Writing Out of Doors

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"Writing out of Doors"

Early Ninth Century


Found in the margin of Priscian's treatise on Latin grammar from the monastery of St. Gall near Lake Constance, Switzerland, together with the poem entitled "The Vikings," this work describes the Irish monk/scribe writing a poem under the trees. The manuscript in which these poems occur was probably copied in a Leinster monastery and brought to the continent by Irish monks in approximately 848.

SEE ALSO Early Medieval Ireland and Christianity; Literature: Early and Medieval Literature

A wall of forest looms above
and sweetly the blackbird sings;
all the birds make melody
over me and my books and things.

There sings to me the cuckoo
from bush-citadels in grey hood.

God's doom! May the Lord protect me
writing well, under the great wood.

Medieval Irish Lyrics with the Irish Bardic Poet, translated by James Carney (1967), p. 23.