For most of his life Michael Hartnett forded the languages and cultures of places and ages. He completed his acclaimed version of the sixth-century Tao when he was 21.
Translations assembles many such elusive pieces – from Irish (Old, Middle and Modern), German, Chinese, Latin, Latvian and Spanish. Among its riches are ‘The Hag of Beare’, shorter Irish songs and lyrics, the Gypsy Ballads, and poems by contemporary writers, several of them uncollected. A bonus of the book is its presentation for the first time of the works with which this belovèd poet was preoccupied in his final years – by Heinrich Heine and a large selection of lyrics by Catullus.
This volume complements his five collections of translations (of O Bruadair, Haicéad, O Rathaille, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and his own poems in Irish). It reveals the range of a special mind and makes abundantly clear other facets of a cherished contributor to twentieth-century literature.
‘Michael Hartnett’s Translations edited by Peter Fallon is an important contribution to a fuller understanding of Hartnett as poet. The writer that emerges from this collection is a poet who is clearly situated in and influenced by the tradition of Poundian modernism with occasional nods in the direction of Lowellian imitation. The original languages of translation include Chinese, German, Old, Middle and Modern Irish, Latin, Latvian and Spanish . . . By displaying the breadth of Hartnett’ s linguistic interests, Translations complicates the image of Hartnett as a sui generis native scholar-poet uniquely preoccupied with the internal linguistic traditions and tensions of this island. — Michael Cronin, Poetry Ireland Review