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Indeed the line can never be drawn with absolute accuracy and it is possible that many pieces have been here included which may be considered neither songs nor lyrics, but the editor while hoping generally to please the scholarly and critical reader, desires also to gratify the larger public who will expect to find in such a collection, those verses which have endeared themselves to the hearts of the Irish people and which they would not willingly let die.

There is probably no body of poetry in the world which lends itself less readily to literary criticism and classification than that which has sprung froin the great heart of the Irish people. They have ever been, like the holy men of old, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. As a rule the poets of Ireland have appeared to care little for forms except those of rhyme and rhythm, --feeling dominating ever. There is little effect of the labor limce to be felt in the great body of Irish poetry; even in those polished and complicated verses, full of vowel rhymes and alliterations characteristic of the early writers in their native Irish some of which have been so felicitously rendered by Dr. Douglas Hyde, there is scarcely any sensation of the fetters of form. From the first Bard who told in burning and Homeric phrase the story of the fights of the Iberian Chiefs or of the grand stand which Brian Boru made against the Danish invasion, to the burning songs and ballads of the young Ireland

ers and to the love songs of Moore and the mystical imaginings of the poets of the modern revival, there is always a sense of spontaneousness left on the mind of the reader; action, sentiment and feeling have ever been the pulsating notes of Irish poetry as they have always been the dominant features of the Irish character, shaping and moulding the destinies of the race.

No collection of Irish songs and lyrics would be complete without some examples of the convivial songs, which had their vogue in the genial days of Lever, Lover and Moore. The fashion which gave them birth has passed away and there are many features of it which it would be well to forget, but it represents a distinct period in the national life and a character and spirit of the people which is as permanent as its hills and its valleys, its rivers and its bogs.

But no lengthy disquisition on the characteristics and history of Irish poetry need be attempted here. More competent authorities have dealt with the subject in its many and varied aspects and the poetry of Ireland by common consent now holds a high and distinguished place among the literatures of the world.

An anthology loses half its value unless it be also a work of ready reference, hence the plan has been adopted of arranging the contents of this volume alphabetically, according to the names of the authors and the translators from the Gaelic, anonymous poetry

finding a place in the alphabetical order under the title of Street Ballads, Hedge Songs and Anonymous verse.

For those who wish to study the groups into which Irish songs and lyrics naturally fall, the apparatus furnished at the end of the volume will be found readily practicable. The thousand and one gems of Irish poetry contained herein are classified in the indexes in such a manner that the student can easily find every group with which he may wish to acquaint himself. The folk songs, the Bardic songs, the love songs, the humorous and convivial songs and the sacred poetry, as well as many other minor subdivisions will be found in their places.

The translations from the Gaelic by different hands included in the volume are indexed under the names of their translators; and so far as the authorship is known, under the names of the writers; they are also indexed in the general group of Gaelic authors. A few translations of the same poems by different hands will be found as for example: “ The famous hills of Eire 0," of which no less than three different versions are given.

In garnering this collection the editor has had the advantage of the critical judgment of some of the foremost Irish scholars and poets among whom may be mentioned with grateful thanks : Dr. Douglas Hyde, Mr. Stephen Lucius Gwynn, Francis Joseph Bigger and D. J. O'Donoghue as well as some of the best

English and Irish scholars on this side of the Atlantic, and

among these thanks are especially due to Professor F. N. Robinson, who occupies the Celtic chair at Harvard University, Dr. Maurice F. Egan of the Catholic University in Washington, the Rev. C. P. Gavan, Messrs. John D. Crimmins, Patrick Ford, Eugene Geary, John J. Rooney, James Ryan, and S. J. Richardson.

CHARLES WELSH. Winthrop, Mass., June, 1906.

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