“Lúb ar Lár” and other poems by Máire Dinny Wren

Lúb ar Lár and other poems by Máire Dinny Wren. Original Irish versions followed by English translations by Máire Dinny Wren and Kathryn Daily

Ar an Chladach Dhearóil

Is cuimhin liom a bheith ag snámh,
Is cuimhin liom a bheith ar an tanalacht,
Is cuimhin liom a bheith ar an doimhneacht,
Is cuimhin liom a bheith i mbéal cuain.

Ní cuimhin liom an t-uisce á thruailliú,
Ní cuimhin liom ag ithe micreachoirníní,
Ní cuimhin liom mo shláinte ag meath,
Ní cuimhin liom a bheith cloíte.

Is cuimhin liom a bheith ar ghrinneall na habhna,
Is cuimhin liom a bheith ag léimtí as an uisce,
Is cuimhin liom na hiascairí ar an bhruach,
Is cuimhin liom a bheith ag snámh in éadan an easa.

Ní cuimhin liom na lanntracha á scoitheadh,
Ní cuimhin liom cár chaill mé na heití,
Ní cuimhin liom ag fás cnámha saorga,
Ní cuimhin liom an claochlú.

Is cuimhin liom a bheith san uisce ghléghlan,
Is cuimhin liom an fiadhúlra muirí,
Is cuimhin liom a bheith ag sealgaireacht,
Is cuimhin liom a bheith folláin.

 

On the bleak shore

I remember swimming,
I remember being in the shallows,
I remember being in the depths,
I remember being in the mouth of the harbour.

I don’t remember the polluting of the waters,
I don’t remember eating microbeads,
I don’t remember my health failing,
I don’t remember being overcome.

I remember being on the riverbed,
I remember leaping from the water,
I remember the fishermen on the bank,
I remember swimming against the current.

I don’t remember shedding scales,
I don’t remember where I lost my fins,
I don’t remember growing artificial bones,
I don’t remember the metamorphosis.

I remember being in the bright, clear water,
I remember the wild marine creatures,
I remember foraging for food,
I remember being in the pink.

I don’t remember being swept by the current,
I don’t remember being at my lowest ebb,
I don’t remember being deformed,
I don’t remember the degeneration.

Now I’m disfigured and wretched,
Slowly wearing away between pieces of plastic,
My kind being wiped out by humans,
Our bones scattered on the bleak shore.

This translation is © Máire Dinny Wren


Ag an Tobar Bheannaithe

Char nocht breac, bradán ná eascann
ag bun an tobair bheannaithe
nuair a thug tú cuairt air
i dtús an fhómhair.

Char shiúil tú ar deiseal,
char dhúirt tú urnaí,
char iarr tú achainí
ach d’ól tú bolgam den fhíoruisce

is tháinig an ghrian as na néalta
is spréigh sí a solas niamhrach
anuas ó neamh go talamh
ag cur loinnir luisneach ar an uisce.

Chrom an crann coill a ghéaga
is bhronn eagnaíocht dhiaga ort
is cheol tú amhrán ó do chroí
mar chomhartha umhlaíochta.

 

At the Holy Well

Neither trout nor salmon nor eel
Revealed at the bottom of the holy well
When you went there to visit
At the start of Autumn.

You didn’t walk with the sun,
Nor did you pray.
You didn’t make a wish, but sipped
a mouthful of the clean clear water

As the sun spilled from the clouds
Throwing bright light
From the heavens down to earth
Making the water glisten.

The oak bowed its branches
Bestowing divine wisdom,
And you sang from your heart
As a sign of submission.

This translation is © Máire Dinny Wren


An tÉan Dara

Mheall tú an t-éan as dair chaoráin,
mhúnlaigh tú an t-adhmad cruaidh,
á ghlanadh is á bhláthnú,
go dtáinig tú ar an smólach.

