Monday, March 9, 1998

FOUND POEMS FROM THE IRISH:

FOUND POEMS FROM THE IRISH:
(A WOMAN’S LAMENT)

Chum mé dán ar thion na farraige:
I composed a poem on the bottom of the sea:
Níl an ach scéal scéil.
It’s only a story of a story.
Tá mé dhonaic sé bhfis é.
I saw him in a vision.
Tá cuimhne agam air ar an fhraoch bán.
I remember him in the white heather.
Sé mo laoch, mo ghile mear,
He was my hero, my lively lad,
An craiceann comh geal le sneachta.
Skin as white as snow.
An súilí, glé ghealachi
Eyes, bright moons
In uillinn a cheile ar an ghréine.
Arm in arm with the sun.
Thit ga gréine air.
A beam of sunlight fell on him.
Tá fuinneoga ag teacht ar an spéir.
Windows opening on the sky.
Ar an ngnáth—airgead beo.
Out of the ordinary—quicksilver.
Bhí idir shean agus óg, an dá sinn.
Both old and young, we were between two times.
Cad tá i ndán? Níl mí ná meala.
What’s destiny to me? Not a honeymoon.
Tá na ballaí ag eisteacht an saol eile.
The walls are listening in the otherworld.


A ghrá mo chroí,
Oh love of my heart,
An bhfuil ní guth agat an saol seo?
Can you not sing of this life?
O dubh go dubh,
From darkness to darkness,
Dheánfadh sé nead i do chulas.
He’d make a nest in your ear.
Bhí sruth is gaoth línn,
We had the current and wind with us,
Bhí grian is gealach línn,
We had the sun and moon with us,
Ní duirt sé drucht ná baisteach.
But he said not dew nor rain.
Bhí muid ag fanacht leis an earrach
We were waiting for spring
Ní thit an thoin as an speir.
But the bottom fell out of the sky.
Bhí chuir snaidhm línn dteanga
We made a knot with our tongues
Bhí nach scaoifidh línn gcár.
We couldn’t untie with our teeth.

A chuisle mo chroí.
Grá. Oh pulse of my heart. Love.
D’fhág mé an focal sin an lar.
I dropped that word on the ground.
Bhain sé ceol as an saol.
He’s taken the music from the world.
Nior fagadh focal agam.
There wasn’t a word left for me.
Tá ceol na greine an muir is ar tír—
The music of the sun on sea and land—
Tá na hein ag seinm
The birds are singing
Cíall an fhocail
The daftness of words
Ag rith éadan an gaothe.
In the face of the wind.

Tri bainne cetmuintire:
The three drops of a wife:
bainne fola,
the drop of blood,
bainne dér
the milk of tears
bainne aillse.
the milk of sweat.
Níl fath agam le fanacht.
I have no cause to stay.
Tá sé carraig de dhuine, chomh
He’s a rock of a man, hard
agus bodhar crua le cloch,
and deaf as stones.
Níl cíos ná cás ná cathú air.
He has not rent, nor concern nor sorrow.
Tá sé an craiceann agus loach uaidh.
He wants both the hide and its price.

Ad rud nach binn le duine ni chluineann sé é.
A man hears only what he wants to hear.
Níl mo cheol thú.
Not You’re my music.
Níl tá grá agam duit.
Not I love you.
Ní féidir an dá lá a fhreastal.
It’s not possible to serve two shores.
Bión adharca fada ar na buaibh thar lear.
There are always longer horns on the cattle overseas.
Glan as mo líon.
Clear out of my net.
Tá mo shaith le deanamh agam.
I have plenty else to do.


