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The Playboy of the Western World - J. M. Synge

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THE PLAYBOY OF THE
WESTERN WORLD

A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS
By J. M. SYNGE

PREFACE

In writing THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD, as in my other plays, I have used
one or two words only that I have not heard among the country people of
Ireland, or spoken in my own nursery before I could read the newspapers.  A
certain number of the phrases I employ I have heard also from herds and
fishermen along the coast from Kerry to Mayo, or from beggar-women and
balladsingers nearer Dublin; and I am glad to acknowledge how much I owe to
the folk imagination of these fine people.  Anyone who has lived in real
intimacy with the Irish peasantry will know that the wildest sayings and ideas
in this play are tame indeed, compared with the fancies one may hear in any
little hillside cabin in Geesala, or Carraroe, or Dingle Bay.  All art is a
collaboration; and there is little doubt that in the happy ages of literature,
striking and beautiful phrases were as ready to the story-teller's or the
playwright's hand, as the rich cloaks and dresses of his time.  It is probable
that when the Elizabethan dramatist took his ink-horn and sat down to his work
he used many phrases that he had just heard, as he sat at dinner, from his
mother or his children.  In Ireland, those of us who know the people have the
same privilege.  When I was writing "The Shadow of the Glen," some years ago,
I got more aid than any learning could have given me from a chink in the floor
of the old Wicklow house where I was staying, that let me hear what was being
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