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Tiny harp

To A Harp

Gofraidh Fionn Ó Dálaigh



Irish feastThe following is written in praise of a famous harp. The owner may have been Diarmaid, son of Donnchadh Mág Eochagain, Lord of Cenél Fiachach, in Westmeath. Diarmaid, who died in 1392, succeeded his brother Fearghal in 1382. As the poet … died in 1387, the last quatrain, referring to the owner by his official title, would point to a date 1382 to 1387. Cnoc Í Chosgair is no doubt the modern Knockycosker, in the barony of Mycashel (the ancient Cenél Fiachach) …

The poet identifies the harp with the famous instruments of ancient romance, recalling their names, for in old days musical instruments, weapons, etc. had proper names, as ships have now ...

The author is Gofraidh Fionn Ó Dálaigh, 'Ireland's arch-professor of poetry', who died in 1387. He was professional poet to the MacCarthys, to the Earls of Desmond, and to the O'Briens of Thomond.



1. A chláirsioch Chnuic Í Chosgair
chuirios súan ar síorrosgaibh,
a nuallánach bhinn bhlasda,
ghrinn fhuaránach fhorasda.
 
O harp of Cnoc Í Chosgair
that bringest sleep to eyes long wakeful,
thou of the sweet and delicate moan,
pleasant, refreshing, grave.
 
2. A chlár buadha as bláith mínlearg,
a mhonghárach mhéirfhírdhearg,
a cheóladhach do chealg sinn,
a dhearg leómhanach láinbhinn
 
O choice instrument of the smooth, gentle curve,
thou that criest under red fingers,
musician that hast enchanted us,
red harp, high-souled, perfect in melody.
 
3. A bhrégadh eóin a healta
a fhionnfhuaradh aigionta
a dhonn bhionnfhoclach bhallach,
lonn iongantach iodhlannach.
 
Thou that lurest the bird from the flock,
that coolest the heart,
brown, sweet-speaking speckled one,
fervent, wondrous, passionate.
 
4. A leighios gach laoich ghonta,
a shogh brégtha banntrachta,
a eól gnáthach ós goirmlinn,
a cheól fáthach foghairbhinn.
 
Thou healer of every wounded warrior,
charm that beguilest women,
familiar guide over the dark water,
music mystic and sweet.
 
5. A bháthadh gacha croinn chiúil,
a chrann taitneamhach taidhiúir,
a chomhnaidhi eidir chloinn gCoinn,
a chroinn donnbhuidhi dhíoghainn.
 
Thou silencer of all instruments of music,
shining, tuneful instrument,
thou dweller among the children of Conn,
thou stout dark-yellow tree.
 
6. A aoinleannán na n-eólach,
a chorrach bhláith bhinncheólach,
a rélta chorcra ós cionn síodh,
a mhionn ochta na n-airdríogh.
 
Thou favourite of the learned,
restless smooth one, sweetly musical,
red star over elfmounds,
breast-jewel of the High Kings.
 
7. A sgatha binne boga,
a chláirsioch dhonn Diarmada,
a chruth gan fhúath ó fheadhain,
a ghuth cúach a gcéiteamhain.
 
O sweet and gentle flowers!
O brown harp of Diarmaid,
O shape dear to every company,
thou voice of the cuckoos in May.
 
8. Ni chúala ceól mar do chronn,
tar éis Túaithi Dé Danann;
a chraobh dhonnloghach dhata,
chaomh fhorbharach allata.
 
I have heard of no music like thy structure
after the Tuatha Dé Danann,
O branch dark and fine,
lovely, broad-shouldered, glorious.
 
9. A fhúaim trágha ré toinn cciúin,
a chrann fosgadhghlan fírchiúil,
fleadha 'gá n-ól it fhochair,
a ghlór eala ós fhionnshrothaibh.
 
O sound of the beach against the gentle wave,
shadowy tree of true melody,
feasts are consumed beside thee,
O voice of the swan on bright streams.
 
10. A núall ban sídhe a Síth Lir,
's gan ceól do chor at aighidh,
ód threóir as téidbhinn gach teach,
a chéidrinn cheóil na gcláirsioch.
 
O cry of fairy women from the mound of Lear,
no music can match thine;
under thy guidance every house is sweet-stringed,
thou pinnacle of harp-music.
 
