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The Well of the Saints

J. M. Synge

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .trusting the holy water with the likes of you?

MOLLY BYRNE. He was afeard to go a far way with the clouds is coming beyond, so he's gone up now through the thick woods to say a prayer at the crosses of Grianan, and he's coming on this road to the church.

TIMMY — [still astonished.] — And he's after leaving the holy water with the two of you? It's a wonder, surely. [Comes down left a little.]

MOLLY BYRNE. The lads told him no person could carry them things through the briars, and steep, slippy-feeling rocks he'll be climbing above, so he looked round then, and gave the water, and his big cloak, and his bell to the two of us, for young girls, says he, are the cleanest holy people you'd see walking the world. [Mary Doul goes near seat.]

MARY DOUL — [sits down, laughing to herself.] — Well, the Saint's a simple fellow, and it's no lie.

MARTIN DOUL — [leaning forward, holding out his hands.] &m. . . Read More

Community Reviews

An amazing selection of one if Ireland's greatest dramatist work

What Synge managed to do was ‘translate’ the Gaelic spoken in Western Ireland in his time into a distinctive and poetic-sounding medium for drama. What he did not manage to do was write great plays. The early works such as the title piece have an austere beauty, like a medieval mystery play, but are

Mulligan has this great gag in ‘Scylla and Charybdis’:
—Shakespeare? he said. I seem to know the name. [...] To be sure, he said, remembering brightly. The chap that writes like Synge.
And a couple of pages later, Mulligan’s mocking mimicry:
—And we to be there, mavrone, and you to be unbeknownst sendi

In 'Deirdre of the Sorrows', Synge has the eponymous Deirdre claim that 'It is not a small thing to be rid of grey hairs and the loosening of the teeth'. Clearly, for Synge, it's a huge asset, and I finished reading his collection of plays almost relieved for his sake that he died young. He has an a

Once, when midnight smote the air,
Eunuchs ran through Hell and met
On every crowded street to stare
Upon great Juan riding by:
Even like these to rail and sweat
Staring upon his sinewy thigh.

So Yeats says "On Those that hated 'The Playboy of the Western World,' 1907," by which it appears that if we

"A vile and inhuman story told in the foulest language" was one verdict* on The Playboy of the Western World; "an unmitigated, protracted libel upon Irish peasant men, and worse still upon Irish girlhood" was another.** Synge's most famous play was, it seems, not the only one to attract condemnation

The Playboy of the Western World, Deirdre of the Sorrows, and Riders to the Sea are some of the finest twentieth century plays that I have ever read. Collectively, they demonstrate the plasticity of J. M. Synge as a playwright, for each represents a distinct sort of drama. Playboy is a three-act mag

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