Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Fairy Tales

We love fairy tales in this house (well, maybe not Henry so much).  So it should come as no surprise that we have a good collection of fairy tale books.  I even have them divided on the bookshelves based on region- French ones, English ones, Scandinavian, etc...  Here are our Irish ones, just in time for some Saint Patrick's day reading. 

Joseph Jacobs was a folklorist (among other things) who collected the folk and fairy stories of the British Isles in the late 1800's. We have two cheap Dover editions that share a couple of the same stories but the illustrations are different in each. 

Joseph Jacobs
illustrated by John D. Batten 1968

Joseph Jacobs
illustrated by Thea Kliros 1994

The Irish Fairy Book contains stories and poems by the likes of W.B. Yeats, Patrick Kennedy, Alfred Tennyson, Douglas Hyde, and Samuel Lover.  In the preface Alfred Perceval Graves writes, "The truth is that the Gaelic peasant, Scotch and Irish, is a mystic, and believes not only in this world, and the world to come, but in that other world which is the world of Faery, and which exercises an extraordinary influence upon many actions of his life."

Alfred Perceval Graves
illustrated by George Denham

Fairy and Folk Tales of Ireland was first published in the late 1800's as two books and is a collection of stories sought out by W.B. Yeats.

These folktales are full of simplicity and musical occurrences for they are the literature of a class for whom every incident in the old rut of birth, love, pain and death has cropped up unchanged for centuries:  who have steeped everything in the heart; to whom everything is a symbol.

W.B. Yeats

Away with us, he's going,
The solemn-eyed;
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hill-side.
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast;
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the woods and waters wild,
With a fairy hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than
he can understand.

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