Fil súil nglais
fégbas Érinn dar a hais;
noco n-aicébá íarmothá
firu Érenn nách a mná.
(there is * an eye * blue / (that) will behold * Ireland * behind it /
not * will see * henceforth / men * of Ireland * nor * her * women)
There is a blue eye
that will look back at Ireland;
never again will it see
the men of Ireland or her women.
This verse is put in the mouth of St. Colum Cille as he sailed into exile from Ireland.
Céin mair ailén mora máir:
dosn-icc tuile íarna tráig;
os mé, ní frescu dom-í
tuile tar éis n-aithbi.
(long * live * island * of sea * great / comes to it * flood tide * after its * ebbing / as for * me * not * expectation * (that) it may come to me / flood tide * after * ebb)
Lucky the island of the great sea:
flood tide returns to it after ebb;
as for me, I have no hope that
flood will follow ebb for me.
This is the closing stanza of "Aithbe Dam", a poem usually called "The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare" in English. In it an aged woman who was once a great beauty looks back on her life with pride and regret.
Cid glic fri hailchi úara,
cid sáer ac imirt béla,
cid binn a dord fri dúana,
do chúala as borb nat léga.
(although * clever * at * stones * cold / although * a craftsman * at * plying * of an axe / although * sweet * his * vocalizing * at * songs / I heard * is * rude * that not * reads)
Though clever with cold stones,
though a craftsman with an axe,
though sweet his singing voice,
I've heard he is dull who does not read.
Another verse like the one before, edited by Kuno Meyer in ZCP.
Síd co nem,
nem co domun,
domun fo nim,
nert i cách.
(peace * to * heaven / heaven * to * earth / earth * under * heaven / strength * in * each one)
Peace to heaven,
heaven to earth,
earth under heaven,
strength in each.
Spoken by the Morrígan in "Cath Maige Tuired" after the great battle.
frismad buide limm díuterc,
ara tibrinn in mbith uile,
a meicc Maire, cid díupart.
(there is * person /
at whom would be * gratification * with me * gazing /
for whom * I would give * the * world * all /
o * son * of Mary * although were * fraud)
There is one
on whom I would gladly gaze,
for whom I would give the whole world,
O Son of Mary, though it were a bad bargain.
With this verse, Gráinne tells the old and jealous Finn of her passion for the young warrior Díarmait. The verse is found in LU (514-17), where variants of the third and fourth lines are noted:
... in mbith mbuide (... the golden world)
uile, uile, cid díupert. (all, all, though it were a bad bargain)
Techt do Róim,
mór saítho, bec torbai.
In rí chon-daigi i foss,
manim-bera latt, ní fogbai.
(going * to * Rome / a great deal * of hardship * little * of profit / the * king * that you seek * there / if not him - you carry * with you * not * you find)
Going to Rome,
great hardship, little profit.
You won't find the king you seek there
unless you take him with you.
A ninth century verse preserved in the Codex Boernerianus.
Ro·cúala ní·tabair eochu ar dúana;
do·beir a n-í as dúal dó: bó.
(I have heard * not gives * horses * for * poems/ gives * the * thing * that is * natural * for him * a cow)
I have heard he doesn't give horses for poems;
he gives the thing that fits his nature: a cow.
Professional poets wrote for noble patrons, who paid for their songs of praise with gifts, some more elegant and costly than others. This witty ninth century ditty, collected in Irische Texte, satirizes the cheapskate. The fact that a poem ("dúan") is entitled to its reward ("dúas") is encapsulated in the saying "Eochair dúaisi dúana" = "The key to rewards is poems", found among the other "eochair" maxims at ZCP vi.270. See also "Fochen aí..." in this collection.
benar i n-aidchi gaíthe:
ferr limm dul ina dáil
indás i ndáil mná baíthe.
(little bell * sweet / (that) is rung * in * a night * of wind / was * better * with me * going * in its * meeting / than * in * meeting * of woman * lustful)
A sweet little bell
that is rung on a windy night:
I would rather go to meet it
than to meet a lustful woman.
A ninth century monastic poem.
in gním hí do-rigé
an ro-charus ro-cráidius.
(without * pleasure / the * deed * it * (that) I have done / that * which I have loved * I have tormented)
in the deed I've done:
the one I've loved I've pained.
A verse from the romantic poem "Comrac Líadaine ocus Cuirithir", which tells of the psychologically complicated and eventually thwarted love affair of a woman and a man who were both poets.
Am gáeth i mmuir,
Am tonn trethan,
Am fuaim mara...
(I am * wind * in * sea / I am * wave * of stormy sea / I am * sound * of sea)
I am a wind on the sea,
I am a wave of the tempest,
I am the sound of the sea...
When the Sons of Míl come from across the sea to take possession of Ireland, they are accompanied by their chief poet and judge, Amairgen. These are the first lines of an incantation that he utters when he first sets foot on their new land.