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Bard

In Medieval Britain and Ireland, a bard was a professional poet who praised (and sometimes satirized) the ruler of the land. Both the word and the profession have origins in Celtic Europe.

Traditionally, Welsh and Irish bards treated poetry as a craft to be learned and mastered. Young poets were sometimes apprenticed to experienced bards, and there were bardic schools where students were extensively trained in the knowledge and skills of the craft.

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The bardic revival of the 18th and 19th centuries attributed false qualities to the ancient and Medieval bards. The English Romantics recast the professional, workmanlike bards as forebears to Romanticism—spontaneous, emotional, and rhapsodic. This mistaken definition survives to this day.

The Romantics affixed honorary titles to many bygone English poets they admired—notably Shakespeare, who was dubbed by the Romantics the “Bard of Avon.”

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