde/The Retreat of Ira Cagney (Kildare: Goldsmith Press 1975), 3-33pp., ill. [bilingual - the English version being a ‘variant. rather than a translation];
  • Poems in English (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1977);
  • Prisoners (Oldcastle, Meath: Gallery Press; Mass.: Deerfield Booklets 1977); Adharca Broic (Oldcastle, Meath: Gallery Press 1978), 36pp.;
  • An Phurgóid (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 1983), [2], 14pp.;
  • Do Nuala, Foidhne Chuainn (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 1984) [i.e., to Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill];
  • Inchicore Haiku (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1985), 35pp.;
  • [as Mícheál Ó hAirtnéide,] An Lia Nocht (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 1985), 20pp. [longer poem];
  • A Necklace of Wrens: Poems in Irish and English (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1987), 123pp.;
  • Poems to Younger Women (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1988), 33pp;
  • The Killing of Dreams (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1992), 39pp.;
  • A Book of Strays, ed. Peter Fallon (Oldcastle Gallery Press 2001), 68pp.;
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Translations & versions
  • Tao: A Version of the Chinese Classic of the Sixth Century (Dublin: New Writers Press 1971), 10pp.;
  • Gypsy Ballads: A Version of the Romancero Gitano of Frederico Garcia Lorca (Newbridge: Goldsmith Press 1973), 43pp. [ill., port. by Edward Maguire];
  • Ó Bruadair (Oldcastle, Meath: Gallery Press 1985), 53pp. [trans. of Irish Dáithí Ó Bruadair, ?1603-94];
  • Selected Poems of Nuala Ní Domhnaill (Oldcastle, Meath: Gallery Press 1986);
  • [as Mícheál Ó hAirtnéide,] An Damh-Mhac, trans. from Hungarian of Ferenc Juhász (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 1987), 24pp.;
  • Dánta Naomh Eoin na Croise, trans. from St. John of the Cross (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 1991), 67pp.;
  • Haicéad (Oldcastle, Meath: Gallery Press 1993), 89pp. [versions of poems of Pádraigín Haicéad];
  • Ó Rathaille: The Poems of Aodhaghán Ó Rathaille (Dufour Edns. 1998; rep. Gallery 1999), 78pp.;
  • Translations, edited by Peter Fallon (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2003), 127pp. [144pp.];
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Selected & Collected edns
  • Selected Poems [Zozimus Ser.] (Dublin: New Writers’ Press 1970), 61, [3]pp.;
  • Collected Poems, Vol. 1 (Dublin: Raven Arts Press; Manchester: Carcanet Press 1984), 168pp.;
  • Collected Poems, Vol. II (Dublin: Raven Arts Press; Manchester: Carcanet Press 1987),104pp.;
    Selected and New Poems (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1994), 104pp.;
  • Collected Poems (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2001), 255pp.

Also Gabriel Rosenstock, Portrait of the Artist as an Abominable Snowman: Selected Poems, trans. by Michael Hartnett, and new poems trans. by Jason Sommer (London: Forest 1989), 108pp.

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In translation, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, The Purge, a translation of “An Phurgóid” by Michael Hartnett (Dublin: Beaver Row Press 1989), [n.p.]. Also Seminando: a cura di Edoardo Zuccato [I Testi di testo a fronte, 15] (Milano: Crocetti 1994), 92pp.

Anthologies, Ed., with Desmond Egan, Choice: An Anthology of Irish Poetry Selected by the Poets Themselves with a Vomment on Their Choice, ed. by Desmond Egan & Michael Hartnett (Kildare: Goldsmith Press 1973), 119pp.; sel. & ed., Dundalk Urban District Council Arts Committee and Dundalk Democrat Poetry Anthology (Dundalk U.D.C. 1987), 54pp.

Contributions, “An Giorria/The Hare”, in Sruth na Maoile / Modern Gaelic Poetry from Scotland and Ireland, ed. Michael Davitt & Iain Mac Dhímhnaill (Canongate Press 1993), p.138.

