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Faoistin Raiftearaí - Raftery's Confession


Antaine Raftery


It was a standard practice with the Irish poets to compose in old age a repentance poem in which they confessed - in strict meter and rhyme, of course - to all sorts of sins in a general way. This repentance of Raftery was composed a few years before his death in 1835. The patriotic Archbishop MacHale of Tuam, who rendered such works as disparate as Thomas Moore's Melodies and some books of Homer's Iliad into Irish, was so impressed by this repentance poem that he said: "... it would ensure Raftery's admittance into heaven no matter what sins he had really committed." In the final verse the blind poet "signs" his composition just as an artist would put his signature on a completed painting. He deftly works the date of composition (1832) into his verse. Raftery was to die three years later ... Criostoir O'Flynn

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Raiftearaí

1. A Rí atá ar neamh is a chruthaigh Ádhamh
Is a chuireas cás i bpeaca an úill,
Screadaim ort anois os ard,
Óir is le do ghrásta atá mé ag súil.

2. Tá mé in aois is do chríon mo bhláth
Is iomdha lá mé ag dul amú,
Thit mé i bpeaca os cionn naoi bhfeá
Ach tá na grásta ar láimh an Uain.

3. Nuair a bhí mé óg b'olc iad mo thréithe,
Ba mhór mo spéis i scléip is in achrann,
B'fhearr liom go mór ag imirt is ag ól
Ar maidin Domnhaigh ná triall chun Aifrinn.

4. Níorb fhearr liom suí in aice cailín óig
Ná le mnaoi pósta ag céilíocht tamall,
Do mhionna móra a bhí mé tabhartha
Agus drúis nó póit níor lig mé tharam

5. Peaca an úill, mo chrá's mo léan!
Is é a mhill an saol mar gheall ar bheirt,
Ós coir an craos tá mise síos
Mura bhfóire Íosa ar m'anam bocht.

6. Is orm, faraoir, tá na coireacha móra
Ach diúltód dóibh má mhairim tamall,
Lig gach ní anuas ar mo cholainn fós
A Rí na glóire, ach tarrthaigh m'anam.

7. D'éalaigh an lá is niór thóg mé an fál
Nó gur lobh an barr ó alt go glúin
A Ard-Rí an chirt, anois réidh mo chás
Is le sruth na ngrásta fliuch mo shúil.

8. Is le do ghrásta a ghlan tú Máire
Agus shaor tú Dáibhí a rinne an aithrí,
Thug tú Maoise slán ón mbáthadh,
'S tá cruthú láidir gur shaor tú an gadai.

9. Mar is peacach mé nach ndearna stór,
Ná sólás mór Dhia ná Muire,
Ach fáth mo bhrón tá mo choireacha romhan
Mar lig mé an scór ar an méar is faide.

10. A Rí na Glóire atálán de ghrásta
Is tú a rinne fión den fíor-uisce.
Le beagán lóin do riar tuy/ an slua,
Och! freastail, fóir agus slánaigh mise.

11. Ó a Íosa Críost a d'fhulaingan pháis
Is do hadhlacadh, mar bhí tú umhal,
Cuirim coimrí m'anama ar do scáth,
Is ar uair mo bháis ná tabhair dom cúl.

12. A Bhanríon Phárthais, máthair is maighdean,
Scáthán na ngrásta, aingeal is naomh,
Cuirim cosaint m'anama ar do láimh
A Mhuire, ná diúltaigh mé is beidh mé saor.

13. Anois tá mé in aois is ar bhruach an bháis,
'S is gearr an spás go dtéad in úir,
Ach is fearr go deireannach ná go brách
Agus fógraím páirt ar Rí na nDul.

14. Is cuaille gan mhaith mé i gcoirnéal fáil
Nó is cosúil le bádmé a chaill a stiúir
A bhrisfí isteach ar bhruach na trá
Is a bheadh dá bá sna tonnta fuar'.

15 A Íosa Críost a fuair bás Dé hAoine
Is a d'eirigh arís i do rí gan locht,
Is tú a thug an tslí le aithrí a dheanamh,
'S nach beag an smaoineamh a krinneas ort!

16. Tharla ar dtús míle is ocht gcéad,
An fiche go beacht i gceann an dódhéag,
Ón am a thuirling Críost a réab na geataí
Go dtí an bhliain a ndearna Raifteirí an Aithrí.

... Criostoir O'Flynn

O King of Heaven, maker of Man,
Who never planned the original sin,
To you I cry out while I can,
With hope in heart your grace to win.

Old age has left me in decay
And many's the day I wandered far
To fall deep down in sinful ways
But the Lamb has graces near at hand.

Even in my youth my ways were evil,
Forever seeking sport and quarrelling,
At drink and games you'd sooner see me
Than kneeling at Mass on a Sunday morning.

"Twas equal to me if with maids I tarried
Or a married woman coaxed a while,
With oaths my speech was always lavish,
In lust and liquor I passed my time.'

The sin of the fruit, I grieve to say,
Brought all decay because two stole,
But I for gluttony too must pay
Unless Jesus saves my sinful soul.

Alas! that such great sins are mine,
But nevermore while life unfolds;
Punish my body as you like
But life eternal give my soul.

The day is done and no fence I've made
To save the crop I should have grown,
High King of justice, dismiss my case,
Let streams of grace cause tears to flow,

Your grace it was the renewed Mary
And brought King David to repent,
Moses was saved from the river's danger
And the thief, 'tis sure, to heaven was sent.

A sinner am I with no merit stored,
To God and Mary no glory bringing,
My sorrow now such sins to behold
And settlement slowed on the longest finger.

O King of Glory and grace divine
You made fine wine from common water,
With a little bread thousands revived,
O guide me to salvation's harbour.

O Jesus who suffered the passion cruel
And in a tomb lay for our sake,
My soul's protection you'll ensure,
At death's door take me in your care.

Queen of Paradise, mother and maiden,
Mirror of graces, angel and saint,
To your hands my soul I'm placing,
Reject me not, Mary, and I'll be safe.

Now that I'm old and death draws near,
My time is brief before the grave,
But late weeping is better than never a tear,
For Creation's Lord now hear me declare.

I'm like an old fence's rotten pole
Or a rudderless boat on the whirling wave
That drifts to be broken by the shore
And slowly goes to its watery grave.

O Jesus who on Good Friday died
And rose again an almighty King,
Ýou have given me time for my sins to cry
Though seldom I tried on you to think.

One thousand eight hundred years have passed,
Twenty and twelve now add to those,
Since Christ descended hell's gates to blast
Till the year when Raftery this composed.


Raftery is Ireland's poet laureate and universally known throughout the land and abroad. He was born in Killedan in 1779 or 1784, the son of a weaver. He was blinded by small pox while very young and is said to have worked as a stable boy for the landlord, Frank Taaffe. Antaine Raftery is Ireland's best known, favorate, and honored poet.

Courtesy of Jack & Vivian, IrishPage.com September 2007
Fogaireacht ó Gearóid ó hAnnaidh
From Blind Raftery by Criostoir O'Flynn, Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Connemara Ireland, 1998
Cf. Bertrand Library, Bucknell Univ. Lewisburg, Pa. 17837
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