Bhí an fharraige garbh inniu.
The sea was rough today.
Níl an béal bán.
No fair mouthings (sweet talk).
Níl éan ceoil—
No bird of music—
Labhair mé go garbh leis.
I spoke harshly to him.
Shearg an teas an bláthanna.
The heat wilted the flowers.
Tá mo ghairdín ima fhashach aris.
My garden’s a wilderness again.
Níl luibh na leigheas an aghaidh an bhias.
No herbs nor healing against death.
Mhún an púca ar na caora.
The puca’s pissed on the berries.
Ná cluinim focal eile uait!
Don’t let me hear another word!
Tá deora Dé ar an líon damháin alla.
God’s tears in the web of the little wild ox (spider)
Agus méarcha mo mháthar ag slogadh
And my mother’s fingers gulping rosary beads.
clocha paidrín.
Tá sé ag trá.
The tide is ebbing.
Tá na ghrian ag dul faol.
The sun’s slipping under.
Tá na colg ar an ngaoth.
There’s always a bitter blade of wind.
Níl d’fagh sé slán agam.
He never said goodbye to me.
Ní fiu dom fanacht anois
It’s not worth the wait now
Áit ar chul éaga.
(for) a place beyond death.
Tá an saol seo ag teacht cúng orm.
This world’s closing in on me.
Guigh ar mo shon.
Pray on my sake.



FOUND POEMS FROM THE IRISH:
(A WOMAN’S LAMENT)

I composed a poem on the bottom of the sea:
It’s only a story of a story.
I saw him in a vision.
I remember him in the white heather.
He was my hero, my lively lad,
Skin as white as snow.
Eyes, bright moons
Arm in arm with the sun.
A beam of sunlight fell on him.
Windows opening on the sky.
Out of the ordinary—quicksilver.
Both old and young, we were between two times.
What’s destiny to me? Not a honeymoon.
The walls are listening in the otherworld.



Oh love of my heart,
Can you not sing of this life?
From darkness to darkness,
He’d make a nest in your ear.
We had the current and wind with us,
We had the sun and moon with us,
But he said not dew nor rain.
We were waiting for spring
But the bottom fell out of the sky.
We made a knot with our tongues
We couldn’t untie with our teeth.

Grá. Oh pulse of my heart. Love.
I dropped that word on the ground.
He’s taken the music from the world.
There wasn’t a word left for me.
The music of the sun on sea and land—
The birds are singing
The daftness of words
In the face of the wind.

The three drops of a wife:
the drop of blood,
the milk of tears
the milk of sweat.
I have no cause to stay.
He’s a rock of a man, hard
and deaf as stone.
He has not rent, nor concern nor sorrow.
He wants both the hide and its price.

A man hears only what he wants to hear.
Not You’re my music.
Not I love you.
It’s not possible to serve two shores.
There are always longer horns on the cattle overseas.
Clear out of my net.
I have plenty else to do.

The sea was rough today.
No fair mouthings (sweet talk).
No bird music—
I spoke harshly to him.
The heat wilted the flowers.
My garden’s a wilderness again.
No herbs nor healing against death.
The puca’s pissed on the berries.
Don’t let me hear another word!
God’s tears in the web of the little wild ox (spider)
And my mother’s fingers gulping rosary beads.
clocha paidrín.
The tide is ebbing.
The sun’s slipping under.
There’s always a bitter blade of wind.
He never said goodbye to me.
It’s not worth the wait now
(for) a place beyond death.
This world’s closing in on me.
Pray on my sake.



3/9/98

(Lines were taken from Heather’ Garvy’s Focal an Lae and other online Irish grammar sources. As I was studying the root origins of Irish words, I heard an ancient melody and a hidden story in the examples of the literal word-for-word translations—just like my grandmother’s convoluted sayings. The poetry, still alive within the old metaphor buried inside the modern cliché. And so I unwrapped them. Rearranged them in fits of fancy on the page to create found poems.

A found poem is a collage, a pastiche, but I tinkered with tenses, combined phrases, etc. I’ve tried to amend the grammar wherever necessary, but my Irish is at best, scantily clad in the thinnest línéadach, all mistakes are mine alone. Mea culpa. The smattering of Irish I learned at my grandmother’s knee was fin de cícle Gaelic League.

In modern (revised) Irish, there is an avalanche of “haiches" to contend with, and I don’t know where to put them all, let alone conjugate the complexities of Irish grammar. Sometimes it looks as if my keyboard has taken to automatic writing solely with consonants. However, Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste!)

3/9/98
© 1998 Maureen Hurley

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