This is a poem by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill from her collection entitled The
Water Horse. The English translation is by Seamus Heany.
Núala Ní Dhomhnaill (NOO-la Nee GO-nal), Ireland's foremost present-day poet writing in
Irish, was born in 1952 in Lancashire. In 1957, her parents returned to Ireland -- to the
Dingle Gaeltacht in Kerry, where she grew up. She writes all her poetry in Irish because
she believes that Irish is a language of enormous elasticity and emotional sensitivity; of
quick and hilarious banter. Many international scholars have commented that this language
of ragged peasants "seems always on the point of bursting into poetry." (Dhomhnaill, 2) .
Courtesy of Vivian & Jack. IrishPage.com November 11, 2011.
© 1999, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill From: The Water Horse Publisher: The Gallery Press, Oldcastle, 1999 ISBN: 1852352329
le Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
1. Taibhríodh dom in aois coinlíochta
i mo leaba chúng sa tsuanlios aíochta
go rabhas i halla mór ag rince
i measc slua mór de mo dhaoine muinteartha,
le prionsa dubh.
by Seamus Heany.
1. At puberty I had a dream
in my all-too-single bunk in the school dorm,
of dancing the length of a public room
with the guts of my relatives looking on
in the arms of an ebony Adonis.
2. Timpeall is timpeall do ghaibh an válsa,
bhí míobhán ar mo cheann le háthas,
ba mhear é a shúil, bhí a fhéachaint fíochmhar,
bhí bua gach clis i lúth is in aicillíocht
ag an bprionsa dubh.
2. Round and round whirled the waltz
till my senses spun with joy
from the fiery, fierce glance of his eye.
Every achievement in fitness and sport
possessed my ebony Adonis.
3. Ach do plabadh oscailte an doras sa tsuanlios
do chling soithí níocháin, do lasadh soilse,
bhí bean rialta ramhar ag fógairt ‘Moladh le híosa’
is do shuíos síos i lár an tsúsa is do ghoileas
i ndiaidh mo phrionsa dhuibh.
3. Then the dormitory door caved in with a bang,
lights snapped on and wash-basins rang,
a well-fed sister was singing the praises of Christ,
and myself left amidst the bedclothes bereft
of my ebony Adonis.
4. A dhreach, a mharc ní dhearmhadfad choíche,
a scáth ard baolach a bhíodh liom sínte,
mo bhuachaill caol in éag do mhill mé,
mo rí, m’impire, mo thiarna,
mo phrionsa dubh.
4. His face and his touch I will never forget,
that high-powered shadow that with me slept,
that expert lover that spoiled me for dead,
my sovereign, imperial, absolute passion,
my ebony Adonis.
5.Is do m’iníon taibhríodh in aois a naoi di
gur oscail doirse in óstán draíochta
is duine éagsúil ag gach seomra acu á hiarraidh
is mar a dual máthar di (a chonách orm a thóg í) roghnaíonn
is toghann an prionsa dubh.
5. My daughter, in her turn, dreamed aged nine
of a door that led to a spellbound inn
where various chancers were coaxing her in
and, like mother like daughter, you’d know she was mine,
nothing would do her but the ebony Adonis.
6. Is a iníon bháin, tóg toise cruinn dó,
ní maith an earra é, níl sé iontaofa,
is dúnmharfóir é, is máistir pionsa,
is sár-rinceoir é, ach cá ngabhann an rince
ach trí thinte ifrinn leis an bprionsa dubh.
6. Now, light of my soul, make no bones about it,
a no-good son-of-a-bitch can’t be trusted,
with his murder record and black belt too,
this Lord of the Dance is headed where to?
Straight through the fires of hell, with the ebony Adonis.
7. Cuirfear faoi ghlas tú i gcás gloine iata,
nó faoi mar a bheadh doras rothlánach ina mbeifeá greamaithe
gan cead isteach nó amach agat ach an suathadh síoraí
soir agus siar tré phóirsí an tsíce
má ligeann tú a cheann leis an bprionsa dubh.
7.You’ll end up closed in an exhibition case,
under lock and key, or caught as it were in a revolving doorway,
unable either to get in or get out for the swish
back and forth, night and day, through the porches of the psyche
if you give an inch to the ebony Adonis.
8. Nó beir mar a bhíos-sa i néaróis sínte
ceithre bliana déag, is mé spíonta le pianta
faoi mar a thitfinn i dtobar ar chuma Ophelia
gan neach beo i mo ghaobhar, ná éinne a thuigfeadh
toisc gur thugas ró-ghean do mo phrionsa dubh.
8. You’ll be laid low as I was in a type of ME
at the dregs of a well like a sort of Ophelia,
tortured with symptoms for fourteen years
without a creature to speak to or a sympathetic ear
since I handed my cards to the ebony Adonis
9. Nó gur shiúlas amach ar an nduimhche oíche duibhré
is dar an Mháthair Mhór is dar déithe mo mhuintire
a bhraitheas i mo thimpeall, do thugas móid agus briathar
go dtabharfainn suas an ní ab ansa liom ach mé a shaoradh ón bpian seo
cén cás ach dob é sin mo phrionsa dubh.
9. Till I walked out over the golf links to the moonless tide
and summoned up the Goddess and the spirits of my tribe
to gather around me, and I swore my solemn promise
to surrender what I loved most to exorcise the sickness
all very well for a joke, except this was my ebony Adonis.
10. Mar dob é an bás é, ina lúi i luíochán
in íochtar m’anama, ins an bpaibhiliún
is íochtaraí i mo chroí, de shíor ar tí
mé a ídiú gan mhoill is a shá ins an duibheagán
mar sin é an saghas é, an prionsa dubh.
10. Who was all along Sir Death, lurking in ambush
in my womb’s valleys, in the summer-house
and lowlands of my heart, forever alert
to decoy me into his desert, to destroy me in short,
being the ebony Adonis.
11. Mar sin, a mhaoineach, dein an ní a deir do chroí leat,
toisc gur gabhas-sa-tríd seo leis ná bíodh aon ró-imní ort.
Ní sháróidh an bás sinn, ach ní shaorfaidh choíche,
ní lú ná mar a aontóidh an saol seo le chéile
sinne, agus ár bprionsa dubh
11. Still, my honeychild, since I’ve been there and done it,
you do your own thing and don’t give a shit,
for Old Death will not get us, though he’ll not let us go,
any more than this life will condone us
one kiss from our ebony Adonis.
In the absence of the original music by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, we have
Replay midi background music: Roisin Dubh
Núala Ní Dhomhnaill (NOO-la Nee GO-nal), Ireland's foremost present-day poet writing in Irish, was born in 1952 in Lancashire. In 1957, her parents returned to Ireland -- to the Dingle Gaeltacht in Kerry, where she grew up. She writes all her poetry in Irish because she believes that Irish is a language of enormous elasticity and emotional sensitivity; of quick and hilarious banter. Many international scholars have commented that this language of ragged peasants "seems always on the point of bursting into poetry." (Dhomhnaill, 2)
Courtesy of Vivian & Jack. IrishPage.com November 11, 2011.