DEAR WHIT BURNETT,
I am not sure what sort of comment I am expected to make on these poems; I suppose it should be about the influences that went to shaping them. I was already, in my twenties, connected with the Irish Theatre (the embryonic Irish Theatre) when I began to write the poems that are in my first book, Wild Earth. This gave them a dramatic cast; my early verse took the form of dramatic lyrics. I was a very enthusiastic member of the Gaelic League whose object was the re-creation of a native culture. This gave me a bent towards folk-song, the language and rhythm of which (I am speaking now of the songs in English) I tried to reproduce. Learning Irish I was fascinated by the wonderful examples of West of Ireland folk-songs in Gaelic given in Douglas Hyde's Love Songs of Connacht. These are simple poems that nevertheless are as finely wrought and as poignant as any in the world's great literature. They gave me an idea of the directness and simplicity one might get into poetry. One of the poems given here, "I Shall Not Die For Thee"is translated from one in the Connacht Songs. It is not a folk-song, however, but a poem made by an aristocrat working in the bardic tradition and influenced as many Irish aristocratic poets of the fifteenth century as did the French poetry of the Courts of Love.
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Publication information: Book title: 105 Greatest Living Authors Present the World's Best Stories, Humor, Drama, Biography, History, Essays, Poetry. Contributors: Whit Burnett - Editor. Publisher: Dial Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1950. Page number: 618.
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