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Criticism
Full-length studies
  • John McDonagh & Stephen Newman, eds., Remembering Michael Hartnett: A Language Seldom Spoken (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006), 192pp. [14 contribs. incl. Seamus Heaney, Declan Kiberd, Louis de Paor, Gabriel Rosenstock, Eoin Flannery, et al.].
  • Niall Harnett, ed., Notes from His Contemporaries: A Tribute to Michael Hartnett (priv. 2009), 166pp. [see details]
  • Pat Walsh, A Rebel Act: Michael Hartnett’s Farewell to English (Cork: Mercier Press 2012), 266pp.
Interviews/reviews
  • Victoria White, interview with Michael Hartnett, in The Irish Times (Thurs. 15 Dec. 1994) [see extract];
  • Bernard O’Donoghue reviews Ó Rathaille (Gallery 1999), in Times Literary Supplement ( 17 April, 1999) [see extract];
  • Eamon Grennan, ‘Wrestling with Harnett’, in Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the Twentieth Century (Creighton UP 1999) [chap.], pp.296-314;
  • Thomas O’Grady, ‘(Re)Visiting Michael Hartnett’, in Irish Literary Supplement, 9, 1 (2000), p.27;
  • Patricia Craig, review of Collected Poems (Oldcastle: Gallery Press), 255pp. [see extract];
  • Paul Durcan, ‘Hartnett’s Farewell’, in The Poet’s Chair: The First Nine Years of the Ireland Chair of Poetry, with a preface by Seamus Heaney (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2008) [Lect. 8].
Dissertations
  • Callum Boyle, ‘Tradition and Transgression in the Poetry of Michael Hartnett’ (MA Diss. UUC 2005) [source of sundry quotations here].

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Bibliographical details
Notes from His Contemporaries: A Tribute to Michael Hartnett, ed. Niall Harnett ([Chicago:] priv. 2009), 166pp. Contents - 40 contribs. incl. Leland Bardwell, Eavan Boland, Dermot Bolger, Pat Boran, Pat O'Brien, Paddy Bushe, Philip Casey, Eilean Ní Chuílleanaín, Michael Coady, Emma Cooke, Anthony Cronin, Tony Curtis, Greg Delanty, Nuala Ní Dhomhaill, Theo Dorgan, Sean Dunne, Paul Durcan, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Peter Fallon, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Seamus Heaney, Pearse Hutchinson [as Huthinson], Rita Kelly, Brendan Kennelly, Thomas Kinsella, James Liddy, John Liddy, Brian Lynch, Michael Longley, Hugh McFadden, Paula Meehan, Liam O'Mhuirtle, John Montague, Dennis O’ Driscoll, Gabriel Rostenstock, Michael Smith, Sydney Bernard Smith, Gerry Smyth, Sean Tyrrell, Breatrz Villacañas and Macdara Woods. In English and Irish.

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Website: The Harnett pages of “Culture & Custom / Poetry” website contain the poems “Death of an Irishwoman”, “The Poet as Black Sheep” for Paul Durcan (from Notes on My Contemporaries), and “Farewell to English”, as well as a biographical account (link; see also Notes, infra.)

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Commentary
Sebastian Barry, “The History and Topography of Nowhere” [Introduction,] The Inherited Boundaries: Younger Poets of the Republic of Ireland (Dolmen 1986): ‘[...] in the last few years a powerful reinstatement of the attractions of the language has felt its beginnings in the charismatic courage of Michael Hartnett — the language as a friend to poets, I mean. [...] The real translation would appear to be from European and otherwise writers. Allegiance had to shift there, or remain there, because most good European poets are translated into English, and this entices a kinship and alternative glosses. A language is desired in proportion to the susurrus of its writers. But it is easier to penetrate the sign-posted wilderness of Vallejo than the new roads of Hartnett. This is unprettily odd.’ (p.20.)

Victoria White, interview with Michael Hartnett, The Irish Times (Thurs. 15 Dec. 1994): ‘I sat down when I was 33, the age Christ died, and said, “Now is the time will decide”’, setting himself the task of mastering the “ealaíon ársa’, the ancient craft of the Gaelic poet; refers to his ‘leprachaun writing.’

Bernard O’Donoghue reviews Ó Rathaille (Gallery 1999), in Times Literary Supplement ( 17 April, 1999): containing 24 poems in translation; ‘there are moments of incomparably sympathy in Ó Rathaille, especially in the personal elegies at the approach of the poet’s own death which Hartnett translates wonderfully’; regards his trans. of “Gile na Gile” as surpassing Mangan’s or O’Connor’s.’

