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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: Happy National Translation Month

September is National Translation Month, and we’re proud to celebrate it each year. You’ll find several books in translation in our catalog, including poems translated from Irish, French, and Romanian.

Today we’re featuring a poem by Máire Mhac an tSaoi, “one of a trinity of poets who revolutionised Irish language poetry in the 1940s and 50s,” according to Louis de Paor, editor of An Paróiste Míorúilteach: Rogha Dánta/The Miraculous Parish: Selected Poems. Born in Dublin in 1922, Mhac an tSaoi spent long periods of her childhood in a Kerry Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking district). WFU Press published a bilingual selection of her poems in 2014, translated by eleven Irish poets. De Paor explains the method used:

“The translators have worked directly from the Irish to provide English translations that remain close to the originals while attempting to provide a parallel in English that matches, as far as possible, the different tone and temper of each individual poem. … [T]he translations are more concerned with precision in vocabulary and imagery, and with matching the inflections of Máire Mhac an tSaoi’s voice which vary from one poem to the next.”


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.

Máire Mhac an tSaoi, translated by Peter Sirr, from An Paróiste Míorúilteach: Rogha Dánta/The Miraculous Parish: Selected Poems (2014)


Máire Mhac an tSaoi
Mhac an tSaoi | The Miraculous Parish

Categories: Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Poem of the WeekTags: , , , ,

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