Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Wit and Wisdom of Irish Writers

It’s St. Patrick’s Day; which means that where I live it’s time for green beer, green frosted cookies, and green-dyed carnations; all colorfully commemorating the Emerald Isle and her patron saint who supposedly shooed away serpents from her shores, and held up the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity.

Whatever else may or may not be true, the fabled Irish silver tongue manifests itself in its gifted writers – in their sparkling wit, poetic imagination, and profound contributions to Literature.

“When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” - Jonathan Swift
Here, we have the title origin of John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel.

“This wallpaper is dreadful; one of us will have to go.” - Oscar Wilde
These were supposedly Wilde’s last words.

“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” - George Bernard Shaw
Eccentric, but holding true to his convictions, Shaw left a sizeable amount of his estate to the creation of a new alphabet.

“When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.” - James Joyce
From Joyce’s opus “Ulysses”

“An aged man is but a paltry thing,
 A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing.”
-          - William Butler Yeats

Cormac McCarthy took the title for his book, “No County for Old Men” from the first line of this poem.

“I want you to believe…to believe in things you cannot.” - Bram Stoker
From ‘Dracula’

 “I think being a woman is like being Irish…Everyone says you are important and nice, but you take second place all the time.” – Iris Murdoch
Murdoch won the Booker Prize in 1978 for ‘The Sea, The Sea’.

 “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” - Samuel Beckett
From ‘Worstward Ho’

“I can’t think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people’s understanding of what’s going on in the world.” - Seamus Heaney
Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.

“There’s no possibility of being witty without a little ill-nature.” - Richard Sheridan
Sheridan, this very witty poet and playwright is remembered most for his plays, ‘The Rivals’ and ‘The School for Scandal’. 

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