- Feb 2018
'I have compiled this selection out of many hundreds of songs of the same kind which I have either heard or read, for, indeed, the productiveness of the Irish Muse, as long as we spoke Irish, was unbounded.' (vi) This point in Hyde’s preface to Love Songs of Connacht is relevant to two questions that my M.A. thesis preparation is concerned with.
● What are the ways that works of the Irish Revival period express the idea that a natural cultural inheritance might be recuperated through art?
● What are the reasons for such works to treat of rural folkways as a repository of essentially native identity?
Hyde illustrates that an awareness of the significance of the Irish language within a revivalist milieu will be required for informed discussion of the questions stated above.
Proper-noun naming of an ‘Irish Muse’ suggest that there is such a thing as some essential indigenous genius, which lies in wait of stimulation. An idea of the Irish language emerges whereby it is connected intimately with a native genius, and holds inherent power to spark creativity.
Of course, this line of argument proffers Hyde’s translations – through their close linkage with the Irish language – as stimuli for new artistic production. It works well as a way of turning Hyde’s skill as a linguist into a selling point for his book.
In so doing, it highlights that a perceived inter-connection between language and an essentially native worldview was a major part of the book’s appeal. The representation of that connection in this and other works becomes important to my first research question as a result. An implication for my second research question is that I should consider the Irish language as a key part of the symbolic importance which attached to rural populations.