The dark cave and the devine light : verses on the human condition by Giolla Brighde Ó hEódhasa
Ó Corráin, Ailbhe
The aims of this libellus are essentially threefold. In its latter part, I wish to provide a critique of Giolla Brighde Ó hEódhasa's Truagh cor chloinne hÁdhaimh, a poem which casts light on the philosophical and psychological assumptions of its age and offers fascinating insights into the author's compositional and translational techniques. The poem offers a rendering of a Latin original that belongs to the genre known as Contemptus Mundi or 'Contempt for the world', in the Irish tradition Tarcaisne an tSaoghail. It is, moreover, a piece that demonstrates Giolla Brighde's unsurpassed ability to render the spirit of an original with remarkable compression, combining fidelity of rendition with, when necessary, a degree of judicious licence.
Before doing so, however, I wish to elucidate the moral and intellectual context of that poem by bringing into focus pertinent sections of Truagh liomsa, a chompáin, do chor, another of Giolla Brighde's poems which, with a total of ninety verses, is rather too lengthy for close exposition here; the principal connection between these two poems being the combined light they shed on Northern Renaissance views of the human condition.
The overall purpose of the work is, I should add, to explore the extent to which the mind of this Irish poet was moulded by the philosophical thinking of his age.