In a message dated 97-04-21 02:51:14 EDT, you write:
<< I have to turn "Kings, Lords and Commons" back in tomorrow, so I'd
thought I'd share the following. BTW, I'd be interested if anyone knows
anything about O'Rahilly's life (he's out of my time-period, but wrote
some damn good poetry). >>
Aoga/n O/ Rathaille (Egan O'Rahilly) was born in the Sliabh Luachra district
near Killarney around 1675. It is believed that his family was connected to
the Egans who had been traditional ollaves to the McCarthymore family. His
family were relatively well off and may have rented a large parcel of land
from Sir Nicholas Browne. The Brownes were Elizabethan planter stock , but
they were Catholic, Jacobite and sympathetic to the native Irish. After the
Battle of the Boyne in 1690, their estates were confiscated for the lifetime
of Sir Nicholas. As a result O/ Rathaille had to leave the area. He
eventually died in poverty in 1729.
One aspect of O/ Rathaille poetry is his political aisling poetry. The Aisling
or vision poem was written for political purposes at that time. The were
waiting for the Jacobites, who were Catholic, to return and save them. Many
of the aislingi portrayed Ireland as a young woman waiting to be saved by the
Jacobite hero. The following is believed to the earliest of his three major ai
Gile na Gile (Brightness Most Bright)
Brightness most bright I beheld on the way, forlorn.
Crystal of crystal her eye, blue touched with green.
Sweetness most sweet her voice, not stern with age.
Colour and pallor appeared in her flushed cheeks.
Curling and curling, each strand of her yellow hair
as it took the dew from the grass in its ample sweep;
a jewel more glittering than glass on her high bosom
-created, when she was created, in a higher world.
True tidings she revealed, most forlorn,
tidings of one returning by royal right,
tidings of the crew ruined who drove him out,
and tidings I keep from my poem for sheer fear.
Foolish past folly, I came to her very presence
bound tightly, her prisoner (she likewise a prisoner...)
I invoked Mary's Son for succour: she sarted from me
and vanished like light to the fairy dwelling of Luachair.
Heart pounding, I ran, with a frantic haste in my race,
by the margins of marshes, through swamps, over bare moors.
To a powerful palace I came, by paths most strange,
to that place of all places, erected by druid magic.
All in derision they tittered - a gang of goblins
and a bevy of slender maidens with twining tresses.
They bound me in bonds, denying the slightest comfort,
and a lumbering brute took hold of my girl by the breasts.
I said to her then, in words that were full of truth,
low improper it was to join with that drawn gaunt creature
when a man most fine, thrice over, of Scottish blood
was willing to take her as her tender bride.
On hearing my voice she wept in high misery
and flowing tears fell down from her flushed cheeks.
She sent me a guard to guide me out of the palace
- that brightness most bright I beheld on the way, forlorn
Pain, disaster, downfall, sorrow and loss!
Our mild, bright, delicate, loving, fresh-lipped girl
with one of that black, horned, foreign, hate-crested crew
and no remedy near till our lions come over the sea.
Translated by Thomas Kinsella
If you are looking for more information of poetry by O/ Rathaille, you might
try to find
An Duanaire 1600-1900: Poems of the Dispossessed by Sea/n O/ Tuama and Thomas
Kinsella. (ISBN 0-937702-02-1) This book contains both the original Irish and
the English translations.
Another source of information would be Danile Corkery's The Hidden Ireland