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Patricia Craig, review of Michael Harnett, Collected Poems, in Times Literary Supplement (3 May 2002): Harnett reared by grandmother, Bridget Halpin, an Irish-speaker with her cronies; a lifetime interest in Gaelic poetry ignited by introduction at thirteen to Daibhi Ó Bruadair; his first collection, Muince Dreoilíní [A Necklace of Wrens] (1987), recalls an association when a nest of wrens fell upon him, garlanding his chest and causing his grandmother to predict a life as a poet. Craig writes, ‘Harnett has always been something of a “poet’s poet”, acclaimed by his peers for his technical know-how and aptitude for strong imagery.’ Quotes his lines on the seventeenth-century Gaelic poets: “These old men walked on the summer road / sugan belts an long black coasts / with big ashplants and half-sacks/of rags and bacon on their backs,[… / they looked at me a while / then took their roads/to Croom, Meentogues and Cahirmoyle. / They looked back once,/black moons of misery / sickling their eye-sockets, / A thousand years of history in their pockets.” Also quotes Hartnett’s comment on “the obstinacy of the Irish mind, its constant connection with the past” and Heaney’s observation in an RTE documentary of Hartnett in 1997: “He’s not like anybody else”, with praise for ‘the owner of a unique voice whose confidence and ingenuity are lifted by a quiet waywardness.’ (p.24.)

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Bernard O’Donoghue, review of Michael Hartnett, Collected Poems [with Thomas Kinsella, Collected Poems], in The Irish Times ([3] Nov. 2001), Weekend, writes of Hartnett: ‘Locally rooted though he is, Hartnett is the least parochial of writers. Reading him now at length, what is most astonishing is his versatility.’ Quotes: ‘Life a knife cutting a knife / his last please for life/echoes joyfully in Camas’ (“Pigkilling”); ‘I loved her from the day she died. / She was a summer dance at the crossroads. / She was a card game where a nose was broken. / She was a song that nobody sings. (“Death of an Irishwoman”). Also quotes an Inchicore haiku: ‘Women in the street / faces the colour of fear. / I turn away my eyes.’ O’Donoghue published a collection, Here Not There (1999). (See full text, infra.)

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Rory Brennan, reviewing A Book of Strays, in Books Ireland (Sept. 2003): ‘ [...] I first met him when he was curator, or doorkeeper as he might have put it, of the newly opened Joyce Tower forty years ago. He was reading a William Fauikner novel. He indicated the book, pronouncing “I prefer him”, and then waved dismissively at the loycean memorabilia, waistcoats and all. I think he had briefly been a postman before that, and later was a night telephonist-both occupations where you are left largely alone. / A Book of Strays should do much to ensure that Hartnett’s memory and literary remains (as the Victorians liked to put it) do not drop in esteem. Quite simply, though a random collection as its title implies, it is marvellous. The fugitive pieces here include street epiphanies, comic verse that always flips the coin into sadness, love poems, the evocation of ghosts and a long faux-naïf ballad on his native Newcastle West that ranks with Under Milk Wood. All these poems are full of personality, wit, resilience, even tragedy. I suppose Kavanagh was Hartnett’s greatest exemplar and he followed him too much in pub-haunting ways. Unlike Kavanagh he left no outstanding poems that can be readily anthologised, though his body of work on the whole is superior. [...].’

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Denis Donoghue refers to Hartnett’s ‘giving up writing in English’ in the course of remarks on James Joyce and ‘the edginess of those writers of or own day who feel that they must retain contact with it [the Irish language.’ (‘The Fiction of James Joyce’, in Augustine Martin, ed., The Genius of Irish Prose, 1985, p.85.)

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K. J.’, writing in Times Literary Supplement (6 Jan. 1995), quotes from A Farewell to English [excerpted in Selected and New Poems] the exemplary lines, ‘Poets with progress make no peace or pact / The act of poetry / is a rebel act’; also describes his poetry as both traditional and fiercely oppositional.

Dermot Bolger, ‘Irishman’s Diary’ [colum], in The Irish Times [16 Nov. 2002], celebrates the 1970 New Writers edition of Selected Poems by Michael Hartnett, issued when he was ‘all of 31 [though] he looks about 13 on the cover’ and remarks: ‘the excitement of discovering those poems at the age of 15 was still so great that I physically shook when I first met him when I was 22 and he wound up enthralling the entire staff and queue in Macari’s shop in Finglas.’

