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Irish Poetry -- Background and Information

The bard's spoken language lent itself to the natural rhythm and rhyme, and  alliteration, consonance and repetition were very important to the Irish poet.  Until the 5th Century, the only written form of Irish was Ogham, used only for carving into trees and gravestones. Therefore, poetry was oral, and based on sound structures so they would be easy to remember. When crafting medieval Irish poetry, remember that it is cyclical and the last line should end with the first syllable word or the complete line or thought, bringing it around again to the beginning.

Praise poetry was commonly practiced by the poets and there were various meters used, such as dán díreach ("straight or strict verse"). Poems were often sung to musical accompaniment. Some thought the bards had supernatural powers that came with their words. Satire, not to be confused with the modern form of satirical humor, was a poetic practice greatly feared. It was used to ridicule, shame, even destroy the subject of the poem such as at the beginning of a war. Poets were also called upon to get rid of pests such as rodents, and bards were one of the first steps in becoming a druid.


Rannaicheacht Ghairid (ron-a'yach cha'r-rid):

A quatrain stanza with uneven lines. The first line has three syllables, the other three have seven. The stanza rhymes a a b a, with a cross-rhyme between three and four.

x x a
x x x x x x a
x x x x x x b
x x b x x x A


Father mourned,
cried all month, the year, and scorned
serene calls for happiness
though he blessed whom he forlorned.

His daughters
cried: "Go to China." One purrs:
"Give yourself something to talk
about," walking, she demurs,

"if you come
back, or if not, we'll have some
occasion to mourn forlorn."
Though quite torn he went still numb

"Never fear,"
he said, going with a tear,
off to China at eighty.
Now pity Father's mourned year.

Jan Haag....2-4-98

Research Source -…
Another Irish form--

The Rannaicheacht Ghairid

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Add a Comment:
Tridelvior Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2005's powerful but hard to write..took me an hour and a half for five stanzas. :slow:
jl Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2004  Professional Writer
Now this is one of the weirdest things I ever came across. Thanks a lot for presenting such great forms I'd never have heard of otherwise :-)
RebeccaA Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2004
Love the histiory, but I think the form will be more of a challenge than it looks. It will be interesting to try though.
yukin Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2004
No kidding, now let's start writing, shall we?
TalesFromMyCell Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2004  Hobbyist Photographer
Good lord that sounds very hard but I will be back to try it sometime soon.
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Submitted on
September 25, 2004
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