Verse

Rop soraid in sét-sa...

Rop soraid in sét-sa,
rop sét lessa im lámaib;
Críst credal fri demnaib,
fri armaib, fri áraib!

(may be * smooth/pleasant * the * road-this /
may be * road * of benefit * in my * hands /
Christ * holy * against * demons /
against * weapons * against * slaughters)

May this journey be pleasant,
may it be a journey of profit in my hands;
holy Christ against demons,
against weapons, against slaughters!

This is the first stanza of a poem of three stanzas, possibly composed by Máel Ísu Úa Brolcháin, and edited and translated by Kuno Meyer in Ériu, vol. 6, p. 112.

Áluinn duille an liubhair-si...

Áluinn duille an liubhair-si,
psaltair Cháoimhghin cháidh.
Áille duille mh'iubhair-si
i nGlinn Bolcáin báin.

(beautiful * leaf * of the * book-this /
psalter * of Caoimhín * holy /
more beautiful * leaf * of my yew /
in * Gleann Bolcáin * fair)

Beautiful is the leaf of this book,
the psalter of holy Kevin.
More beautiful the leaf of my yew
in fair Glen Bolcáin.

This stanza is from a poetic exchange between Suibhne Geilt (Mad Sweeney) and Saint Moling, his final protector. The first half stanza is spoken by Moling, the second by Suibhne. The theme of the beauty of the ordered religious life versus the beauties of the wild wood, or untamed nature, is further developed in this poem. This is also a constant theme in the poetic arguments of Oisín and Saint Patrick in the Fiannaíocht, or Fianna Cycle.

Cuilén caitt...

Cuilén caitt
nod·n-aile hé comba haitt;
ó ro·gaib míadugad
téit úait fri fíadugad.

(cub * of cat /
that you raise it * him * that it might be * pleasant /
after * it has gotten * honoring /
it goes * from you * to * acting wild)

A kitten
that you raise to be companionable;
after getting the royal treatment,
it leaves you to go off prowling!

A scribe wrote this little rhyme in the bottom margin of page 164 of the Leabhar Breac (viewable on line at the Irish Script on Screen site). I have added long marks and raised dots and further normalized the spelling in a few places.

Bid co h-eistechtach cailli...

Bid co h-eistechtach cailli,
bid co féchsanach muigi,
oir ní fedrais, mór in mod,
nach biad t' escara it fharrad.

(be * hearingful * of forest /
be * watchful * of plain /
for * not * you know - great * the * deed /
that not * would be * your * enemy * in your * presence)

Keep your ears open in the forest
and your eyes open on the plain,
for you don't know -- this is important --
whether your enemy is near.

This is the eleventh stanza in the poem "Fionn's Advice to Mac Lugach" at the beginning of "Acallam na Senórach". See also "Dá trian do mhíne re mnáibh" in this collection.

Dá trian do mhíne re mnáibh...

Dá trian do mhíne re mnáibh
is re h-echlachuib urláir,
re h-aes dána dénta duan;
nárbhat dian re daescar-shlúagh.

(two * third * of * gentleness * to * women /
and * to * attendants * of floor /
to * folk * of poetry * of making * songs /
be not * severe * to * lowly people)

Two thirds of your gentleness to women,
and to domestic servants,
and to the poets who make songs;
don't be hard on common folk.

This is the third stanza of a poem of thirteen stanzas found in "Acallam na Senórach" (580-606) in which Fionn gives Mac Lugach fatherly advice on how to comport himself as a gentleman.

Maircc chuindges ní for carait...

Maircc chuindges ní for carait
minab lainn leis a tabairt;
is é déde nostá de,
miscais ocus oirbire.

(woeful * who requests * thing * upon * friend /
if not is * desire * with him * its * giving /
is * it * two things * which he has * of it /
hatred * and * reproach)

Woe to him who asks a friend
for something he doesn't wish to give;
the two things he gets for it
are ill feeling and rebuke.

