“Tha Mulad Air M’Inntinn” and early modern Gaelic dialogue poetry

Mathis, K. (2019) “Tha Mulad Air M’Inntinn” and early modern Gaelic dialogue poetry. Aiste, 5, pp. 90-140.

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Publisher's URL: https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/humanities/research/celticgaelicresearch/publications/aiste/


The addition of new poetry to the corpus of one whom Somhairle MacGill-Eain considered the composer of ‘one of the greatest poems ever made in Britain’ would be cause for celebration irrespective of its quality. Luckily, ‘Tha Mulad Air M’Inntinn’, apparently the earliest of Mòr Chaimbeul’s intricate descriptions of her relationship with Griogair Ruadh MacGregor (d. 1570), is also a finely-wrought and fascinating text, preserving a moment of heightened acuity and remarkable emotion from the middle of the sixteenth century. Equally significant is the poem’s structure: arranged, ostensibly, as a two-part dialogue between Mòr and Griogair Ruadh, it was almost certainly the work of Mòr alone, raising a number of questions concerning her chosen means of presentation. These are explored in Part I of the discussion; Parts II and III pursue the phenomenon of the dialogue poem from early examples in medieval Irish prosimetric scéla to the Book of the Dean of Lismore; Part IV examines a small group of dialogues from the MacDiarmid manuscript (1770), suggesting that close-reading of dual-voiced texts that cannot be contextualized reliably may nonetheless permit tentative conclusions regarding their composer’s gender, and his or her attraction to the dialogue form. Parts V and VI conclude that a dialogue poem could enable its author to communicate with persons from whom they were otherwise divided, (whatever the cause), and that it could also be employed to restore the agency of those rendered voiceless elsewhere. The first appendix presents a provisional check-list of dialogue verses recorded in manuscript and printed collection from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries (confined to those examples comprised ostensibly, like Mòr’s, of one male and one female participant); the second provides texts and translations for MacDiarmid’s dialogues, discussed in Part IV.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mathis, Dr Kate
Authors: Mathis, K.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
Journal Name:Aiste
Publisher:Department of Celtic and Gaelic, University of Glasgow

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