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OLD-IRISH-L  June 2017

OLD-IRISH-L June 2017

Subject:

Re: Nath-bhairdne

From:

Neil McLeod <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 3 Jun 2017 22:16:48 +0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (24 lines)

On 01-Jun-17 11:21 PM, Tom Smith wrote:
 > The Ollamh Érenn was the only poet in ancient Ireland allowed to use the 
Nath-bhairdne

On 03-Jun-17 9:35 PM, Tom Smith wrote:
> Neil wrote- "It might be useful if you provided the reference to an Irish source that you are relying on in making that statement. It may be (a) very late and/or (b) misunderstood."
> 
> I was quoting from "Irish Poetry. An Essay in Irish with Translation in English and a Vocabulary", by Douglas Hyde, 1902 (online at- https://archive.org/details/filidheachtghaed00hyde). On page 67 he states-
> 
> "But if the number of species of bards which the Irish had is wonderful, more wonderful far is the number of metres, or measures, or verse-forms which they used to practise. But the most wonderful thing of all these is, that each particular bard of them had his own metre or verse-form for himself, and a bard of low standing would not be allowed to practise the form of versification which was owned by a bard of higher standing than he. The King-bard for example, used to use the
> Nath-bhairdne, i.e., the kind of poems called Nath. These are the forms of poetry in which the end of every line makes Uaim or Uaithne (that is alliteration or assonance) with the beginning of the following line, poems in which the number of the syllables in each line, and the number of hues in each verse are different and irregular. Amongst these Nath metres there are six kinds of the genus called Deachnadh, and the King-bard used to practise them all. Nobody else used them except
> himself! And he added to them two other honourable metres, Great and Little Séadhna. The Ansruth-bairdne used to use two kinds of the metres called Ollbhairdne (great poesy)."

That is a rather dated source, but in any event, Hyde is not talking here 
about the 'Ollam Érenn' at all. He is talking about 'bards', which he 
rightly describes as a lower class of versifiers who came beneath the 
grades of 'poet' (see p. 65).

> Eleanor Hull in "A Text-book of Irish Literature", 1906, p. 194 states much the same.(Online at- https://archive.org/details/textbookofirishl01hulliala).

Again, Hull draws a clear distinction between bards and poets. (No mere 
bard would be appointable to a position known as of 'Ollam Érenn'.)

Neil

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