11. Nó no as tú an Áisioch Fhalláin,
an Mhíonghlórach Mhanannáin,
ríoghna súarca ag tríall it theach,
do mhían do chúarta, a chláirsioch
 
Or else thou are the Áisioch Fhalláin ("Healthful Ease'),
Manannán's Míonghlórach ("Smooth-voiced),
gracious queens go to thy house
to visit thee, O harp.
 
 
12. Nó as tú do bhí ag Aonghus Óg
i mBrugh Bóinni na míonród—
cuirfidh sé snaidhm ar eólach—
fa hé th'ainm an Ilcheólach.
 
Or Aonghus had thee
in Brugh na Bóinne (Newgrange), where the roads are smooth,
it will perplex a scholar—
the Ilcheólach ("of many melodies") was thy name.
 
13. Ó Mhanannán tar muir mall
cláirsioch mar thu fuair Fionnbharr—
nír féadadh snaidhm badh socra—
darbh ainm Brégadh Banntrachta.
 
From Manannán over the calm sea
Fionnbharr got a harp like thee—
no safer bond could be found—
named Brégadh Banntrachta ("Beguiler of Ladies").
 
14. Tú Ballchaomh Bhuadha Bhuidhbh Dheirg,
iomdha ball corcra id chaoimhleirg,
ball chaomh ód thochta gach teach,
a lannchraobh chorcra, a chláirsioch.
 
Thou was Bodhbh Dearg's magic Ball-chaomh ("Fair-limbed"),
many is the crimson spot in thy lovely curve,
from thy coming every house is flecked with loveliness,
O crimson plaited branch, O harp.
 
15. Féithchiúin Ilbhreic Easa Ruaidh,
cláirsioch chruthach cheóil fhionnfhuair,
ciúin do labhair ar gach leath,
samhail do chiúil, a chláirsioch.
 
The Féithchiúin ("calm and still") of Ilbhreac of Assaroe,
shapely harp of cooling melody,
calmly it spoke on every side
music like thine, O harp.
 
16. Badh í an Téidbhinn th'ainm oile
ag mac Donnchaidh Dhormhaighi;
tug tú do thédaibh 'na theach
gur mhédaigh do chlú, a chláirsioch.
 
Thy other name will be the Téid-bhinn ("Sweet-stringed"),
when the son of Donnchadh of Durrow has thee;
such strings thou didst bring into his house
that thy fame increased, O harp.
 
17. Do-bhéram ainm nua anosa
ort, a chláirsioch chéadnasa,
réidh ód chlú troimfhearg troda,
as tú Doinndearg Dhiarmada.
 
Now we shall give another name
to thee, O selfsame harp;
by thy fame battle's stern rage is still,
thou art Diarmaid's Doinndearg ("Dark-red").
 
18. Ag Diarmait as dócha dhuit
bheith fa chlú, a chláirsioch orrdhruic;
ní haigionta tnúdh ré a theach,
ní múr caigiolta cláirsioch.
 
In Diarmaid's possession it is most likely
that thou shouldst be famous, O noble harp;
it were unnatural to be envious of his house,
it is no castle where harps are hidden.
 
19. A Í Chonchobhair chathrach Coinn,
a mheic mheic Í Mhaoil Eachloinn,
daoine sona ag tnúdh réd theach,
do mhúr as cora cláirsioch.
 
O'Conor of Conn's city!
grandson of O'Melaghlin,
happy men envy thy house,
thy castle is a weir of harps.
 
20. Adhmoladh Coluim Chille,
ní fhuil ceól as coimmbinne,
béraidh sé re seal nguidhi
mé go Teagh na Trócaire.
 
The eulogy of Colum Cille,
there is no music sweeter throughout,
it will bring me at the time of prayer
to the House of Mercy.
 
21. Aoghuiriocht Pheadair Phuirt Grég
lór liom ar chion dum choimhéd,
ar ar gcúl do chrann smachta,
thall i ndún na diadhachta.
 
The shepherding of Peter of the Grecian Port
I deem sufficient to keep me from sin,
behind me thy restraining staff,
yonder in the Fort of Divinity.
 
22. Ar mhéid meadhreach a mhúir chuirr
Mháig Eochagain fhúair urruim
biaidh cnoc lomnán ar gach leath
d'orghán a chrot 's a chláirsioch.
 
So great is the mirth in the smooth dwelling
of Mageoghegan who won reverence,
that there will be a bare hill on every side
from the playing of his harps.
 

Osborn Bergin
Irish Bardic Poetry
Dolmen Press, 1970
No. 15



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