Skip to main content
Outdated Browser

For the best experience using our website, we recommend upgrading your browser to a newer version or switching to a supported browser.

More Information

Poetry

Two Poems

By Louis de Paor
Translated from Gaelic by Mary O’Donoghue

Blackberries

She pricks blood from a bush,
eyes as bright
as time to come
that casts no shadow on her years.

If memory serves me right, she says,
a year after her return,
the blackberries are nowhere as sweet
as the snow we had last year.

The shimmering tide
is high as the sun
that fills every cove of her pulse,
and a thorn in her talk, unknown to her,
skins the tips of my fingers.

She wants me to taste
the black sweetness,
grown bitter as truth
on the tip of my tongue.

If I could take this day
and all the short days
already past, I would,
catch time by the throat,
and choke it until it stopped

so she could taste time and again
the leaving light of this day
soundless as last year's snow
that never fell (nor will fall)
to this earth.

The Singer

These two here in front of me
think he's singing to only them

when he plays a loving lament,
their fingers ache to be home

where they can play on each
other till morning. The lonely

and old flames are amazed
a man they've never met

has the broken tunes of their dreams
off by heart on the tip of his tongue.

When he touches the strings
that tied them together the first time

ever, the married couple in the corner
move closer in spite of themselves.

When the sleeve of the man's shirt
brushes his wife's shoulder, a young fella

at the other end of the room
takes off his summer jumper and asks the barman

to turn the heat down for God Almighty's sake.
The girl made lovely by sorrow prays

he'll never rest until he finds her.
Outside, a fleet of sirens storms the night,

squadcars, ambulances and fire-brigades
running from the fire that can't be put out

in the smoldering hearts of the men inside
who are late again for the neverending funeral.

Beside the bridge, the morse code
of loneliness broadcast on flurries

of air is clear as day to the man
who has just jumped. The water is smooth

as a sheet and he is deaf to the world
as the music fills his mouth,

washing away a world of worries.
The singer keeps on strumming

the strings that stretch from the heart
to the mouth of his guitar.

His cry is soft as the river, a blanket of water
drawn up over all our sleepy heads.

© Louis de Paor. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2004 by Mary O’Donoghue. All rights reserved.

English Gaelic

Blackberries

She pricks blood from a bush,
eyes as bright
as time to come
that casts no shadow on her years.

If memory serves me right, she says,
a year after her return,
the blackberries are nowhere as sweet
as the snow we had last year.

The shimmering tide
is high as the sun
that fills every cove of her pulse,
and a thorn in her talk, unknown to her,
skins the tips of my fingers.

She wants me to taste
the black sweetness,
grown bitter as truth
on the tip of my tongue.

If I could take this day
and all the short days
already past, I would,
catch time by the throat,
and choke it until it stopped

so she could taste time and again
the leaving light of this day
soundless as last year's snow
that never fell (nor will fall)
to this earth.

The Singer

These two here in front of me
think he's singing to only them

when he plays a loving lament,
their fingers ache to be home

where they can play on each
other till morning. The lonely

and old flames are amazed
a man they've never met

has the broken tunes of their dreams
off by heart on the tip of his tongue.

When he touches the strings
that tied them together the first time

ever, the married couple in the corner
move closer in spite of themselves.

When the sleeve of the man's shirt
brushes his wife's shoulder, a young fella

at the other end of the room
takes off his summer jumper and asks the barman

to turn the heat down for God Almighty's sake.
The girl made lovely by sorrow prays

he'll never rest until he finds her.
Outside, a fleet of sirens storms the night,

squadcars, ambulances and fire-brigades
running from the fire that can't be put out

in the smoldering hearts of the men inside
who are late again for the neverending funeral.

Beside the bridge, the morse code
of loneliness broadcast on flurries

of air is clear as day to the man
who has just jumped. The water is smooth

as a sheet and he is deaf to the world
as the music fills his mouth,

washing away a world of worries.
The singer keeps on strumming

the strings that stretch from the heart
to the mouth of his guitar.

His cry is soft as the river, a blanket of water
drawn up over all our sleepy heads.

© Louis de Paor. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2004 by Mary O’Donoghue. All rights reserved.

Sméara Dubha

Más buan mo chuimhne, adeir sí,
bliain tar éis filleadh ón iasacht,
níl na sméara chomh blasta in aon chor
le sneachta na bliana seo caite.

Tá gile na taoide
chomh hard leis an ngrian
a líonann gach cuas dá cuisle,
is dealg sa chaint i ngan fhios di
a réabann craiceann mo mhéar.

Priocann sí braonta fola den sceach,
súile daite chomh glé
leis an am le teacht
nár dhoirchigh bráillín bán
a hóige go fóill.

Ba mhaith léi go mblaisfinn
den mhilseacht dhubh
atá chomh searbh inniu
leis an bhfírinne ghlan
ar bharr mo theanga.

thabharfainn an lá seo
is na laethanta gearra go léir
a tháinig roimhe dem shaol
ach greim scrogaill a bhreith ar an uain,
é a fháisceadh gan tlás nó go stopfadh

go mblaisfeadh sí arís is arís eile
de sholas an lae seo ag dul as
chomh ciúin le sneachta na bliana seo caite
nár bhuail (is nach mbuailfidh)
urlár an tsaoil go deo.

An tAmhránaí

Is dóigh leis an mbeirt os mo chomhair
gur leosan amháin a labhrann

nuair a chanann a gholtraí ghrámhar
is fada le barra a méar

go mbeidh said sa bhaile is cead
seanma ar a chéile acu go maidin.

Is ait le haonaráin is le hiarleannáin
go mbeadh fonn briste a gcroíthe ar bharr

a theanga ag fear nár casadh orthu cheana.
Nuair a bhuaileann na sreanganna síoda

a cheangail dá chéile an chéad lá riamh iad,
druideann an lánúin phósta dá mbuíochas

i leith a chéile. Nuair a chuimlíonn uillinn
a léine sin le gualainn a mhná, baineann

fear óg ar thaobh eile an tseomra
a gheansaí samhraidh de is iarrann

ar fhear an tí an teas a ísliú in ainm
dílis Dé. Guíonn an cailín a bhfuil áilleacht

an bhróin ina gnúis go mbeidh sé gan chéile
go bhfaighidh sé í. Tá an oíche á réabadh

ag foireann na gclog, scuaine scuadcharr,
otharcharr is inneall dóiteán ar a gcoimeád

ón tine nach féidir a mhúchadh
i gcuislí dóite na bhfear mór laistigh

atá mall chun na sochraide arís. In aice an droichid,
tá nodaireacht an uaignis ar chuilithíní an aeir

os a chionn léite go cruinn ag an bhfear
atá díreach tar éis léimt. Tá an t-uisce chomh mín

le bráillín is tonn álainn an cheoil ina bhéal
á bhodhradh ar bhuaireamh an tsaoil.

Leanann an ceoltóir ag seinm ar na sreanganna fola
a shíneann ón gcroí go dtí béal a ghiotáir.

Tá a chaoineadh chomh séimh le pluid
na habhann á tarraingt os ár gcionn go léir.