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The Midnight Court
Originally written in the Irish language by the 18th-century poet Brian Merriman (circa 1745–1805), The Midnight Court is here translated by one of Ireland’s distinguished contemporary poets, Ciaran Carson. This extended satiric poem assesses the growing economic, political, and familial constraints of late 18th-century Catholic Ireland under British colonial rule, while s ...more
Paperback, 63 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Wake Forest University Press
(first published January 1st 1975)
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As others have already said, a very witty, bawdy, entertaining read, one that can be enjoyed on that level alone. But to fully appreciate the social and literary significance of the poem, I'd recommend some background reading, in particular a Declan Kiberd essay in Irish Classics. DK argues that M. was parodying conventions of the traditional "aisling" ("vision") poem in Gaelic literature, and in the process promoting the vernacular in Irish language: "What critics once counted as a weakness may ...more
This witty, rollicking, and ribald poem was written in 1780 by Brian Merriman, a resident of County Clare, Ireland. Little is known about the poet. The poem is a variant of the aisling, a literary genre in which a poet typically wanders into the wild and meets a fairy woman identified with Ireland who predicts the return of the rightful Irish king. In this poem, however, the fairy is ugly and threatening, dragging the author off to a court where the issue of Irish under-population is being tried ...more
Mar 04, 2016 Ellen rated it really liked it · review of another edition
This poem reminds me a bit of Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" - by that, I mean it's more like a satire version of the Keats poem, with added social commentary. I especially enjoyed reading the varied translations, each with their own rhythm, rhymes, and overall feeling.
Ribald - and/or scatalogical - poetry are not my idea of literature though both were produced by a writer I admire, Jonathan Swift. The world of publishing was a very different one in the 1700 and 1800s and ribald humour was more openly indulged than is generally the case today. The value of The Midnight Court is primarily as an artifact of the age rather than as literature. It is, in its way, a social document that pulls back the Irish lace curtain revealing the lust and hypocrisy of the privil ...more