Friday, January 26, 2007

Winter Cold, an old Irish poem

Winter Cold

Cold, cold, chill is wide Moylurg*; the snow is higher than a mountain, the deer cannot get at its food.

Eternal cold! The storm has spread on every side; each sloping furrow is a full mere.

Each full lake is a great sea and mere is a full lake; horses cannot get across the ford of Ross, no more can two feet get there.

The fishes of Ireland are roving, there is not a strand where the wave dose not dash, there is not a town left on the land, not a bell is heard, no crane calls.

The wolves of Cuan Wood do not get repose or sleep in the lair of wolves; the little wren does not find shelter for nest on the slope of Lon.

Woe to the company of little birds for the keen wind and cold ice! The blackbird with its dusky back does not find a bank it would like, shelter for its side in the Woods of Cuan.

Snug is the cauldron on its hook, restless is the blackbird on Leitir Cró; snow has crushed the woods here, it is difficult to climb up Ben Bó.

The eagle of brown Glen Rye gets affliction from the bitter wind, great is its misery and suffering, it will get ice in its beak.

It is foolish for you – take heed of it – to rise from quilt and feather bead ; there is much ice on every ford ; that is why I say “Cold!”

Trans. Kennith Hurlstone Jackson, Author unknown, Irish, eleventh century
* A region in North County Roscommon