Poetics and Polemics: Reading seventeenth-century Irish political verse
by Michelle O Riordan
Poetics and Polemics is about the polemical presentation of Irish history in five ballad-style poems in Irish in the period c. 1630–1660. The five poems in question have achieved an iconic status as the ”voice” of the Gaelic Irish in the turbulent mid-century. The book interrogates each element of the poems in the contemporary context, using literary, devotional, official documentation, and polemical sources in Irish, English, Latin and French, where relevant.
Poetics and Polemics presents readings of the poems as literary works, and also as works of contemporary polemic engagement, participating in the vital, vigorous, and multilingual debates of the day. It examines the religious and political loyalties expressed in the poems; it queries the single voice allotted to them. The close readings reveal works that share genre and style essentials, but express, within those constraints, all the nuances, varieties of allegiance, and fractured and tortuous loyalties, that characterized that febrile and convulsed century. Poetics and Polemics completes Professor O Riordan’s suite of three works, examining Irish poetry within its genre and historical contexts – The Gaelic Mind and the Collapse of the Gaelic World (Cork University Press, 1994) and Irish Bardic Poetry and Rhetorical Reality (Cork University Press, 2007) being the other two. Poetics and Polemics re-establishes the multivalent voices subsisting in the mid-century poems, and returns agency and art to their shadowy authors.
Michelle O Riordan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Celtic Studies in the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Irish history in the period 1300–1700 is her principal area of research. Her work draws particularly on source material in the Irish language for those centuries. She has published books, monographs, and academic articles in the Irish and English languages with academic publishers and in peer-reviewed journals. Among them are: Múinidh dom Glao : Éifeacht mhothálach an ghairmigh ag filí na Gaeilge (Leabhar Breac: Ionad an Léinn Éireannaigh, National University of Ireland, Galway, 2016); Irish Bardic Poetry and Rhetorical Reality (Cork University Press, 2007); The Gaelic Mind and the Collapse of the Gaelic World (Cork University Press, 1990).
September 2021| 9781782054436 | €39 £35| Hardback | 234 x 156mm | 732 pages
Cork University Press