Forgotten Beauty: Irish Love Poetry Across the Centuries

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Forgotten Beauty is an anthology of Irish love poetry from over fifteen hundred years of Irish writing, presenting the work of famous and lesser known writers. The poems express the loves and longings of Irish poets in language that is at once beautiful, evocative, passionate and deeply meaningful. If there is a continuity in Irish love poetry over the centuries, it lies in the sheer complexity of the writers’ approach to the subject: loving and leaving, wooing and wishing, finding love or falling out of love.

In the nine sections of the anthology, each arranged chronologically, the poets’ engagement with their lovers are charted across all the ups and downs of human relations with wit and compassion. Beginning with Dialogues, in which the individual couples’ voices are heard speaking of their passions, the poets wrestle through the pangs of Love Declared and Love Denied. The erotic is found in Eros, while Youth and Age are areas of conflict for lovers. The closeness of belonging is found in Relationships, confirmed and developed in Domestic Love. Troubled Love redraws the battleground of emotional intensity and, finally, Dead Loves mourns lost loved ones.

The Irish artists whose paintings accompany the poems are drawn from the seventeenth century to the present. Their work expands on, confirms or contrasts in various ways with the poems, creating dynamic exchanges between poet and painter. Both in their various ways celebrate the human emotions and relish the beauty and truth to be found in the meeting of the visual image with the written word.