A stanza edited by Kuno Meyer in the series "Mitteilungen as Irischen Handschriften", at ZCP iv.469.

Ropadh maith lem...

Ropadh maith lem
cormlind mór do rígh na rígh;
muinntir nimhe
aca hól tre bithe sír.

(would be * good * with me/
ale-lake * big * for * king * of the * kings/
family * of heaven/
at-its * drinking * through * ages * eternal)

I would like
a great lake of ale for the King of Kings;
and the household of heaven
drinking it throughout eternity.

The first stanza of a Middle Irish poem conventionally attributed to Saint Brigit, edited by David Greene in Celtica, vol. 2, pt. 1. There are a number of early tales that tell of Brigit's miraculous talent for turning bath water into beer and similar exploits.

Cendaig in mes mór...

Cendaig in mes mór
ocus tess in gréin;
cendaig ith is blicht
for slicht cech ríg réil.

(buy * the * mast * great/
and * warmth * of the * sun/
buy * grain * and * milk/
on * track * of every * king * shining)

Earn fruits and nuts in plenty
and the heat of the sun;
earn grain and milk
in the way of every famous king.

This stanza is from "Cert cech ríg co réil", a poem in the "advice to princes" tradition. It gives voice to an idea about kingship that was widely accepted in Early Ireland, namely that the rule of a good king was distinguished not just by justice and wisdom, but also by the fruitful cooperation of the forces of nature. A litany of such benefits in "Audacht Morainn" includes high milk yields, tall grain, the absence of plagues and lightning, and so on. One line says "Is tre fhír flathemon ad- manna mármeso márfhedo -mlasetar": "It is through the justice of the ruler that abundances of great tree-fruit of the great wood are tasted." In our stanza, obtaining abundant mast, or forest produce on which pigs feasted and fattened in autumn, is viewed as a straightforward transaction: if the king rules in accordance with "fír" (truth), he will have earned the generosity of nature.

Ná luig, ná luig...

Ná luig, ná luig
fót fora taí:
gairit bía fair,
fota bía faí.

(not * swear * not * swear/
sod * on which * you are/
short * you will be * on it/
long * you will be * under it)

Do not swear, do not swear
by the sod on which you stand;
a short time you'll be on it,
a long time you'll be under it.

This is the first stanza, edited by James Carney in "Medieval Irish Lyrics", of a five stanza poem on the vanity and brevity of earthly life. This first stanza also stands alone as a marginal note, written in red, in the manuscript Laud Misc. 610, fol. 116 v. Charles Plummer, in "On the Colophons and Marginalia of Irish Scribes" in Proceedings of the British Academy XII, 1926, gives the first line as "Na ling, na ling" and translates it as "Trample not, trample not", but close inspection of the page in question shows that Plummer's reading is clearly mistaken.

Uch a lám...

Uch a lám,
ar scribis de memrum bán!
Béra in memrum fá buaidh,
is bethair-si id benn lom cuail cnám.

(och * o * hand/
all that * you wrote * of * parchment * white/
you will carry * the * parchment * under * fame/
and * you will be * in-your * tip * naked * of heap * of bones)

Alas, hand,
so much white parchment you've written!
You will make the parchment famous,
and you will be the naked tip of a heap of bones.

The comment left by a scribe in the margin of a manuscript he was copying, edited by Kuno Meyer in ZCP 2.225. Such comments are common in Irish manuscripts, a kind of graffiti recording the passing thoughts, feelings and opinions of the scribes. In "Dánfhocail", O'Rahilly gives a later version of this quatrain, as well as another one in the same vein:

Och, a lámh, ón och, a lámh,
ar sgríobhais do mheamram bhán;
mairfidh an meamram fá bhuaidh,
's beir-se san uaigh id chuail chnámh!

Truagh sin, a leabhair bhig bháin,
tiocfaidh an lá, is budh fíor,
déarfaidh neach os cionn do chláir:
"Ní mhaireann an lámh do sgríobh."

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