Today the 27th of April is Irish Poetry Day.
To celebrate, here is an introductory guide to Irish poetry.
Introduction to Irish Poetry/爱尔兰诗歌简介
Irish poetry is rich and complex and this shows in its history. Irish poetry is the oldest vernacular form of poetry in Europe； this means that it was not written in the Latin language but in Irish. Being an island， Ireland was relatively protected from foreign invasions which preserved its insular language and culture.
The first Irish poems were short in length to make sure they would be easily passed on to further generations, and their rhythm was complex enough to make it difficult for people to change the original lyrics. These poems were shared orally and had many uses. Some poems would talk about the Kings’ life and glory. However as recited and shared orally among the people, they were mainly composed for entertainment.
We can trace the first poems written in the Irish language to the 6th century while the first Irish poems written in the English language appeared during the 14th century. There has naturally been intertwinement between the English and Irish traditions. In the 18th century, Irish and English language reached an equal level of importance and the Irish culture and the English language merged. However during the 19th century, economic and political factors placed the English language as predominant over the Irish one, and this phenomenon can be felt in the style of the contemporaneous poetry.
So what languages do Irish poets write in?/那么爱尔兰诗人到底用什么语言写诗？
Both English and Irish. There’s a wonderful poet named Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill who has written about how she feels inspired by the rhythm and meter of Irish in a way she can’t replicate in English. Another favourite is Cathal Ó Searcaigh, whose ‘Níl aon ní’ [‘There’s nothing’] has some stunning imagery of the Irish landscape. We also have some masterful translators, such as Thomas Kinsella who translated the Irish epic poem, ‘The Táin’, which is about an ancient war between the provinces of Connacht and Ulster.
答案是英语和爱尔兰语都用。爱尔兰有位非常厉害的诗人叫诺拉•尼歌诺（Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill），她就曾说过爱尔兰语的节奏与韵律给她带来的灵感是英语所无法企及的。另一位著名诗人凱索•欧•希尔凯（Cathal Ó Searcaigh）笔下的爱尔兰语诗Níl aon ní（即There’s nothing，中文意为什么都没有）生动展示了爱尔兰景观的壮丽。爱尔兰还有一些诗人本身还是翻译大师，他们把最经典的爱尔兰语诗歌翻译成英文。比如托马斯•金赛拉（Thomas Kinsella）就翻译了经典诗The Táin，这首诗讲述的是古时候康诺特省和阿尔斯特省之间爆发的一场战争。
4 Popular Irish Poets to Know/4 位必知的爱尔兰诗人
William Butler Yeats, (1865 –1939)
William Butler Yeats is one of the most well-known Irish poets. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature in December 1923. In China his poem “When you are old” became a popular song when sang in 2014 on a famous singing TV show.
威廉•巴特勒•叶芝是爱尔兰最负盛名的诗人之一，也是1923年诺贝尔文学奖的获得者。2014年，由歌手赵照根据叶芝的诗歌《When You are Old》红遍中国。
Another well-known poem of his is ''The Lake Isle of Innisfree'' :
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there,
of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there,
a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there,
for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway,
or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Patrick Kavanagh, (1904 –1967)
Patrick Kavanagh (1904 –1967) was an Irish poet and novelist. A few of his best known poems are "The Great Hunger", "On Raglan Road" and “Memory of my father”. He is recognizable for mostly writing about mundane and ordinary life issues.
帕特里克.卡瓦纳(1904 –1967) 是 爱尔兰著名的诗人和小说家。他的代表作包括《大饥荒》、《在拉格伦路》和《纪念我的父亲》。他的作品充满乡土气息，以描绘平凡的生活为主。
Memory of My Father
Every old man I see
Reminds me of my father
When he had fallen in love with death
One time when sheaves were gathered.
That man I saw in Gardiner Street
Stumble on the kerb was one,
He stared at me half-eyed,
I might have been his son.
And I remember the musician
Faltering over his fiddle
In Bayswater, London.
He too set me the riddle.
Every old man I see
In October-coloured weather
Seems to say to me
"I was once your father."
Seamus Justin Heaney, (1939 –2013)
Seamus Justin Heaney was an Irish poet, playwright, translator and lecturer at Harvard. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Critics say he is one of the most important Irish poets since Yeats. Academic John Sutherland described him as"the greatest poet of our age". In 2013, he was described by the journal The Independent as "probably the best-known poet in the world.” He is famous for his work the Death of a Naturalist (1966).
Eavan Boland, ( 1944- today)
Eavan Boland is an Irish poet and author born in Dublin. Daughter of a diplomat and painter, she studied in Trinity College where she wrote as a student her first collection of poems. She is now a professor at Stanford. Boland mostly writes about Irish identity and the place of women in Irish history, challenging the traditional representation of womanhood. A great number of her poems are studied by Irish students taking the Leaving Certificate examination (the equivalent of the Gaokao in China).
伊文•博兰 ( 1944- )是一名出生在都柏林的诗人和作家。她是一位外交官和画家的女儿，曾就读于都柏林圣三一大学，在校期间出版了她的第一本诗集。现在她是斯坦福大学的一名教授。博兰的作品以描述爱尔兰民族身份和爱尔兰女性在历史中的地位见长，对女性的传统象征进行挑战。她的诗歌中有很大一部分被纳入爱尔兰毕业考试（等同于中国高考）的学习大纲中。