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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: “Ceist na Teangan / The Language Issue” by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

This week has been a pretty exciting one for everyone involved in publishing and literary studies here at Wake Forest. After two years of planning, the University is finally hosting its “Words Awake!” celebration of Wake Forest writers! The three day event will focus on recognizing the achievements of Wake Forest writers past and present while also focusing on the future of the industry.

In honor of “Words Awake!”, we hope you enjoy one of our favorite bilingual poems, “Ceist na Teangan / The Language Issue”, by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill from our fall publication, The Wake Forest Book of Irish’s Women’s Poetry.

Ceist na Teangan

Cuirim mo dhóchas ar snámh
i mbáidín teangan
faoi mar a leagfá naíonán
i gcliabhán
a bheadh fite fuaite
de dhuilleoga feileastraim
is bitiúmin agus pic
bheith cuimilte lena thóin
ansan é a leagadh síos
i measc na ngiolcach
is coigeal na mban sí
le taobh na habhann,
féachaint n’fheadaraís
cá dtabharfaidh an sruth é,
féachaint, dála Mhaoise,
an bhfóirfidh iníon Fharoinn?

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 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.

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, trans. Paul Muldoon, from The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry (2011)

Categories: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Poem of the WeekTags: , , ,


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