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The Midnight Court - Softcover

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Originally written in the Irish language by the 18th-century poet Brian Merriman (circa 17451805), 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 subversively playing on the tradition of the aisling (or vision) poem in which a beautiful woman represents Ireland s threatened sovereignty. At 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 court. While containing many insights into 18th-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. "

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Review:
"Carson's translation of 'The Midnight Court' is that rarest of things: a small and utterly enjoyable masterpiece...What Carson offers the willing in these 60 pages of poetry with a brief introduction is a rollicking evening of instruction in the pleasures of a long and entertaining poem." -- Tim Rutten "Los Angeles Times"
About the Author:
Born in 1948 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Ciaran Carson studied at Queen s University, Belfast, where, from 20032015, he served as the director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. Though recently retired from that post, he continues to teach a postgraduate poetry workshop there, in addition to overseeing the Belfast Writers Group. Earlier in his career (from 19751998), Ciaran Carson acted as an arts officer for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He is also a member of Aosdana and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. A writer of both poetry and prosefiction and non-fiction alikeCiaran Carson has also translated many texts, including The Midnight Court, a work of the eighteenth-century poet Brian Merriman, and a version of Dante s The Inferno, which won the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize. His other awards include the first-ever T. S. Eliot Prize (1994, for First Language), and the Forward Prize for Best Collection (2003, for Breaking News). As well as being a significant poet and careful translator, Carson is also a scholar of traditional Irish music; he frequently plays the flute alongside his wife, the accomplished Irish fiddler Deirdre Shannon. He has said: I m not interested in ideologies . . . I m interested in the words, and how they sound to me, how words connect with experience, of fear, of anxiety . . . Your only responsibility is to the language. "

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  • PublisherWake Forest University Press
  • Publication date2006
  • ISBN 10 1930630255
  • ISBN 13 9781930630253
  • BindingPaperback
  • Number of pages63
  • Rating
    3.81 avg rating
    ( 128 ratings by Goodreads )

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