Cheap tú spiorad an éin fhiáin
san adhmad chianaosta;
chuala tú a ghlór —
a cheol binn as na móinteáin.

uig tusa agus an t-éan a chéile
agus sibh araon sáinnithe;
tusa gafa san aois leanbaí,
an t-éan i ndoimhneacht an fhraochlaigh.

Mairfidh spiorad an éin sa dair chaoráin
mar a mhairfidh do spiorad i ngéaga do theaghlaigh.

 

The Oak Bird

You scoured the moorland
until you found the skylark,
calming and consoling her,
you freed her from the heath.

You captured the wild bird’s spirit,
and released her from the hard black wood.
You could hear her sweet voice,
melodious on the moor.

You and the bird were kindred,
both trapped in your own worlds,
you snared in your second childhood,
the bird buried in the deep heath.

The bird’s spirit will live in the bog oak
as your spirit will live in the branches of your kin.

This translation is © Máire Dinny Wren


Cantaireacht na Murúch

Chualathas cantaireacht chiúin na murúch
mar gholtraí os cionn chrónán na dtonn,
sular nocht siad ar an tsnámh
ar imeall tíre fá bhéal na trá.

Chonacthas iad ag folcadh sa tsáile
is ag cíoradh a gcuacha cuanna,
ag lupadán lapadán sa lán mara,
is ag meidhir i measc muranáin maranáin.

Bhí cuid acu a scoith a gcuid lanntracha,
is a d’éalaigh as an duibheagán,
is a mhair tráth os cionn uisce,
amhail leannán agus máithreacha.

Chualathas cantaireacht chaoinbhinn na murúch
á maolú ag fraoch na farraige,
a nglórtha ag meathlú le gach marbhshruth
is an taoide á dtointeáil idir muir is tír.

 

Mermaid Chant

The faint singing of the mermaids was heard
Like a lament coming over the waves,
before they appeared on the surface,
at the edge of the shore by the strand.

They were seen bathing in the sea
combing their fine hair,
splashing in the full tide
and frisking among little sea creatures.

There were some who shed their scales
escaping from the depths,
living for a time on dry land
becoming lovers and mothers.

The sweet faint singing of the mermaids was heard,
dampened by the fury of the waves,
their voices fading with each turn of the tide
as they flip-flopped between land and sea.

This translation is © Máire Dinny Wren


An Marthanóir

Cuireadh faoi ghlas mé,
baineadh m’ainm díom,
baineadh díom mo chuid gruaige,
baineadh solas an lae díom,
baineadh díom laetha geala m’óige.

Cuireadh i mbun oibre mé,
ag ní braillíní línéadaigh
ag sruthlú is ag fáscadh,
ag smúdáil is ag filleadh,
mar bhreithiúnas aithrí ar mo pheaca.

Níorbh eol domh an t-am de lá,
níorbh eol domh béile folláin,
níorbh eol domh luach mo shaothair,
níorbh eol domh scolaíocht,
níorbh eol domh ceanúlacht ná teochroí.

Scartha ó mo theaghlach grámhar,
scoite ó mo mhuintir,
bhí mé croíbhriste le huaigneas,
is mé fágtha mar dhílleachta,
cha raibh ionam ach páiste,
cha raibh ionam ach sclábhaí!

 

Survivor

I was locked up,
my name taken from me,
my hair shorn,
daylight shut out,
the happy days of my youth stolen.

They put me to work,
washing linen sheets,
rinsing and wringing,
ironing and folding,
as punishment for my sin.

I did not know the time of day
or savour a wholesome meal,
received no wages for my effort,
nor get any schooling,
I was shown no warmth or kindness.

Denied a loving family
Separated from my people,
heartbroken and homesick,
left as an orphan,
I was only a child,
I was only a slave!

This translation is © Máire Dinny Wren


Lúb ar Lár

Bhí clic cleaic na ndealgán
chomh rialta le tic teaic an chloig
i gcistin mo mháthara
agus í féin ‘s mo mhóraí
ina suí cois teallaigh.
Agus an banachas tí uilig déanta,
bhí geansaithe Árann le cniotáil acu
do mhuintir Chinnéide Ard an Rátha.

