On October 2nd I gave an hour long poetry reading to a group of sixteen year old students from St Brendan's Community School in the library at Birr in celebration of the National Poetry Day.
So to get them in the mood I asked them to close their eyes as I read
"A dream is an early morning tide
softly gentle waves caress,
the slopes of a slumbering mind.
As rolling pebbles
call memories ashore."
A discussion followed about the images which the words evoked and in such a way the rest of the session was conducted.
As a preparation for the occasion I had asked them to translate the first verse of the poem by Dónall Ó Conchúir, (Donal O'Connor 1847-1930), 'Dhá Chích Danann', in order for them to understand the background to my own poem.
'Dhá Chích Danann' -
"Maidin bhreá Fhómair dom cops mórshruth na méithbhreac
I gcoill chluthair cheolmhair is gan leoithne sna spéarthaibh,
An lon dubh is an smóilin go beolbhinn ar séideah,
Gach fás crainn go leor ann cnó buí in a slaodaibh.
Ag dearcadh whom tharam be thaitneamhach limo
Ar Dhá Chích Danann ag amharc anon
Is síbhrat na maidne leabhar leata os a gcionn,
Chomh bleachmhar buan bláfar, chomh hálainn óghchruth."
Translation 'The Breasts of Danu' -
"One beautiful morning beside the great stream of the fertile plain
In a cosy musical wood not a breeze in the sky
The blackbird and the thrush piping sweetly,
Every growing tree there hanging ripe with nuts.
Looking around me it delighted me
The two breasts of Danann
The mysterious fairy mist over them,
As beautiful as the top of the milk that nurtures the child
(As if they were created by God ?)"
Their translation was as perfect as the one that a friendly monk had done for me as he pored over each word and phrase using Dineen's dictionary. That particular dictionary, which covers the nuances of every Irish word, would make a blog post all of it's own - we shall see!
My own poem below describes my experience of hearing the monk's translation:
At a monastery kitchen table I sat
Listening to old Irish being translated
Clear distinct verse with hidden meanings
Spoken in soft tone like a blended prayer
Lulled, my mind by rhythm travelled
As this other language unravelled
So leaving a rich cream behind I flew
To a land where dreams weave anew
To sit with my back against She - Rowan
Who was clothed in milky lace so delicate
I inhaled deeply her fragrant blossom
A vapour that transmuted me to spirit
A wave that kisses the shores of Erin
The song of Amergin
A breath of hot air that ripens corn
Dew on Bealtaine's morn
A mist that caressed Anu's Paps
©MRL 05 - 03 - 2013
As we are approaching Winter I closed the session with "An Ode to Winter Gales".