Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 20 October 2008

  • Ceist na Teangan | The Language Issue

    I place my hope on the water
    in this little boat
    of the language, the way a body might put
    an infant

    in a basket of intertwined
    iris leaves,
    its underside proofed
    with bitumen and pitch,

    then set the whole thing down amidst
    the sedge
    and bulrushes by the edge
    of a river

    only to have it borne hither and thither,
    not knowing where it might end up;
    in the lap, perhaps,
    of some Pharaoh’s daughter.

     

    by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill | translated by Paul Muldoon

    From An Leabhar Mòr: The Great Book of Gaelic, © the author. Reprinted in An Leabhar Mòr by kind permission of the author and the Gallery Press, Loughcrew, Ireland.

    Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill was born in Lancashire in 1952 and brought up in Ireland. Her collections include An Dealg Droighin, Pharaoh’s Daughter, Feis and Cead Aighnis. She is also a playwright and screenwriter and has won many prizes for her work.

    Featuring the work of more than 200 poets, calligraphers and artists, An Leabhar Mòr is a unique collection of Irish and Gaelic poetry, from the sixth century to the present day, and includes the earliest Gaelic poem in existence.

    Poets include Iain Crichton Smith, Louis de Paor, Sorley MacLean, Aonghas Dubh MacNeacail, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Máirtín Ó Direáin. Each poem appears in the original Irish or Gaelic, accompanied by an English translation. The poems were selected by well-known poets Seamus Heaney, Hamish Henderson and Alastair MacLeod, and by the contributing poets themselves. One hundred artists (50 from each country) were specially commissioned to produce an original and individual work of art to complement each poem. They include Robert Ballagh, Steven Campbell, Shane Cullen, Alan Davie, Rita Duffy and Alasdair Gray.

    The O’Brien Press is one of Ireland’s leading trade publishers. A wide selection of free teaching resources for this title, together with audio clips of some poets reading their work and musical renditions of some of the poems, is available from the website. This title and all O’Brien Press books are available to buy direct from the website or from Amazon.