Mise i mo luspairt linbh
mar bheadh uan óg ann
ag meidhir i ngan fhios daofa
le cuach olann íon faoin mbord
go dtí gur thit mé as mo sheasamh
agus gur síneadh mé
ó lúb go ladhar ar an urlár –
an snáth mín cuachta thart orm.

Thóg mo mháthair suas mé
mar thógfadh sí lúb ar lár;
bhain sí an snáth as an aimhréití
is rinne cion croí liom
agus shuigh ar stól beag mé;
ansin agus a humhail ar a ceird,
d’aithris sí finscéal
Cheamach na Luatha Buí dom.

Phioc mise na sméara dubha
agus bhlais mé an chíor mheala
a bhí á gcniotáil aici
i bpatrún an gheansaí Árann.
Shamhail mé an Cheamach gléasta
ag imeacht i gcóiste
‘s thit mé i mo chodladh is mo chloigeann ar a glúine,
ceol na ndealgán mar shuantraí agam.

Nuair a mhuscail mé,
bhí deireadh na gcutaí tochrasta
’s mo mháthair ’s mo mhóraí faoi shuan;
gan bun cleite amach ná barr cleite isteach
sna geansaithe a chniotáil siad
do lucht an rathúnais.
Cé gur bheag a gcúiteamh
ba mhór é agus an bhróg ag teannadh.

Corruair, i sciortaí an mheán oíche
’s mé ag coigilt na tine,
faighimse spléachadh
ar na lámha aclaí i mbun a gceird
’s cloisim drandán na ndealgán
’s na mná ag canadh ’s ag gáirí.
Ach inniu tá na dealgáin díomhaoin
’s na geansaithe á gcniotáil ag meaisín.

 

Dropped Stitch

The click clack of the knitting needles
Was as regular as the tick tock of the clock
In my mother’s kitchen,
As she and my grandmother
Sat by the fireside,
Their housework all done
They had Aran jumpers to knit
For the Kennedy’s of Ardara.

I but a soft young child
Like a little lamb sporting on the floor
With the ball of pure wool
Unknown to them
Until I tripped and fell over
And lay flat out on the floor
The soft wool wound around me
From head to toe.

My mother picked me up
Like she’d pick up a dropped stitch;
She untangled the wool
And she hugged me closely
And then sat me on a little stool;
And while she continued her work
She told me the fairytale
about Cinderella.

I picked the blackberries
And I tasted the honeycomb
That she was knitting into
The pattern of the Aran jumper
I imagined Cinderella dressed up
And going off in the coach –
And I fell asleep my head in her lap

This translation is © Kathryn Daily

Lúb ar Lár and other poems are © Máire Dinny Wren


The writer Máire Dinny Wren is from Gaoth Dobhair in Co. Donegal. She writes poetry and short stories. Coiscéim published her first collection of poetry, Ó Bhile go Bile, in 2011. Éabhlóid published her collection of short stories, Go mbeinnse choíche saor, in 2016 and Éabhlóid also published her second poetry collection, Tine Ghealáin in 2019.
Her work has been published in Duillí Éireann, Comhar, an tUltach, Feasta, The Bramley, Strokestown Poetry Anthology 3 and four of her stories were published by Éabhlóid in the short story collection, Go dtí an lá bán in 2012.
Máire has won many literary prizes over the years, including, comórtas filíochta Focail Aniar Aduaidh in  2017 for her poem ‘An Fidléir’. In 2016 she won the Gael Linn poetry competition Ó Pheann na nGael. She won Comórtas Filíochta Uí Néill in 2011 and one of her poems was on the short list for Duais de hÍde in 2019.
She was the winner of duais Fhoras na Gaeilge ag Listowel Writers’ Week in 2010 with her short story ‘Ag Téarnamh chun Baile’. A radio adaption of her short story ‘Thar an Tairseach’ was broadcast by Drama on One, RTÉ radio and was shortlisted for Prix Europa 2013.