Mittelirische Verslehren III

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

A Middle Irish metrical tract intended to enumerate and illustrate various metrical types, both common and uncommon.

Mittelirische Verslehren III
This is the third Verslehre edited by Thurneysen in his edition of four Mittelirische Verslehren .
  • Middle Irish
c. 1016.(1)n. 1 Rudolf Thurneysen, Zu irischen Handschriften und Litteraturdenkmälern [I] (1912): 86–89.
prose, verse (primary)
Textual relationships
Related: Irish tract on poetry (TCD 1337 fragment)Irish tract on poetry (TCD 1337 fragment)

Two fragments of what may have been a single Irish tract on poets and poetry, preserved on a fragment of vellum in TCD 1337 (p. 869).

Associated items
Brigit búadachBrigit búadach

Two stanzas of an Old Irish poem in praise of St Brigit of Kildare. The stanzas are quoted, possibly from a longer poem which no longer survives, in the tract on versification known as Mittelirische Verslehren III and a short, closely related one in the Book of Leinster.

Int én becInt én becRo-cúala ní tabair eochu ar dúanaRo-cúala ní tabair eochu ar dúana


Irish textsIrish texts

Irish texts on language and literatureIrish texts on language and literature

Tract on metricsTract on metrics

Work in progress

Contents will be given in separate entries. The classification into four grades of metrical forms, ranging from common to obscure, follows that discussed by Roisin McLaughlin, ‘Metres in Mittelirische Verslehren III’, Ériu 55 (2005).

1. gnáthaisti (§§ 2-127)

Common metres.

2. gnátha medónda (§§ 128-147)

known metres

3. anaichinti (§§ 148-166)

unfamiliar metrical forms

4. écoitchenna (§§ 167-210)

uncommon metrical forms



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.] [tr.] McLaughlin, Roisín, “A critical edition of Mittelirische Verslehren III”, unpublished ph.D. thesis, Trinity College, Dublin, 2007.  
This thesis consists of a critical edition and translation of a Middle Irish metrical tract known as Mittelirische Verslehren III (hereafter MV III). The tract is an important source of information on rhyming syllabic verse in the Middle Irish period. It consists of two hundred and nine stanzas which illustrate various types of metres, ranging from common metres to more complex metrical forms, many of which are not represented in the standard works of reference. The metres are classified into four sections as gnáthaisti ‘common metres’ (§§2-127), gnátha medónda ‘moderately well-known’ (§§128-47), anaichinti ‘unfamiliar’ (§§148-66) and écoitchenna ‘uncommon’ (§§167-210). The stanzas cited as illustrations cover a wide range of subject matter, including panegyric, satiric, religious and topographical material. At present, the text is available only in a diplomatic edition by Rudolf Thurneysen (1891, 1-182). This is based on two manuscripts: Royal Irish Academy MS 23 P 12 (the Book of Ballymote) and TCD MS H.2.12. He subsequently published (1912, 60- 72) a selection of readings from RIA MS D ii 1 (the Book of Uí Maine). Two further manuscript witnesses of the text were not available to Thurneysen. These are National Library of Scotland Gaelic MS 1 (Advocates 72.1.1) and National Library of Ireland MS G 3, both of which contain important variant readings. – PDF: <link>
[ed.] [tr.] McLaughlin, Roisin, Early Irish satire, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2008. 300 pp.
An edition and translation of the satires in the text, with manuscript readings and critical apparatus.
[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>
Edition wanted
A new edition by Roisin McLaughlin is forthcoming.

Secondary sources (select)

McLaughlin, Roisin, Early Irish satire, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2008. 300 pp.
McLaughlin, Roisin, “Metres in Mittelirische Verslehren III”, Ériu 55 (2005): 119–136.
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.
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
June 2011, last updated: January 2024