Irish Poetry -- Background and Information
The bard's spoken language lent itself to the natural rhythm and rhyme, and alliteration, consonance and repetition were very important to the Irish poet. Until the 5th Century, the only written form of Irish was Ogham, used only for carving into trees and gravestones. Therefore, poetry was oral, and based on sound structures so they would be easy to remember. When crafting medieval Irish poetry, remember that it is cyclical and the last line should end with the first syllable word or the complete line or thought, bringing it around again to the beginning.
Praise poetry was commonly practiced by the poets and there were various meters used, such as dán díreach ("straight or strict verse"). Poems were often sung to musical accompaniment. Some thought the bards had supernatural powers that came with their words. Satire, not to be confused with the modern form of satirical humor, was a poetic practice greatly feared. It was used to ridicule, shame, even destroy the subject of the poem such as at the beginning of a war. Poets were also called upon to get rid of pests such as rodents, and bards were one of the first steps in becoming a druid.
Rannaicheacht Ghairid (ron-a'yach cha'r-rid):
A quatrain stanza with uneven lines. The first line has three syllables, the other three have seven. The stanza rhymes a a b a, with a cross-rhyme between three and four.
x x a
x x x x x x a
x x x x x x b
x x b x x x A
#35 RANNAIGHEACHT GHAIRID EXAMPLE
cried all month, the year, and scorned
serene calls for happiness
though he blessed whom he forlorned.
cried: "Go to China." One purrs:
"Give yourself something to talk
about," walking, she demurs,
"if you come
back, or if not, we'll have some
occasion to mourn forlorn."
Though quite torn he went still numb
he said, going with a tear,
off to China at eighty.
Now pity Father's mourned year.
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