The Midnight Court

The Midnight CourtWonderful translation of an old classic Prof Prionsias O Conluain of the Merriman summer school said it was the best translation of this poem he has even read, keeping as far as possible, not only the meaning but also the sounds of the original Irish verse Some other beautiful poems as well Love it. This poem reminds me a bit of Keats La Belle Dame Sans Merci by that, I mean it s 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. Originally Written In The Irish Language By The Th Century Poet Brian Merriman Circa , 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 Th Century Catholic Ireland Under British Colonial Rule, While Subversively Playing On The Tradition Of The Aisling Or Vision Poem In Which A Beautiful Woman Represents Ireland S Threatened SovereigntyAt The Beginning Of The Midnight Court, A Dreadful Female Envoy From The Fairies Appears In A Dream To The Unmarried Poet She Summons Him Before The Court Of Queen Aoibheall In Order To Answer Charges Of Wasting His Manhood While Women Are Dying For Want Of Love He Listens To Complaints That Vary From The Celibacy Of The Clergy To Marriages Performed Between Old And Young For Purely Economic Reasons In All Their Bawdy Tales, The Female Courtiers Praise Fertility, As Well As Sexual Fulfillment, And Condemn The Conventions Of The Day At Last The Queen Pronounces Judgment On The Poet, Who Awakens As He Is Being Severely Chastised By All Of The Women Of The CourtWhile Containing Many Insights Into Th Century Social Conditions, The Midnight Court Is Also An Exuberant, Even Jaunty Work Of The Comic Imagination As The Translator Ciaran Carson States In His Foreword The Protagonists Of The Court, Including Merriman Himself, Are Ghosts, Summoned Into Being By Language They Are Figments Of The Imagination In The Court The Language Itself Is Continually Interrogated And Merriman Is The Great Illusionist, Continually Spiriting Words Into Another Dimension 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 before Aoibheall, the Queen of Heavens First, a young Irish woman bemoans the refusal of Irish men to procreate Then an old man accuses the young woman of being a slut The woman berates him and calls for penalties against those men ignoring the yearnings of woman, even calling upon the Catholic clergy to wed or at least cease withholding themselves from women The verdict is that all men over 21 years old who are unmarried shall be punished The narrator, who is 30 and unwed, is turned over to the women for his punishment but awakens from his nightmare at the last minute.This rather bald plot description is entirely inadequate to convey the cleverness and roistering wit of the poetry Carson s translation is delightful, the rhyme and meter he chooses are charming the meter approximating the nursery rhyme, To market to market to buy a fat pig , and his ability to capture the spirit of this most humorous poem spot on The entire poem can be read in little than an hour, an hour most pleasantly spent. How dare this old dirt bird discuss womenkind,When a proof of his manhood no woman can find This is a gem of a poem, and a fantastic translation If you haven t read it, you won t regret picking it up. Eh It was odd I m glad I read it But it was strange But good But strange. Funny, bawdy, anachronistic translation, but it works A classic. 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 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 privileged classes in a kind of democratic dip into the low life that crosses class boundaries and makes a mockery of pretense Certainly there is no claim to literary achievement here any than in Boccacio and none of the wicked irony of Chaucer Were is not so rare a find, it would not be a find at all but given the paucity of such examples found intact it has found itself a niche in the history of Irish poetic license As an artifact it rates a five for rarity As literature, a one. 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 now be seen as Merriman s virtue his refusal of the poetry talk of Munster tradition Realism impelled him to tell a good story through colourful characters caught up in an inherently stressful situation Merriman s genius lay in his capacity to write in a language very close to everyday speech of his Clare, and yet somehow to infuse that speech with the rhymes and assonances of poetry He understood, perhaps better than anyone, that Gaelic poetry had too often failed to trust the rhythms of conversational speech DK also argues that M offers a quite liberal, if not radical, vision of sexual s, though he acknowledges any feminist message gets muddled, if not outright compromised, by a rather safe ending that softens views of sexual freedom promoted earlier.If that seems like work than a book should require, I m sympathetic I typically don t feel like I need to read some literary scholarship to enjoy or understand a work, and in this case if I hadn t met Kiberd once and shared a meal with him during a campus visit, I doubt I would ve bothered The man seems to know everything about history of Irish Lit, and writes very well an elusive quality among too many academics But this is one of those cases where such an essay proved enlightening and enjoyable But, please, for god s sake, don t let any misguided requirement to pop a few caps of scholarship like digestive enzymes prevent you from reading this very entertaining poem, or any work of literature for that matter. This pretty much strained my command of written Irish to breaking point since I read the original version first, and then checked it against one of the better translations I d definitely missed some of the elliptical colloquialisms That said it s worth reading in Irish because there is a sense of humour, mindset and turn of phrase that loses a lot of it s nuance and ribald poetry in translation It s a loooong poem Not Paradise Lost long but still at 1000 lines long enough presented as an Aisling or vision poem I think it might gain something in seeining it performed Traditionally the poem is divided into three or sometimes five parts I imagine the humour is even accessible when performed The plot is the Aoibheal, a Sidhe queen, is asked to aritrate over a dispute between the women and the men of the village A young woman accuses the men of ruining the women s chances of fulfillment and happiness by refusing to marry An old man answers angrily that the state of depravity and greed of women is the reason The young woman then spends 200 lines delivering the most scathing opinion of tge man imaginable On the surface it sounds ordinary fair, possibly a bit dated and sexist now In actuality it s depiction of the incompatibilities of male and female sexuality is pretty close to the mark, not to mention the knuckle I m inclined to applaud Merriman for noticing there was such a thing as female sexuality when it was being stringently repressed and oppressed at the time of writing Ultimately it s not a flattering portrait of either sex and is by turns grotesque, crude, humourous and scathing It does capture a particular Irish tone in it s delivery and it s portrayal of both conversation disagreement and forthright if twisted logic Definitely worth a read, although if you don t read Irish go for one of the decent translations Some translations try too hard to convey the assonance and meter and rhyme scheme in English and kill the nuance.

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Midnight Court book, this is one of the most wanted Brian Merriman author readers around the world.

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  • Paperback
  • 63 pages
  • The Midnight Court
  • Brian Merriman
  • English
  • 14 March 2017
  • 9781930630253

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