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Theo Dorgan, ‘He didn’t choose Irish: it chose him’, review of A Rebel Act: Michael Hartnett’s Farewell to English, by Pat Walsh, in The Irish Times (26 May 2012), Weekend Review, p.10: ‘Hartnett’s election for Irish was essentially private, but, inadvertently or otherwise, by making his choice, and by making a public occasion of declaring his choice, he backed into a still unresolved politics, drawing attention to a psychic wound that has never healed, may indeed never heal. By opting to write in Irish, Hartnett found himself more or less forced into polemic. / The general understanding now, and Walsh does not challenge this understanding, is that Hartnett made his choice as a gesture towards the politics of language and race. More precisely, there are many who still believe that there was a certain level of wayward atavism in his choice, that he was expressing a wilful, retrograde loyalty to a submerged Gaelic order, to a repressed and oppressed dead culture as embodied in its language. / On the face of it, Hartnett himself seems to offer evidence for this case. A Farewell to English, announced as his last book in that language, is riddled with attitude-striking, with the ventriloquised anger of the 18th-century dispossessed. Even his poems excoriating our modern lack of vision could be read as projected forward from the values of that spurned Gaelic matrix. Reviews ranged from the gentle but sceptical (Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin) to the downright merciless and dismissive (Ciaran Carson), and Walsh does us a further service by gathering in so many of these first reactions. But, taken all in all, under and inside the protective rhetorical arguments of A Farewell to English, there is a genuine poetic impulse. What most commentators seem to miss, Walsh among them, is that Hartnett did not choose Irish: Irish chose him. [...] The poem begins to speak itself, the lost language puts him faoi geasa, he has no alternative but to accede. Everything else follows.’ (See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

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Quotations
Farewell to English”: ‘Chef Yeats, that master of the use of herbs / could raise mere stew to a glorious height,/pinch of saga, soupcon of philosophy / carefully stirred in to get the flavour right, / and cook a poem around the basic verbs./Our commis-chefs attend and learn the trade, / bemoan the scraps of Gaelic that they know: / add to a simple Anglo-Saxon stock / Cuchulainn’s marrow-bones to marinate, / a dash of Ó Rathaille simmering slow, / a glass of University hic-haec-hoc: / sniff and stand back and proudly offer you / the celebrated Anglo-Irish stew.’ [Cont.]

‘This road is not new. / I am not a maker of new things. / I cannot hew / out of the vacuum-cleaner minds / the sense of serving dead kings. // I am nothing new./ I am not a lonely mouth / trying to chew / a niche for culture/ in the clergy-cluttered south. // But I will not see/ great men go down / who walked in rags / from town to town/ finding English a necessary sin, / the perfect language to sell pigs in. // I have made my choice / and leave with little weeping. / I have come with meagre voice / to court the language of my people.’ (given in Soft Day: A Miscellany of Contemporary Irish Writing, ed. Peter Fallon and Sean Golden, Dublin: Wolfhound Press; Notre Dame 1980, p.142-45; for full-text version, see attached.)

Death of an Irishwoman
Ignorant, in the sense
she ate monotonous food
and thought the world was flat,
and pagan, in the sense
she knew the things that moved
at night were neither dogs nor cats
but púcas and darkfaced men
she nevertheless had fierce pride.
But sentenced in the end
to eat thin diminishing porridge in
a stone-cold kitchen
she clinched her brittle hands
around a world
she could not understand.
I loved her from the day she died.
She was a summer dance at the crossroads.
She was a cardgame where a nose was broken.
She was a song that nobody sings.
She was a house ransacked by soldiers.
She was a language seldom spoken.
She was a child’s purse, full of useless things.
 
Collected Poems (2001), p.139; given in Soft Day: A Miscellany of Contemporary Irish Writing, ed. Peter Fallon & Sean Golden (Dublin: Wolfhound Press; Notre Dame 1980), p.142; also given on Top of the Tent - writer, teacher, mother, chicken-keeper’s blog > online; accessed 19.07.2014.

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Castletown House: ‘The house was lifted by two pillared wings/out of its bulk of solid chisellings/and flashed across the chestnut-marshalled lawn … [I go out] into the gentler evening air/and saw black figures dancing on the lawn, / Eviction, Droit de Seigneur, Broken Bones:/and heard the crack of ligaments being torn/and smelled the clinging blood upon the stones.’ (Quoted in Patrick J. Duffy, ‘Writing Ireland’, in Brian Walker, In Search of Ireland: A Cultural Geography, 1997, p.74.)

