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May 27, 2012

AN SIONNACH FIONN

A quick post to mark a review by Theo Dorgan in the Irish Times of a new biography of the Irish poet Mícheál Ó hAirtnéide (Michael Hartnett), who also happens to be one of my favourite wordsmiths, not least for his legendary description of the English language from his collection “A Farewell to English”:

“The road is not new.

I am not a maker of new things.
I cannot hew
out of the vacuumcleaner minds
the sense of serving dead kings.

I am nothing new
I am not a lonely mouth
trying to chew
a niche for culture
in the clergy-cluttered south.

But I will not see
great men go down
who walked in rags
from town to town
finding English a necessary sin
the perfect language to sell pigs in.

I have made my choice
and leave with little weeping:
I have come with meagre voice
To court the language of my people.”

Ironically enough it…

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