Poetics and Polemics presents new readings of a collection of seventeenth-century polemical poems composed in Irish by authors about whom almost nothing is known, and to whom no other works are securely ascribed. The poems in the book are those edited by Cecile O'Rahilly in 1652 (Five Seventeenth-Century Political Poems), whose editions have not been challenged or superceded. In Poetics and Polemics, explication of the poems is preceeded by an introductory chapter of historical background. Each poem is assigned a full chapter in which a close reading of the poem ? literary, political, and polemical ? is presented. Full literal translations to English are offered in the case of each poem in Appendices.Poetics and Polemics is about the polemical presentation of Irish history in five ballad-style poems in Irish in the period c. 1630?1660. The five poems in question have achieved an iconic status as the ''voice'' of the Gaelic Irish in the turbulent mid-century. The book interrogates each element of the poems in the contemporary context, using literary, devotional, official documentation, and polemical sources in Irish, English, Latin and French, where relevant. Poetics and Polemics presents readings of the poems as literary works, and also as works of contemporary polemic engagement, participating in the vital, vigorous, and multilingual debates of the day. It examines the religious and political loyalties expressed in the poems; it queries the single voice allotted to them. The close readings reveal works that share genre and style essentials, but express, within those constraints, all the nuances, varieties of allegiance, and fractured and tortuous loyalties, that characterized that febrile and convulsed century. Poetics and Polemics completes Professor O Riordan's suite of three works, examining Irish poetry within its genre and historical contexts ? The Gaelic Mind and the Collapse of the Gaelic World (Cork University Press, 1994) and Irish Bardic Poetry and Rhetorical Reality (Cork University Press, 2007) being the other two. Poetics and Polemics re-establishes the multivalent voices subsisting in the mid-century poems, and returns agency and art to their shadowy authors.