1918 - Reincarnations

Geoffrey Keating
Mary Hynes
The Coolun
Peggy Mitchell
Nancy Walsh
The Red Man's Wife
Nancy Walsh
Anthony O'Daly
Mary Ruane
William O'Kelly
Sean O'Cosgair
The County Mayo
Eileen, Diarmuid And Teig
Honoro Butler And Lord Kenmare (1720)
Clann Cartie
The Land Of Fal
Inis Fal
Owen O'Neill
Egan O'Rahilly
Righteous Anger
The Weaver
The Apology
The Gang
The Geraldine's Cloak
Blue Blood
Here is a review from 1918 I found online.
Review by: Alice Corbin Henderson
Poetry, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Dec., 1918), pp. 161-164
Published by: Poetry Foundation
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20571943

Reincarnations is a book of translations, or rather adaptations, from Irish writers of from one hundred to three hundred years ago - Keating, O'Bruadair, O'Rahilly, Raftery and others. The poems number about thirty, and in them the poets sing chiefly of such eternal themes as love, the beauty of woman, old times gone, and the poet's poverty - very much indeed of the poet's poverty. Apropos of the fact that poetry is now classed as an essential industry although nothing is said of a minimum wage for poets! it is perhaps pertinent to quote this from The Apology:

Often enough I trudge by hedge and wall.
Too often there's no money in my purse,
Nor malice in my mind ever at all.
And for my songs no person is the worse

But I who give all of my store to all.
If busybody spoke to you of it,
Say, kindly man, if kindly man do live,
The poet only takes his sup and bit;
And say, It is no great return to give
For his unstinted gift of verse and wit.

Mr Stephens says in his Note, which is really a preface although inconspicuously placed at the back of the book an undemagogical proceeding which one wishes more poets would follow: "They all sing of their poverty: Keating as a fact to be recorded among other facts, O'Rahilly in a very stately and bitter complaint, and Raftery as in" [the familiar "Behold me now, with my back to the wall, playing music to empty pockets"]; "but O'Bruadair lets out of him an unending, rebellious bawl which would be the most desolating utterance ever made by man if it was not also the most gleeful."
Here is O'Bruadair's Righteous Anger:

The lanky hank of a she in the inn over there
Nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer:
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair,
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year!

That parboiled imp, with hardest jaw you will see
On virtue's path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
Came roaring and raging the minute she looked at me,
And threw me out of the house on the back of my head!

If I asked her master he'd give me a cask a day;
But she, with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten, and may
The High King of Glory permit her to get the mange.

This has an eloquence that ought to console any poet for the lack of a more cumbersome endorsement of this world's goods. At least the poet has what others have not, he has his vision; and if he is twice-blessed, as these Irish poets are, he has his wit. And certainly James Stephens is twice blessed in this respect! Reincarnations is a book for poets. There is much in it that they will most appreciate. One would like to quote some of the poems in praise of women, Nancy Walsh, or Mary Hynes from Raftery; and Sean O'Cosgair is a remarkable little poem about a young man who was drowned. But the best thing after all is to own the small book for oneself.          A.C.H.

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