Skip to main content

An Paróiste Míorúilteach



O'Brien Press are about to publish An Paróiste Míorúilteach/The Miraculous Parish, a dual-language selection of Máire Mhac an tSaoi's poems edited by Louis de Paor, with translations by myself, Celia de Fréine, Louis de Paor, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, James Gleasure, Aidan Higgins, Valentine Iremonger, Biddy Jenkinson, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Eiléan Ní Chuileannáin and Douglas Sealy. It comes with an illuminating introduction by Louis de Paor. Here's a taster, first the original, then my own translation.

Cian á thógaint díom

Do mheabhair is mó anois a bhraithim uaim –
Ní cuí dhom feasta cumann rúin an tsúsa –
Cleamhnas na hintinne, ná téann i ndísc,
A d’fhág an t-éasc im lár, an créacht ná dúnann.

An mó de bhlianaibh scartha dhúinn go beacht
Roimh lasadh im cheann don láchtaint seo taibhríodh dom?
Téann díom, ach staonfad fós den gcomhaireamh seasc,
Altaím an uain is ní cheistím an faoiseamh.

Milse ár gcomhluadair d’fhill orm trém néall,
Cling do chuileachtan leanann tréis na físe,
Do leath ár sonas tharainn mar an t-aer.
Bheith beo in éineacht, fiú gan cnaipe ’scaoileadh.

Do cheannfhionn dílis seirgthe i gcré
An t-éitheach; is an fíor? An aisling ghlé.

Sorrow lifts from me

More than anything, it’s your mind I feel the loss of now.
The love between the sheets has had its day
But the bond of mind, which never fades
Is what tears me, is the wound that never heals.

How many years exactly since we parted
Before this brightening kindled like a waking dream?
I can’t remember, and will not count them, but
Give thanks for the moment and not question its peace.

The sweetness of our company came back to me in the 
                                                                              dream,
The chime of your pleasure still sounds in the room,
Our joy spread round us like the air.
Even if no button is undone, just to be alive together.

This is the lie: your fair head withered in clay.
And the truth? The clear vision in the brightening day.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The rustling of the silk

Back after a long absence with three versions of a poem from the Chinese, for our edification, followed by a moral quandary.

The first is Ezra Pound’s.

Liu Ch’e

The rustling of the silk is discontinued,
Dust drifts over the court-yard,
There is no sound of footfall, and the leaves
Scurry into heaps and lie still,
And she the rejoicer of the heart is beneath them:

A wet leaf that clings to the threshold.

Much has been written about Pound as a translator or mediator of Chinese poetry into English. He didn’t speak Chinese, so his versions don’t have scholarly pretensions. In the Cathay poems he relied on the notes that Ernest Fenollosa compiled in Tokyo, and was quite happy to use the Japanese designation Rihaku for the Chinese poet Li Po. Arthur Waley, whose own translations of Chinese poetry were hugely influential, objected to many of Pound’s versions, though it’s hard to see how his version of, say, ‘The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter’ improves on Pound’s. Pound’s great gift as a p…

John Riley

John Riley’s early death — he was murdered by two muggers at the age of forty-one — combined with a history of publication by small presses and a talent that doesn’t lend itself to easy categorisation have tended to keep his work on the margins, admired by the few but generally unknown. This is a pity, because Riley was one of the finest poets of his generation. In his lifetime he published three collections, Ancient and Modern with Grosseteste Press, which he founded with Tim Longville in 1966, What Reason Was, and That is Today, published by Pig Press in 1978, the year of his death. The now out of print Collected Works (Grosseteste Press) came out in 1980. Carcanet published his Selected Poems, edited by Michael Grant, in 1995.

I had always been impressed by the few poems I came across in anthologies like A Various Art, edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville. The impression I had of an extraordinarily gifted poet was borne out by the Selected Poems. I first came across this in …

Songs of the earth (1): Yannis Ritsos

The Meaning of Simplicity
I hide behind simple things so you’ll find me; if you don’t find me, you’ll find the things, you’ll touch what my hand has touched our hand-prints will merge.
The August moon glitters in the kitchen like a tin-plated pot (it gets that way because of what I’m saying to you), it lights up the empty house and the house’s kneeling silence– always the silence remains kneeling.
Every word is a doorway to a meeting, one often cancelled, and that’s when a word is true: when it insists on the meeting.
(Translated by Edmund Keeley, published in The Greek Poets: From Homer to the Present, Norton, 2010)
Yannis Ritsos’ output as a poet was enormous. He published more than a hundred collections of poetry, and often wrote with great speed, sometimes producing three collections in a single year. Such protean fluency can interfere with the reception of a poet in his own culture, and it can also inhibit or distort the reception in translation. How do you choose? How much o…