Is dobrán re miníascach
seobacc re hénaib sléibe,
catt re lochaid, cú re muicc,
ben micc is máthair chéile.
(it is * otter * against * little fish /
hawk * against * birds * of mountain /
cat * against * mouse * dog * against * pig /
wife * of son * and * mother * in-law)
Like an otter with little fishes,
a hawk with mountain birds,
a cat with a mouse, a dog with a pig,
a son's wife and her mother-in-law!
A verse edited by Kuno Meyer in ZCP 6.268.
fri cach n-indmas acht mo delg:
mo delg cia théis triam' dernainn,
ferg fri suide ní dernaim.
(takes-me * anger /
against * every * possession * but * my * brooch /
my * brooch * although * you might go * through my * palm /
anger * against * that * not * I would do)
I get angry
at everything I own except my brooch:
my brooch, even though you went through my palm,
I could not get angry at that.
In medieval Ireland people wore brooches at the shoulder to hold their "bratt" or mantle in place. Some of these functional pieces of jewelry were ostentatiously large, elaborately wrought, and equiped with long stout pins that could inflict real damage on the unwary. But they were costly adornments that signaled the status of the wearer, so they were cherished despite their dangerous points! This stanza comes from Meyer's Primer.
Masa brec gach dan suad,
is brec brat 's as brec biad;
's as brec an domhan uli,
's as brec fos an duine criad.
(if is * lie * every * poem * of sages /
is * lie * cloak * and * is * lie * food /
and * is * lie * the * world * all /
and * is * lie * yet * the * man * of clay)
If the poems of the wise are lies,
clothing and food are lies;
and the whole world is a lie,
and even man of clay is a lie.
This judgment in favor of poetry and poets is put in the mouth of Colum Cille by Maghnus Ó Domhnaill in his 16th century biography "Betha Colaim Chille".
A rí rind,
cid dub mo thech nó cid find,
nocho n-íadfaither fri nech
nár' íada Críst a thech frimm.
(O * king * of stars /
though * dark * my * house * or * though * bright /
not * it will be closed * against * anyone /
that not * may close * Christ * his * house * against me)
O King of stars!
Though my house be dark or bright,
it shall not be closed to anyone
so that Christ may not close his house to me.
A verse from the Lebar Brecc, quoted by Kuno Meyer in "A Primar of Early Irish Metrics".
Is úar gáeth
i ndorus tige na lláech;
batar inmaine laích
bítis etrainn ocus gaíth.
(is * cold * wind / in * door * of house * of the * warriors / were * dear * warriors / (that) were * between us * and * wind)
The wind is cold
in the doorway of the warriors' house;
beloved were the warriors
who stood between us and the wind.
This elegiac verse is recited by Rónán in the tragic tale "Fingal Rónáin".
lín tonn tibri tar muir glan;
At-chíu cadéin i mMaig Mon
scotha cennderga cen on.
(sees * Bran / number * of waves * that break * across * sea * clean / I see * (my)self * in * Mag Mon / flowers * red-headed * without * blemish)
countless waves breaking across a clear sea;
Myself I see on the Plain of Mon
the red tops of flawless flowers.
This verse is found in the tale "Immram Brain". Manannán, the sea god, contrasts what the mortal Bran sees from his little boat with how he himself views the same scene from his sea-going chariot.
cía lassa fífea Etan;
ro-fetar Etan bán,
nochon fhífea a hoenarán.
(not * is known / who * with * will sleep * Etan / but * I know * Etan * fair-haired / not * will sleep * by herself)
who Etan will sleep with?
But I know fair Etan.
She will not sleep alone.
A playful rhyme, collected in several slightly varying versions in Irische Texte.
Bid éicne brecc i llinn lán,
Bid rón, bid ela finnbán.
(he will be * a salmon * speckled * in * pool * full / he will be * a seal * he will be * a swan * fair-white)
He will be a speckled salmon in a brimming pool,
He will be a seal, he will be a fair white swan.
A prediction of Mongán's shape-shifting abilities from "Immram Brain", one of numerous instances in Early Irish literature of characters taking on, or being reborn into, animal forms.
Tan bím eter mo shruithe
am teist ergaire cluiche;
tan bím eter in áes mer
do-muinet is mé a n-oíser.
(when * I am * among * my * elders / I am * evidence * of prohibition * of play / when * I am * among * the * folk * crazy / they think * is * I * their * junior)
When I am among my seniors
I am proof that play is forbidden;
when I am among the crazy kids,
they think that I'm their junior.
This anonymous 10th century verse is placed in the mouth of Mo Ling, a popular early saint.
Duibithir dath a berrtha
bruinde brain, brollach n-aidchi,
édgad luin, lúaithe ngaimche,
caera finchi, fúan fuinche.
(as black as * color * of his haircut /
as breast * of raven * bosom * of night /
clothing * of blackbird * ashes * of winter night (?) /
berries * of vine (?) / tunic * of scaldcrow)
The color of his hair is as black
as a raven's breast, as the bosom of night,
as a blackbird's garment, as the ashes of a winter night,
as the berries of the vine, as a scaldcrow's tunic.
This stanza, a bit of a tour de force which manages to fit the archaic alliterative rosc style into the common seven-syllable lines of the classical dán díreach, was edited by Kuno Meyer in ZCP vol. 9, but not translated. A couple of the words are problematical, but the overall sense is clear.