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USA”: ‘Why are they afraid? / They live upon burial ground: / Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Teuton, Celt, Jew avert their eyes, afraid to look around / and see ghosts of Navaho, Cheyenne and Sioux. / They chained the land and pulled her down / and nailed her to the sea with towns. / She lies on her back, her belly cut in fields / of red and yellow earth. She does not yield, / she is not theirs. She does not love this race.’ (A Farewell to English, ed. Peter Fallon Gallery Press 1978, p.7; quoted in Sean Golden, ‘Post-Traditional English Literature: A Polemic’, in The Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies [Vol. 3, No. 2 1979], 1982, pp.427-34, p.435-55.)

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Maiden Street Ballad”: ‘Tis said that in Church Street no church ever stood / and to walk up through Bishop Street no bishop would, / and ’tis said about Maiden Street that maiden hood / was as rare as an ass’s pullover.’ (Book of Strays, 2002, p.30.) ‘Behind Nash’s Garage we played pitch-and-toss / or sat on the footpath the tinkers to watch / as they walloped each other because of a horse / outside Bill Flynn’s pub of an evening / Oh gone are the days of our simple past-times / when rawking an orchard was the worst of our crimes; / we fought with our fists and we never used knives / and ran like the hare when the priest came.’ (Ibid., p.31.) ‘If you think you can go back then you are a fool/for the Past is signposted “No Entry”’ (Ibid., p.35); also, ‘memory distorted by time in the minds of all who lived there’ (All quoted in Sharon Moore, op. cit., UUC 2007; note: Maiden St. was in Newcastle West, Limerick.)

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Sonnets from the Dark Side of the Mind’ (Collected Poems, Vol. I, Dublin: Raven Press; Manchester: Carcanet 1984, p.99-111): ‘I have been stone, dust of space, sea and sphere: / flamed in the supernova before man / or manmade gods made claim to have shaped me. / I have always been, will always be: I / am pinch of earth compressed in the span / of a snail-shell: galaxies’ energy, / the centre of the sun, the arch of sky.’ (p.99; quoted in Sharon Moore, op. cit., UUC 2007.)

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  Fís Dheireannach Eoghain Rua Uí Shúileabháin
  Do thál bó na maidine
ceo bainne ar gach gleann
is tháinig glór cos anall
ó shleasa bána na mbeann
Chonaic mé, mar scáileanna,
mo spailpíní fánacha,
is in ionad sleán nó rámhainn acu
bhí rós ar ghualainn chách.
 
—Quoted by Seamus Martin on Facebook - 31.01.2015.

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Waspoet”: ‘This poison I have stored / inside me all my life / and have refined / in delicate phials, / I inject the dead / and spew the venom out / because the sky is glass / and I am trapped / […] / I make a poem, I yell / and then compose a speech. / And then my oldest foe / with his blueberry eyes / comes and taps the glass / but destiny here / no jurisdiction holds / I am safe and, sting in hand, / I stab him in the throat.’ (A Necklace of Wrens, Dublin: Gallery Press 1987, p.101; quoted in Sharon Moore, op. cit., UUC 2007.)

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Tribal scar: ‘I have survived the tribal scar, / the decorative tattoo. / What I say is what I am / and is not open to tirades from you: / trying not not [sic] to be is what I do.’ (The Killing of Dreams, 1992, quoted in Gerald Dawe, review, Irish Times, 3 Oct. 1992.)

Ó Bruadair (1985), Introduction admits to an ‘obsession’ with the challenging poems of this poet and the formidable difficulties in translating a highly sophisticated Gaelic master who ‘died with his culture in 1698’ and who turned from being a file, the dignified chronicler of his race, into a ‘ragged horny-handed itinerant, muttering under his breadth.’ Further: ‘1. Poetry is that which gets lost in translation; 2. is a widely held notion. I do not agree with it. A poet/translator, if he loves the original more than he loves himself, will get the poetry across or, at second best, force his own version - within the structures laid down by the original author - as close as possible to poetry’. (Quoted in John Cronin, review, Irish Studies Review, Winter 1994/95.) Further speaks of the ‘obstinacy of the Irish mind […] its constant connection with the past’ (‘Introduction’, Ó Bruadair, 1985, p.9; quoted in Boyle, op. cit., 2005, p.14.)

