Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Smith, JB,Laoire, LO
2009
September
Folk Life
'The Silly Treun': An Odd Bird Identified
Published
()
Optional Fields
MacManus Donegal Folklore Corncrake Wren Wellerism
47
51
57
We proceed from Seumas MacManus's 1905 poem 'The Silly Treun', in which the Donegal poet portrays as risible the claim made by a treun alias corncrake that, as it lies on its back, it is holding up the sky with its feet. This narrative clearly has medieval predecessors, in which, however, the protagonist is always a wren. Linguistic evidence is presented for and against the view that it was MacManus himself who transmuted wren to corncrake. The relationship between the poem and wellerisms featuring wrens is also explored, as are French traditions in which wrens are portrayed as ridiculously vainglorious.
DOI 10.1179/175967009X422693
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