- Feb 2018
"I have, in the following little volume, collected a few of these, the Love-Songs of a single province merely, which I either took down in each county of Connacht from the lips of the Irish-speaking peasantry - a class which is disappearing with most alarming rapidity - or extracted from MSS, in my own possession, or from some lent to me, made by different scribes during this century, or which I came upon while examining the piles of modern manuscript Gaelic literature that have found their last resting-place on the shelves of the Royal Irish Academy." (iv)
The way Hyde makes reference to sources is casual and non-specific. It would be difficult for a reader to access his sources. Because we have such little insight, it is important to be alert to potential biases in the collecting and editing process.
If we can identify consistencies among the anthologized songs in terms of their depiction of love and lovers, and/or among songs which are excluded from the anthology, we will have reason to regard the very partial disclosure of sources with suspicion.
As I have already noted, part of Hyde’s project is to bring the reader into contact with language which has an ‘unbounded’ power to excite the Irish Muse. Perhaps part of the way he contrives this encounter is to control the kind of subject matter that will appear to the reader as that which occurs most naturally in the Irish language.