Donagh MacDonagh, ed. & intro., Poems From Ireland, with a preface by R. M. Smylie (Dublin The Irish Times 1944), 91pp.

Poets included are G. M. Brady; [Rev.] Patrick Browne; Joseph Campell; Austin Clarke; Rhoda Coghill; Maurice Craig; John Lyle Donaghy; Lord Dunsany; Padraic Fallon; Irene Haugh; George Hetherington; John Hewitt; F R Higgins; Valentine Iremonger; Fred Laughton; A. J. Leventhal; C. Day Lewis; Donagh McDonagh; Roy McFadden; Francis McManus; Brinsley MacNamara; Louis MacNeice; Ewart Milne; Myles na gCopaleen; Frank O’Connor; Roibeárd O Faracháin; Seumas O’Sullivan [sic]; W R Rodgers; Richard Rowley; ‘Michael Scot’ [sic]; Niall Sheridan; W B Stanford; Sheila Steen; L A G Strong; Francis Stuart; Geoffrey Taylor; Peter Wells; W. B. Yeats. Also Biographical notes, pp.xiii-xvii.

Preface: ‘When I first invited Mr. Donagh MacDonagh to compile an anthology of poems which had appeared in the columsn of the IRISH TIMES, my idea was that it should be primarily for private circulation. I must confess that the result of Mr Macdonagh's laburs suprised me; for ther eis no doubt that his anthology contains a remarkable amount of first-class literary work. In these circumstances, it has been decided to place the anthology on the market; and I am confident of its success. [...] Most of the poems have appeared since the outbreak of war; yet it will be seen that those poets who have been writing in Ireland have been almost wholly unaffected by the impact of the world struggle. To what extent this fact has affected the quality of their work, I leave the critics to determine. / [I do not hesitate to say that Mr. MacDonagh's anthology deserves a respectable place among modern works of its kind./ The ideas expressed in the introduction are entirely his own, and have nothing to do wth the policy of the newspaper which published the poems. I take this opportunity to epxrss my appreciation of the way in which he has done what always must be a difficult and invidious job.’ R. M. Smyllie, Editor, Irish Times. / December 1944. [v]

Introduction; ‘Since the publication of Lennox Robinson's Golden treasury of Irish Verse many years ago there has been no representative anthology to give readers here and abroad an idea of what is happening in Irhs poetry. Poems form Ireland is an attempt to provide such an anthology, and the fact that all the poems collected here were first published in one paper is a lucky accident [...' /]

‘ The best poetry written in this country, though in language it may be English, has yet a native quality which is difficult to define; and this may be due to the fact that though English has been the vernacluar here for over two centuries, the Irish tongue has never quite forgotten the native language.

‘Even those who write the most impeccable English may still be thinking in Irish. F. R. Higgins, for example, had a rich, colourful, slightly wild quality which is recognisably non-English, and Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry is as recognisably Irish as turf-smoke, though he is not consciously writing in the “Irish mode”. Austin Clarke and Roibeárd O Farachián [sic] do write consciously in that mode and in their work it may be easier to trace the elusive quality which separates their work from the general body of English literature.

All these poets are instantly and obviously non-English, [1] but even in those who are apparently writing in the English tradition there is a foreignness as elusive as William Saroyan’s. Saroyan writes prose whicn on the closest analysis is perfect English, but which our ear tells us is nothing of the kind; words which had become worn-out and stale are suddenly thrown together in unexpected combination and are fresh and vivid again. Even words such as “Alas!” take on new meaning, and all, I think, because Saroyan is a foreigner playing with a new language, just as the Irishman still is.

‘Where Irish poetry in English is going in the future it is not easy to guess - every child who faces the microphone in a Gaelic “quiz” programme is able to give a thumbnail history of Gaelic poetry, to quote long passages from eighteenth century poets and to sing long and complicated Irish songs. The study of English literature in the schools has become a subject with the same importance as French or Latin instead of the major subject which it once ws, and the majority of teaching is completely through Irish. In these circumstances it seems reasonable to suppose that either a new native poetry will begin to develop, or, at the very least, poetry written in English will show ever more signs of the Gaelic influence. Already many of the older poetrs and most of the younger ones are able to use Irish as a second language, a fact which is obvious in such poems in this collection as Joseph Campbell’s Butterfly in the Fields, Austin Clarke’s The Blackbird of Derrycairn, Padraic Fallon’s Mary Hynes, Roibeárd O Faracháin’s The King Threatens the Poets and the translations of Myles na gCopaleen and Frank O’Connor, and perhaps it is as well that our poets should concentrate on doing what they do supremely well writing verse which is demonstrably non-English, rather than emulating something that English poets can do very much better.

‘This collection is a cross-section of the Irish peotry of the past ten years - the influences are here and the influenced. To the poets who have generously given me permission to include their poems I express my gratitude, and to the Editor of the Irish Times I epxress my appreciation of the encouragement he has given to Irish poetry. If he can offer to the public in ten years another such collection it will be indeed an achievement. Si monumentum requiris, circumspice!’ [END; pp.1-2.]

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