Áine ní Ghlinn: The warmth of the kitchen is cold

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In the kitchen

For Robbie

I hear the hollow shovel, bleak
against the laughter of the sun
Sun, where shall I go now?
The warmth of the kitchen is cold.

I sense the hand once held in mine
the train discarded in the corner
Train, where will you go now?
The cold of the kitchen is bare.

I hear the gentle laughter, soft
against the silence of the wind
Wind, take me with you now
The silence of the kitchen is forever.

  --Áine ní Ghlinn (1955- ) in Sruth na Maoile: Modern Gaelic Poetry From Scotland and Ireland (1993)

Sa Chistin

I gCuimhne Robbie

Cloisim an tsluasaid lom
meascaithe le gáire na gréine
A ghrian, cá raghad anois?
Tá teas na cistine fuar.

Braithim an lámh a bhí im láimh
an traein caite sa chúinne
A traein, cá raghair anois?
Tá fuacht na cistine lom.

Cloisim an gáire séimh
meascaithe le ciúnas na gaoithe
A ghaoth, beir leat anois mé
Tá tost na cistine buan.


J.G. Farrell: A beautiful woman who seemed like a solid thing

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Strange to think that a beautiful woman who seemed like a solid thing, solid as granite, was really no more solid than a flaring match, a burst of flame, darkness before and darkness after....

    --The doctor in Troubles, by J.G. Farrell (1935-1979). In a review of J.G. Farrell in His Own Words: Selected Letters and Diaries (2010), ed. by Lavinia Greacen, in the London Review of Books, by Christopher Tayler


Dòmhnall Iain MacDhòmhnaill: If my name is on the list, there will be room on board

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Gate to the Land of the Young

...I see yonder the boundary wall
and gate of Tìr nan Og:
behind it an ocean ebbing;
on the floodtide the boat will come--
if my name is on her list,
there will be room on board...

I see yonder the boundary wall
and gate of Tìr nan Og:
I am tired of this long journey,
my vigour not as it was,
my step not so light and quick,
nor my appearance so lively...

I see yonder the boundary wall
and gate of Tìr nan Og:
I await the flooding tide
and the ferry coming for me--
Oh, may eternal light shine
on me beyond life's end.

       --Donald John MacDonald (Dòmhnall Iain MacDhòmhnaill) (1919-1986), Gaelic-language poet from South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. 

From Chì Mi: The Gaelic Poetry of Donald Mac Donald (1998, 2001) ed. and translated by Bill Innes

Geata Tìr nan Og

...Chì mi bhuam an gàrradg-crìche
's geata Tìr nan Og:
air a chùl tha cuan a' tràghadh,
san t-sruth-lìonaidh thig am bàta-- 
ma bhios m'ainm-sa sgrìobht' air clàr innt',
nìthear àit' air bòrd...

Chì mi bhuam an gàrradg-crìche
's geata Tìr nan Og:
tha mi sgìth san t-slighe bhuan sa
gun mo chlì mar bha i uairean,
gun mo cheum cho ealamh, uallach,
no mo shnuadh cho beò...

Chì mi bhuam an gàrradg-crìche
's geata Tìr nan Og:
tha mi feitheamh sruth an lìonaidh,
's am bàt-aiseig tighinn gam iarraidh--
O, gum boillsgeadh soillse shìorraidh
dhomh thar crìoch nam beò.


Lament of the wife of Áed mac Ainmirech

Tara_curse_300 

Beloved to me-- three sides
I cannot hope to see again:
the side of Tailltiu, the side of Tara
and the side of Aedh son of Ainmire.

  --Lament written in 7th- or 8th-century Ireland, ascribed to the wife of the king of Ireland, Áed mac Ainmirech (reigned ca 571-600). From Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland (a compilation finished ca 1616). My translation owes a debt to Myles Dillon's in An Anthology of Irish Literature (1954), ed. David H. Greene. The Irish is from Chronicon Scotorum (p. 46), [Annals of the Irish], an electronic text published by University College, Cork, Ireland

Báttar inmuini tri toib
frisna freisciu aitherrech-- 
taeban Taillten, taebh Temra,
taeb Aedha meic Anmirech.


Old Irish: Cold is the wind

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Cold is the wind
through the doorway of the soldiers' house;
beloved the soldiers
who stood between us and the wind.

    --Old Irish, recited by Rónán in the tragic tale "Fingal Rónáin." This and many other Old Irish translations are found on the website www.sengoídelc.com [=Old Irish]

Is úar gáeth
i ndorus tige na lláech;
batar inmaine laích
bítis etrainn ocus gaíth.

Capercaillie: The stars I gaze upon seem different since that day

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The stars I gaze upon seem different since that day,
While one shines brighter, another fades away,
You light up the winter sky, the moon at your command,
Convinced you didn't mean it, but your soul had different plans.

This is truth calling, makes its way to me,
And this is love falling, falling at our feet.

She was your sister, your neighbour, she was your daughter, your carer.
She was your mother, your sharer, she was your friend, your lover.

The bowing heads of many hold your image in their minds,
The endless search for answers occupy the time,
Gazing at the pictures, with eyes they fail to see
Why in a moment, robbed of reason, you embraced eternity.

   --A song by Capercaillie, the Scottish band. 

"(For Sheila, her family and friends)" 

Photo by Nedieth at flickr. 


Medieval Irish poet: The fort that outlasts the kings

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The Fort of Rathangan

The fort over against the oak-wood,
Once it was Bruidge's, it was Cathal's,
It was Aed's, it was Ailill's,
It was Conaing's, it was Cuilíne's,
and it was Maeldúin's:
the fort remains after each in his turn
and the kings asleep in the ground.

     --Anonymous Irish poet of ca 1100, translated by Kuno Meyer in 

Ancient Irish Poetry (publ. 1913, London)

Though chiefs vanish, lands do not.

   --From the Brehon Laws

Cía báidit cenna ní báidit mbruighe.