Mittelirische Verslehren II

  • Middle Irish
  • verse, prose
  • Irish texts, Irish texts on language and literature

Middle Irish metrical tract which enumerates and illustrates various metrical forms to be mastered by a learned poet (file). The main body of the text is structured around the curriculum of a file in training, for whose benefit the textbook appears to have been compiled.

According to Thurneysen et al., three stages in the development of the text can be discerned:

  • The original text (lost), which may have belonged to the tenth century, would have covered seven years of a fili’s training (by analogy with the seven grades of filid).
  • When the text was first expanded, three more years were added between the sixth year (anruth) and seventh year (ollam). § 112 may recall this stage of the text when it refers to deich cerda comdire. The most substantial addition is the inclusion of MV I, which occupies §§ 32-90 in the modern edition.
  • The extant text, such as it survives in the manuscripts, represents a further redaction referring to twelve years of study. This augmented version has been dated to the eleventh century (Thurneysen). The added material now occurs for the 8th and 12th year of the curriculum.

    Other material, besides the core of the text, includes a preliminary section, §§ 110-112, and the concluding notes of §§ 131-137.

Mittelirische Verslehren II
This is the second Middle Irish Verslehre edited by Thurneysen. The main body of the text, sans the preliminary tract, is also known as Duodecim partes poeticae, after the title heading in Laud Misc. 610.
pp. 306a (line 43)–306b (line 10)
Related text, printed by Thurneysen in his appendix.
ff. 80r–80v and 90r–92v
Almost complete, except the beginning of the introduction and the conclusion
  • Middle Irish
10th century?
verse, prose (primary)
Contains poems
» See separate tab >>
Textual relationships
Related: Cóictach descipul foglaintidCóictach descipul foglaintid

Medieval Irish poem attributed to the Munster scholar Máel Suthain Úa Cerbaill (d. 1010), dealing with the ecclesiastical and secular grades.

Irish tract on the seven grades of poets (TCD MS 1316)Irish tract on the seven grades of poets (TCD MS 1316)

An Irish legal tract on the seven grades of poets (filid). It is one of several prose and verse texts on the subject that ultimately derive from the Uraicecht becc.

Associated items
Adram in CoimdidAdram in Coimdid

Old Irish quatrain preserved as a citation in the compilation Mittelirischen Verslehren II, here as an example of breccbairdne.

Cethri srotha déc éicsiCethri srotha déc éicsiColum caid cumachtachColum caid cumachtachPrayer (5st in ochtfhoclach metre) for Colum Cille attributed to Cainnech.
Mo chara-sa CnámíneMo chara-sa CnámínePoem cited as an example by Mittelirische Verslehren II.Núall Fir FhioNúall Fir FhioTrí Dé DonandTrí Dé Donand


Irish textsIrish texts

Irish texts on language and literatureIrish texts on language and literature

Work in progress

Preliminary on the 16 parts of filidecht » entry

Duodecim partes poeticae

§ 1. » entry

§§ 2-8. Year 1. » entry

§§ 9-11. Year 2. » entry

§§ 12-17. Year 3. » entry

§§ 18-20. Year 4. » entry

§§ 21-24. Year 5. » entry

§§ 25-31. Year 6. » entry

§§ 32-90. Year 7 (version of MV I) » entry

§§ 91-94. Year 8. » entry

§§ 95-98. Year 9. » entry

§§ 99-109. Year 10. + §§ 110-112 » entry

§§ 113-120. Year 11. » entry

§§ 121-130. Year 12. » entry


§ 131 » entry

§§ 132-137 » entry


This table is intended as a visual aid to Thurneysen's outline of the development of the text. The first column shows the traditional graded scheme, in which every grade of poet, from fochloc up to ollam, is associated with a particular metrical form proper to each. It is here used to represent the scheme thought to underlie the original, tenth-century textbook. The second column then gives the ten curricular divisions as they would have appeared in the first redaction of MV II, with the names of the forms (plural) adopted from § 112. Finally, the third column represents the extant redaction, with two more years added to arrive at a total of 12 years.

7 grades/years 10 years 12 years
(1) dían (fochloc) (1) díana (1) díana
(2) setrad/-nad / sainemain (macfuirmid) (2) setrotha (2) setrotha
(3) laíd (dos) (3) laída (3) laída
(4) emain (cano) (4) emna (4) emna
(5) anair (clí) (5) anairi (5) anairi
(6) nath (ánruth) (6) natha anruith (6) natha anruith
  (7) brosnacha suad (MV I) (7*) brosnacha suad (MV I)
    (8**) feschomarca filed
  (8) fochairich admolta (9*) fochairich admolta
  (9) setnatha suad (10*) setnatha suad
(7) anamain (ollam) (10) anamna ollaman (11) anamna ollaman
    (12**) rochetla


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] Thurneysen, Rudolf [ed.], “Mittelirische Verslehren”, in: Ernst Windisch, and Whitley Stokes [eds.], Irische Texte mit Wörterbuch, 4 vols, vol. 3, Leipzig, 1891. 1–182.  
comments: An index of verse metries and initial lines of verse is provided at the end of this contribution.
Internet Archive: <link>
29–66 direct link

Secondary sources (select)

Breatnach, Pádraig A., “The metres of citations in the Irish grammatical tracts”, Éigse 32 (2000): 7–22.
Campanile, Enrico, “Mittelirische Verslehren II, 96-98”, Studi e Saggi Linguistici 6 (1966): 160–165.
Ó hAodha, Donncha, “The first Middle Irish metrical tract”, in: Hildegard L. C. Tristram (ed.), Metrik und Medienwechsel / Metrics and media, 35, Tübingen: Narr, 1991. 207–244.
Breatnach, Liam [ed. and tr.], Uraicecht na ríar: the poetic grades in early Irish law, Early Irish Law Series, 2, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1987.
Thurneysen, Rudolf [ed.], “Mittelirische Verslehren”, in: Ernst Windisch, and Whitley Stokes [eds.], Irische Texte mit Wörterbuch, 4 vols, vol. 3, Leipzig, 1891. 1–182.  
comments: An index of verse metries and initial lines of verse is provided at the end of this contribution.
Internet Archive: <link>
110–123; 161–166 direct link direct link
Tranter, Stephen N., Clavis metrica: Háttatal, Háttalykill and the Irish metrical tracts, Beiträge zur nordischen Philologie, 25, Basel: Helbing and Lichtenhahn, 1997.
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June 2011, last updated: January 2024