This anthology demonstrates that verse translation from the Irish represents, in its own right, a significant part of the tradition of Irish poetry written in English. Rather than offering the usual view of verse translation as a means of preserving and providing access to poetry written in Irish, this anthology foregrounds the aesthetic and cultural value of verse translation as poetry. The anthology is historical in form, beginning with a translation done in 1635, and concluding with the work of contemporary poets. The translations are grouped by individual translators, and arranged into five sections: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Nineteenth Century, Irish Literary Revival, Modern Ireland and Contemporary Ireland. Each translator is introduced with a headnote and each translation is fully annotated and accompanied by the original text in Irish and a literal translation of it into English.
The anthology includes a critical introduction which offers a concise but remarkably wide-ranging account of Irish poetry over the past three centuries, drawing attention to the relevant cultural and political circumstances from which it was wrought, with colonial and postcolonial issues particularly in mind. While at the same time the introduction gives careful and illuminating consideration to verse forms and other technical concerns. There is a strong sense of persistent cultural endeavour that gives coherence to a large group of writers and translators from diverse social, religious and political backgrounds. The anthology provides a great service to scholars working in the field of modern Irish literature by bringing together some of the well-known works of seminal poets and translators such as James Clarence Mangan and Samuel Ferguson together with literal translations of the originals on which their writings were based. In this respect, the anthology opens up a vivid and revealing perspective, allowing readers a privileged insight into the creative methods of some of Ireland's leading authors and cultural architects. A comprehensive bibliography of primary sources concludes the book.