Developments in love poetry in Irish, Welsh, and Scottish Gaelic, before 1650

O'Sullivan, Helen Jane Theresa (1976) Developments in love poetry in Irish, Welsh, and Scottish Gaelic, before 1650. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis looks for evidence of continuity and of change in love poetry in the Celtic languages of the British Isles before l650.The items studied are generally first-person statements of love. Poetry that is clearly intended as bardic panegyric or as elegy, as proverbial description of women's failings, or that adopts a sharply satirical or abusive attitude to women in general, is not made the subject of detailed discussion or emalysis, although occasionally I have found it necessary to refer to such poetry. Chapter One looks at the surviving poetry on themes of love and attraction from eighth to twelfth century Ireland and suggests that the separate traditions of monastic and pre-monastic Ireland can be identified. Chapter Two shows that the type of beauty praised in Irish and Scottish classical poetry before 1400 is dependent on conventions that were already established in the Old and Middle Irish period. It then looks at the content of poems composed before 1400,A11 but one of the poems describesd are by Gearoid larla (died 1398) ,some of them from an unedited Scottish manuscript source. I find that Gearoid's tone when: writing of women is generally ironic, or openly unflattering, Although his poems and the other one mentioned show some differences from the poems described in the first chapter, they do not enable one to decide whether foreign love poetry was being imitated in the classical metres during the fourteenth century. Chapter Three looks at a group of edited and unedited poems from an early sixteenth century Scottish manuscript, and shows that their chosen themes are women, love suid sexual fantasy. Attention is focused on a group of pos that I identify as love poems, Their possible back, ground in Irish and otter literatures is discussed, and it is suggested that they provide evidence of new fashions in the syllahic poetry of fifteenth century Ireland, fashions closer to those of the continent. Poems for which there are grounds for thinking that they were composed before 1630 form the next group discussed, in Chapter Four, It is shown that while some of the new topoi found in them might be expected to arise within any tradition of love poetryothers have characteristics that align them specifically with European writing. One can however distinguish a distinctively Irish treatment of most of the themes, and possible explanations for this are put forward. It is argued that a further group of poems surviving in maiuscripts of the late seventeenth century were probably composed at the same time as, or shortly after, the first group. Finally the distinctive characteristics of the earliest surviving Scottish Gaelic folksongs are noted, auid it is suggested that they belong to traditions of composition that predate the absorption of foreign styles into Irish and Scottish writing. Chapter Five looks at the earliest surviving Welsh love poetry ,i.e. that written by the bards in the twelfth and. thirteenth centuries, and at the prose of the same period, As a result of this study I discount the possibility that Welsh love poetry is already heavily influenced by foreign styles at this date. Chapter Six studies the work of Dafydd ap Gwilym (c.1320- c.1380),and sets out the ways in which his love poetry resembles and differs from earlier Welsh models. It is suggested that he disregards earlier conventions in order to extend the emotional and intellectual range of Welsh love poetry, Little evidence is found to show that he knew of or imitated, foreign styles of love poetry. Chapter Seven looks at other writers in the strict metres of the post-bardic period, and finds that their chief inspiration is the work of Dafydd and the bairds. I conclude with a study of the surviving verse in the ''free metres" (i.e.ones that lack or make little use of the traditional ornament of Welsh verse) and set out the reasons for regarding it as heavily influenced by sixteenth century English composition, A debt to traditional Welsh styles of poetry is also cleaxly apparent, and is probably the result of knowledge of recent poetry in the formal metres.

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
Supervisor's Name: Thomson, Prof. Derick
Date of Award: 1976
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:1976-41022
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2019 16:44
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2019 16:44
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/41022

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