The Midnight Court

The Midnight Court

A New Translation of "Cúirt An Mheán Oíche"

Book - 2006 | 1st North American ed
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Originally written in the Irish language by the 18th-century poet Brian Merriman (circa 1745-1805), 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 langua≥ 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."
Publisher: Winston-Salem, NC : Wake Forest University Press, 2006
Edition: 1st North American ed
ISBN: 9781930630260
Branch Call Number: 891.6 MERRIMAN
Characteristics: vii, 19-63 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Carson, Ciaran 1948-


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