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Introduction. xix.
II.— THE MODERN POETS.
As the fall of the MacDoinalds was the rise of the
smaller clans whom they had overshadowed, so the
decay of the professional poets pro'ved the beginning of
a new and brilHant school of untrained bards. Modern
GaeUc poetry, as we know it, starts from, about 1600;
ìts most fruitful period is froni 1640 to about 1830, a
period truly remarkable for the number of composers
and the quantity and excellence of their output. There
has never, perhaps, been a finer manifestation of
national genius than was given by Gaelic Scotland in
those two centuries. The poets of the new school were
bom, not made : they sang because they must sing, and
they sang of things in which they were keenly interested.
Their poetry is spontaneo'us ; it has the notes of freedom,
freshness, sincerity. It has great beauty of form, and
the style is direct and clear. There is, besides, the
charm of the language itself, so copious, so flexible, and
so adequate, possessing also a vocalic system difficult
to match for compass and melody. The po-etry needs
careful study before it can be fully appreciated.
Knowledge of the language comes, of coui'se, first, but
one has to become familiar with the mental attitude
of the poets, their historic background, and their
standards of value. These are among the things that
go to make them Gaelic poets, and they are very
•different from what Enghsh-speaking people of the
present day are accustomed to. In fact, the poets' out-
look on things and the quahties that appealed to them
— race, physical beauty, manly accomplishments, free-
lianded generosity, wisdom in council — are more akin
to what is found in Homer and Pindar. They

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