Ceist na Teangan - The Language Issue


The Pharoah's Daughter
Nuala has many critics who say that she should write her poetry in English. Nuala answers her critics in this poem, "The Language Issue" which I think you will enjoy"

The Language Issue

I place my hope on the water
in this little boat
of the language, the way a body might put
an infant
in a basket of intertwined
iris leaves,
its underside proofed
with bitumen and pitch,

then set the whole thing down amidst
the sedge
and the bulrushes by the edge
of a river
only to have it borne hither and thither,
not knowing where it might end up;
in the lap, perhaps,
of some Pharaoh's daughter.

Ceist na Teangan

Cuirim mo dhochas ar snamh
i mbaidin teangan
faoi mar a leagta naionan
i geliabhan
a bheadh fite fuaite
de dhuilleoga feileastraim
is bitiuman agus pic
bheith cuimilte lena thoin.

ansan e a leagadh sios
i measc na ngioicach
is coigeal na mban si
le taobh na habhann,
feachaint n'fheadarais
a dtabharfaidh an sruth e,
feachaint, dala Mhaoise,
an bhfoirfidh inion Phorain?

Trans. to English by Paul Muldoon
Courtesy of Vivian & Jack, IrishPage.com May, 2022
Replay music: Roisín Dubh
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