With Dennis helping hand, I am getting a little further, but even these
relatively simple verses are not wholly unravelled yet. What we have now
seems to be something along the lines of:
> 45. Ō beltaine don taoibh tes
>> rachad go Brīan na nderc glan,
>> ag Murc[h]adh fa n-īadand slōg
>> bet ag ól no go ttī samh.
>> 45. After Beltaine I will go to bright-eyed Brian
to the south side; I will be drinking
with Murchad and the surrounding host
until summer (or until Samhain?).
I have taken extreme liberties with the word order here, as ye can see.
Have I wrenched it entirely free from its intended meaning do ye think?
> 46. Mo chīos ó Mhurchad mac Brīain,
>> ō C[h]onaing, ō C[h]īan romc[h]ar,
>> trī cēd uinge d’ór nīr cniocht,
>> trī cét bō bliocht gacha samh.
> 46. My fee from Murchad mac Briain,
from Conaing, from Cian who loved me
three hundred ounces of un-?? gold
three hundred milking cows each summer.
This is pretty straightforward except for the gold. Unsullied, perhaps?
Unworked? I'm just thinking about what one might reasonably be expected to
specify with regard to gold, though of course, that doesn't follow, since
the function of his 'nior cniocht' is probably more poetic than literal.
The poems that I've been working with, poems that draw on the legendry of
Brian Boroimhe, are all very hung-up on the issue of the poet's reward for
> 47. Mē mac Līag do chengladh síth,
>> ollamh Brīain, is as fír damh,
>> is as lem leathgōala mo rígh
>> ō s˙amoin no go ttī samh. Sam.
>> 47. I am Mac Liag who would bind the peace,
Brian’s poet, it is true,
and I possess the leathgóala of my king
from November till summer. Samh.
> I'm not sure off hand what the word means, but the line is "and I possess
> the leathgóala of my king".
This leathgoala that MacLiag is supposed to possess would seem to involve
maybe something like protection while he is absent, or permission to be
absent from Brian's court. I looked up *goala* under the assumption that *
leath* meant 'half', but can't find anything under that either. Suggestions,
Many thousand thanks to Dennis and to Liz, who have been at the forefront of
the work on this poem. My thanks also to the many others who have
contributed along the way. As I mentioned a verse or two back, I feel that
our poor poem is currently quivering on the dissecting table, with learned
scholars and eager amateurs happily poking at its exposed entrails. I would
love to see it all lovingly brought back together again and reconstituted
with grace to flourish in the language of ignorant Sassenachs like myself.
I don't think our venue is designed to carry a work very much further along
that road, though. What happens now? I was asked for a summary a while
back, and put up something that covered up to our battles in Donegal. Will
I continue that summary to bring us up to the end? Should I dress it out a
little more? Should I put up the whole poem with verses in their most
Question: Are all Early Modern Irish poems this difficult? There are lots
of translations out there of poems of this period. Did their translators
all just not let us know about ambiguities and guesswork, or are there
people who have so mastered that particular branch of language, that to them
it's as easy as The Cat sat on the Mat?
My best to all,