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Brian Merriman

Brian Merriman was born around the year 1747 in Ireland, likely in County Clare, and grew up near the village of Feakle. A poet and a teacher, he taught at various schools around Feakle and served as a private tutor for local families. Merriman is known for his poem “Cúirt an Mhéan Oiche,” published in English as The Midnight Court (M. Fridberg, 1945). Many notable poets, including Seamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson, have published partial or complete translations of The Midnight Court, which is written in the form of an aisling, or vision poem. Merriman died in Limick City in July of 1805.

By This Poet

1

The Midnight Court [Twas my custom to stroll]

’TWAS MY CUSTOM to stroll by a clear winding stream,
With my boots full of dew from the lush meadow green,
Near a neck of the woods where the mountain holds sway,
Without danger or fear at the dawn of the day.
The sight of Lough Graney would dazzle my eyes,
As the countryside sparkled beneath the blue skies;
Uplifting to see how the mountains were stacked,
Each head peeping over a neighbouring back.
It would lighten the heart, be it listless with age,
Enfeebled by folly, or cardiac rage—
Your wherewithal racked by financial disease—
To perceive through a gap in the wood full of trees
A squadron of ducks in a shimmering bay,
Escorting the swan on her elegant way,
The trout on the rise with its mouth to the light,
While the perch swims below like a speckledy sprite,
And the billows of blue become foam as they break
With a thunderous crash on the shores of the lake,
And the birds in the trees whistle bird-songs galore,
The deer gallop lightly through woods dark as yore,
Where trumpeting huntsmen and hounds of the hunt
Chase the shadow of Reynard, who leads from the front.