I pity the man who must witness the fate of himself . . .
The themes and tones of Michael Hartnett’s A Farewell to English (1975) harmonised so precisely with the anger and desperation of Daibhí O Bruadair (c.1623-1698) that they conferred on Hartnett the ‘right’ to translate his selected poems.
In this collection Michael Hartnett relays the complete scope of O Bruadair’s attitudes and subject matter. Sometimes lyrical, sometimes charged with spleen, the poems range from the epigrammatic to the prolix. They include laments, both personal and communal. ‘Death’s the theme of all my writing’ – the death of specific patrons and learned men and, above all, of an entire national culture.
Michael Hartnett’s introduction admits his obsession with, in Peter Sirr’s description, the ‘laureate of disenchantment cast adrift in an Ireland he no longer recognised’. With his Haicéad and O Rathaille, O Bruadair completes the re-possession of a trilogy of essential Irish texts.