Incoming: Irish Poetry and Translation

Justin Quinn

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561247
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Incoming: Irish Poetry and Translation

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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Recent Irish poets' engagements with other languages (Seamus Heaney with Old English; Michael Longley with Greek; Ciaran Carson, Derek Mahon, and David Wheatley with French; and Peter Fallon and Derek Mahon with Latin) offer important insights into contemporary Irish poetry written in English. Ireland's adoption of English as its first language has enabled Irish writers to partake in perhaps the most important European literary tradition: that of the English language. This chapter examines poetry translation by Irish poets from languages other than Irish, focusing on Hugo Hamilton's house in south Dublin, and considers some of the work of Irish poets – both as they translate, adapt, ‘version’, and as they write poems about translation – through the frame of the Hamiltons' front window. These poets inhabit the ‘blank space left over’ of English, which is limned by the Irish language on the one hand and the presence of a foreign language on the other. The chapter also discusses the role of translation, both as method and theme, in the original work of several poets.

Keywords: translation; Irish poetry; English language; foreign language; Hugo Hamilton; Seamus Heaney; poets; Irish language

Article.  6738 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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