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Icham of Irlaunde -- Anonymous

In honour of St. Patrick's Day...
(Poem #372) Icham of Irlaunde
   Icham of Irlaunde
   Ant of the holy londe
   Of Irlande.

Gode sire, pray ich the,
For of saynte charite,
Come ant daunce wyt me
In Irlaunde.
-- Anonymous
Brittanica has this to say about the lyric, of which today's poem is an
example:

The lyric was virtually unknown to Old English poets: poems like "Deor"
and "Wulf and Eadwacer," which have been called lyrics, are thematically
different from those that began to circulate orally in the 12th century
and to be written down in great numbers in the 13th; and these Old
English poems have a stronger narrative component than the later
productions. The most frequent topics in the Middle English secular
lyric are springtime and romantic love; many rework such themes
tediously, but some, such as "Foweles in the frith" (13th century) and
"Ich am of Irlaunde" (14th century), convey strong emotions in a few
lines. Two lyrics of the early 13th century, "Mirie it is while sumer
ilast" and "Sumer is icumen in," are preserved with musical settings,
and probably most of the others were meant to be sung. The dominant mood
of the religious lyrics is passionate: the poets sorrow for Christ on
the Cross and for Mary, celebrate the "five joys" of Mary, and import
language from love poetry to express religious devotion. Excellent early
examples are "Nou goth sonne under wod" and "Stond wel, moder, ounder
rode." Many of the lyrics are preserved in manuscript anthologies, of
which the best is British Library manuscript Harley 2253 from the early
14th century. The love poems in this collection, such as "Alysoun" and
"Blow, Northerne Wynd," take after the poems of the Proven├žal
troubadours but are less formal and abstract and therefore more lively.
The religious lyrics also are of high quality; but the most remarkable
of the Harley Lyrics, "The Man in the Moon," far from being about love
or religion, imagines the man in the Moon as a simple peasant,
sympathizes with his hard life, and offers him some useful advice on how
to best the village hayward.

        -- EB

The key phrase in the above is that the best lyrics 'convey strong
emotions in a few lines'. Indeed, that's especially true of today's poem
- it's exceptionally simple and direct, and wonderfully moving.

thomas.

[In Modern English]

   I am of Ireland
   And of the holy land
   Of Ireland.

Good sir, I pray thee,
For the sake of charity,
Come and dance with me
In Ireland.

[Links]

Around this time last year we ran Sir Henry Newbolt's poignant 'Ireland,
Ireland', archived at poem #41

'Pangur Ban' always calls up some beautiful associations in my mind; you
can read it at poem #167

'The Viking Terror' is a perfect example of the 'Northern' poetic
tradition; in this case, alliterative verse. It's archived at poem #109

And finally, you might as well pay a visit to
http://www.st-patricks-day.com/

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