  Secular Prayers” [sequence].
  Whom I ask for no gift,
whom I thank for all things,
this is the morning.
Night is gone, a dawn
comes up in birds and sounds of the city.
There will be light
to live by, things
to see: my eyes will lift 
to where the sun in vermilion sits,
and I will love and have pity.
 
Collected Poems (2001), p.xiii; quoted by Peter Quinn on Facebook - 20.04.2016.

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Haicéad (1993): “Notes on Translation” [ prefixed]: ‘a translation is at best an illuminating footnote to the original.’ (Quoted in John Cronin, review of Ó Bruadair [op. cit., supra].)

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References
Visit the Michael Hartnett Website

There is a Harnett page at Galway University’s [NUI] “Bibliography of Irish Literature in Translation”, compiled by Nollaig Mac Congáil and Gearóidín Uá Nia - online.

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James Simmons, ed., Ten Irish Poets (Carcanet 1974) [‘The Person Nox Agonistes’; ‘The Poet as Black Sheep’; ‘Crossing the Iron Bridge’; ‘The Lord Taketh Away’; ‘The Night before Patricia’s Funeral ...’; ‘The Third Sonnet’; ‘A Small Farm’; ‘The Person as a Dreamer’; ‘All That is Left’],

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Peter Fallon & Seán Golden, eds., Soft Day: A Miscellany of Contemporary Irish Writing, ed. (Notre Dame/Wolfhound 1980), Prisoners; Death of an Irishwoman; from A Farewell to English.

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day Co. 1991), Vol. 3, selects from Adharca Broic; Do Nuala Foigne Crainn; An LiaNocht, [915-18]; A Farewell to English, 1387-89; BIOG., 1434.

Patrick Crotty, ed., Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1995), selects “Bread” [236]; “I have exhausted the delighted range” [236]; “For My Grandmother, Bridget Halpin” [237]; from “A Farewell to English”, 1 [237]; “Lament for Tadgh Cronin’s Children” [238]; “The Man who Wrote Yeats, the Man who Wrote Mozart” [239]; “Sneachta Gealaí ’77” [246], trans. by Hartnett as “Moonsnow ’77” [247].

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Books in Print (1994) Ó Bruaidair, Selected poems of Dáibhí Ó Bruadair, translated and introduced by Michael Hartnett (Dublin: Gallery Press 1985), 53pp. [for Desmond and Olda Fitzgerald [cover by Michael Kane] [0 904011 90 9; 91 7 cloth]; Collected Poems Vol. 1 (1986; Raven Arts/Carcanet 1987), 103pp. [for Denis Hartnett 1914-1984]; Collected Poems Vol. 2 (1986; Raven Arts/Carcanet 1987), 168pp. [for Rosemary, whom I do not deserve].

Cathach Books (1996/97) lists The Naked Surgeon, ill. (Dublin: Purple Heron n.d.); Gipsy Ballads (Dublin: Goldsmith Press 1973), 42pp.; The Retreat of Ita Cagney (Culu Ide), with Mosaic by finola Graham [Last book publ. In old Irish Script] (Dublin: Goldsmith Press 1975), 34pp.; siged copies.

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Notes
Tribute(s): Michael Coady has written a tribute to Michael Hartnett in “Adhlacadh an Dreoilin [the Wren’s Burial]”, in One Another (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2003). Hartnett was best man at Gabriel Fitzmaurice’s wedding.

Synge-song: “The Teaboy of the Western World” is the title of an article by Hartnett written and published while working in London building sites. (See the website biography by his daughter [link; extinct at 20.10.2010].)

Namesake: Michael Hartnett of Purcell Singers (boys’ voices of the English Opera Group, Choristers of All Saints, Margaret Street), is the treble soloist in a performance of A boy was born, being a set of choral variations (op. 3) by Benjamin Britten (Decca Eclipse 1971.)

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Corrigenda: The editor of The Irish Culture and Customs website has offered a correction to our biographical account of Hartnett’s marriages and relationships in the form of a note from his daughter, writing: ‘He was married to my Protestant mum, Rosemary - the Jew thing was a fiction that Dad liked to tell people for his own amusement and their bemusement! He only had two children with my mum, myself Lara [var. Laura] and my brother Niall. As for the child with another woman, we are not sure!’ The author of the note is credited with supplying much useful information, presumably including the dates of birth and death - the latter at variance with what was originally recorded in Ricorso at Hartnett > Life - as supra [viz, err. 15th Sept]. (See Irish Culture and Customs - online.)

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