December’s Poems of the Month come from Northern Lights, with poems in Irish by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill with translations into English by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Peter Fallon, Eamon Grennan, Bernard O’Donoghue and Dennis O’Driscoll.

Tusa

Is tusa, pé thú féin,
an fíréan
a thabharfadh cluas le héisteacht,
b’fhéidir, do bhean inste scéil
a thug na cosa léi, ar éigean,
ó láthair an chatha.

Níor thugamair féin an samhradh linn
ná an geimhreadh.
Níor thriallamair ar bord loinge
go Meiriceá ná ag lorg ár bhfortúin
le chéile i slí ar bith
ins na tíortha teo thar lear.

Níor ghaibheamair de bharr na gcnoc
ar chapall láidir álainn dubh.
Níor luíomair faoi chrann caorthainn
is an oíche ag cur cuisne.
Ní lú ná mar a bhí tinte cnámh
is an adharc á séideadh ar thaobh na gréine.

Eadrainn bhí an fharraige mhór
atá brónach. Eadrainn
bhí na cnoic is na sléibhte
ná casann ar a chéile.

The Other

You, whoever you are,
you are true, the one
with an ear maybe deep enough
to hear out a woman who tells
of dodging between bullets
to make good her escape.

We didn’t reap summer together
nor share winter quarters.
We didn’t stow our way to America
nor sow wild oats
in regions of unimpeded heat.

We didn’t skim the mountain tops
on a sleek black steed.
We didn’t seek shelter under a rowan
while night hatched plots of hoar frost.
Nor sweltered by a bonfire
with victory’s bugle sounding from on high.

Between us spilled
the salt loneliness of the sea.
Between us rose
hills and mountains out of range.

translated by Dennis O’Driscoll

from Northern Lights (5 December 2018)

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