Irish literature exists in two languages. A dual approach is necessary if the tradition, with its historical, political and semantic tensions is to be understood and appreciated. This text presents the two traditions of Irish poetry – Gaelic and English – and their connections. Poetry is Ireland is presented from the earliest times to the present day, concentrating on periods of radical change: the coming of Christianity; Norman and later settlements; colonialism and dispossession; the end of the bardic period; politics before the Famine and in the 19th and 20th centuries. The book includes Yeats and Joyce and considers in detail the work of Austin Clarke, Patrick Kavanagh and Samuel Beckett.