Book Review: Poetry and Prophecy

Author: N.K. Chadwick

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Published: First Published 1942, reprinted 1952, paperback copy 2011

ISBN: 978-1-107-68951-0

Pages: 110 with index



This 1952 book is an inquiry into the relations in origin between literature and inspiration, based on a study of the practices of seers in modern communities where oral literature sill survives, and of the records of primitive poetry in the West and North. Mrs Chadwick discusses the universal reverence accorded to poets, musicians, seers, or prophets, the training they underwent, the methods of ecstasy, and the remarkable similarities of their messages in remote and different parts of the world.


The core of this book came from three different papers that were read before the Anthropological Section of the British Association in 1937, 1938 and 1939.

The author talks about the relationship between poetry and prophecy and along the way she gives a review of evidence of seers in early Europe, the evidence of modern oral literature, the seer’s inspiration, the techniques of Trancing, the spiritual journey of the seer and the relationship between Mantic tradition and ritual and magic.

Although I’ve never liked Nora Chadwick’s historical books (outdated and sometimes the theories were out there) I have always respected her work on the Imbas Forosnai and this book is just a treasure trove of information on the Mantic tradition. It looks at different cultures and it helped me really think about the Trance work that I do. Very important book.


4 thoughts on “Book Review: Poetry and Prophecy

  1. caelesti says:

    Was that one hard to find?

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