By Glenda Norquay, Gerry Smyth
Around the Margins deals a comparative, theoretically proficient research of the cultural formation of the Atlantic Archipelago. In its total perception and in particular contributions, this assortment demonstrates the advantages of operating around the disciplines of historical past, geography, literature, and cultural stories. It additionally provides new configurations of cultural types hitherto linked to in particular nationwide and sub-national literatures.
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Additional resources for Across The Margins: Cultural Identity and Change in the Atlantic Archipelago
But enough of Irish poets – what about the Scots? And is there something about the profession of poetry in Ireland that rules out the working class in a way that this form of literary expression does not exclude speakers of the middle tongue in Scotland? Ireland, verses, Scotland. But let us build bridges, for if there is a different attitude to the middle tongue in the two countries, then at the level of content and theme there is much to be gained from close comparative reading. Irish and Scottish poets share the loss of a native language, the loss of land that accompanies the loss of language, the gap that opens up between fathers and sons and mothers and daughters as older forms of expression yield underfoot to more anglicised modes, the pain of exile, anger, hunger, and uprooting.
The translation (in English, not Scots) closes with these lines: all it asks is to clamber, like the goats, on sharp rocky pinnacles, above the blue sea. Until the ragged children carry it away with them on the steamer to England, or to Glasgow, where it dies in its sister’s arms – the royal language of Scotland and of Ireland become a sacrifice of atonement on the altar of riches. (Dunn 1992: 219) A double sore heart – betrayal and sacrifice – but atonement too, as two countries marginalised by England express themselves in three languages, with one eye on England, the other on America – two countries that have been rooted out of Europe by the British state, that have avoided making eye-contact with one another, yet compatible and comparable in so many ways.
Sticking with Longley (who is a wonderful close reader of poetry and a marvellous polemicist), she takes issue with Tom Paulin’s call for writing in Ireland’s ‘three fully-fledged languages – Irish, Ulster Scots and Irish English’ (Paulin 1984: 191). Paulin’s look at the language question throws back a marginal mirror image: Many words which now appear simply gnarled, or which ‘make strange’ or seem opaque to most readers would be released into the shaped flow of a new public language. Thus in Ireland there would exist three fullyfledged languages – Irish, Ulster Scots and Irish English.