Curses: An Irish Poetic Tradition
- Anonymous -- 19th century
Translated by Douglas Hyde. Obscure in details, but powerfully Old
Testament in tone!
- Patrick O'Kelly
A vigorous example by a little-known early 19th century author
paid to have it printed in 1812.
- James Stephens
Stephens won world reputation as author of The Pot of Gold, a
charming novel about leprachauns. Here he is in a different tone.
- John Millington Synge
Synge, Yeats's friend and collaborator in the Irish Literary Revival, is
best known for The Playboy of the Western World
For a brief discussion of the tradition, see Hugh Kenner, A Colder Eye:
The Modern Irish Writers (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1983),
80-81. Kenner remarks,
Now if a curse is efficacious, like a gunshot, it is also aspective, like
a gargoyle. On Paris churches sinners turned to stone must discharge waste
water from church roofs through their open mouths for ever, and likewise
as long as there are people to read or hear a fine elaborate curse it
holds the victim contorted in its torments.
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair,
-- As he does, he still does.
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.
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