Irish Papist

Irish Papist
Me and General Robert Lee

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Time for Poetry in Irish

Like most people, I rarely keep my New Year's Resolutions, but this year I did keep one; I resolved to read Irish language material rather than English language material, and I've kept it so far. (It allowed of exceptions.)

I'm one of those people who always "have a book on the go", (though I'm not a fast reader, nor am I especially well-read). I don't consider myself a "voracious reader", since I don't really enjoy reading for much more than half an hour at a time. So my resolution was that my "books on the go" would all be in the Irish language-- though that didn't mean I couldn't read books in English for some special reason.

Most recently, I've been reading an Irish language book about psychotherapy, which is heavy going, even though it's written for laymen. I found the stuff about Jungian psychology especially interesting. Still, it's a real trudge, and I don't look forward to opening it.

I've completely ignored the Irish language poetry shelves thus far. It's rather irritated me, actually, that there is so much poetry in Irish, as compared to other books in Irish. When I came to poems in journals, I skipped them.

I have a theory that appreciating poetry requires such an awareness of nuance, association, and all the aspects of language that lie outside the dictionary definition, that it's almost impossible to appreciate poetry in any language unless you're extremely fluent in it. Poetry is what gets lost in translation...I absolutely believe that.

Also, I've really struggled to understand poetry in Irish, even simple poetry-- because poets use language in an idiosyncratic and often oblique way, often resorting to unusual syntax.

But this afternoon, I suddenly decided...now I'm ready to read Irish poetry. And I felt excited at all the volumes of Irish language poetry on the shelves, a whole new world.

As I was saying in a previous post, I'm fascinated by those inner processes, which are mysterious even to ourselves, whereby we make such decisions.

The idea of a whole new field for exploration is also something that entrances me. One of my favourite lines of poetry, from one of my favourite poems ever, is this line from Tennyson's Ulysses: 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. The human need for new horizons seems to be inexhaustible. Even for a conservative like me.

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