An Tine Bheo – The Burning Fire, and other poems by Áine Uí Fhoghlú

An Cailín i Siopa na mBláth

Osclaíonn sí agus dúnann sí
dallóga gach lá
análann sí cumhracht
criosantamam is gasanna
féachann thart uirthi
mar a seasann dhá rós déag dearg
go dóchasach
ina mbuicéad stáin

bláthaíonn gach séasúr
in éineacht ina gairdín
scarann na tiúlaipí
a mbeola
is beireann scéalta
ón ísiltír chúici
néataíonn sí na cártaí beaga
a fhógraíonn focail
a bhíonn deacair a rá
is féachann ar na
ribíní gorma is bándearga
a bheidh le ceangailt

déanfaidh sí cúpla fleasc inniu
do thragóid éigin nár tharla fós
is nuair a thiocfaidh cúig chun a sé
scuabfaidh sí suas
na piotail a thit
tarraingeoidh sí an doras ina diaidh
is fágfaidh ócáidí an todhchaí
slán fé ghlas
go maidin.

An Liú sa Chuan (Coiscéim 2007)


The Girl in the Flower Shop

She opens and closes
shutters every day
breathes the perfume
of chrysanthemums and stems
looks around her
at twelve red roses
standing hopefully
in a tin bucket

in her garden every season
blossoms in harmony
tulips part their lips
and bring her stories from
the lowlands
she neatens little cards
carrying words
that are difficult to say
and looks at the pink
and blue ribbons
yet to be tied

she’ll make a couple of wreaths
today perhaps
for some tragedy that hasn’t
happened yet
and when five to six comes
she’ll sweep up the fallen petals
and stems,
pull the door out behind her
and leave the future
safely locked up
’till morning.

An Tine Bheo

(i.m. Frances Newton)

A craiceann mar éabann le hais
éadach geal cadáis
ar an leaba shingil ghlan
tá creasa sábhála
sa seomra sciúrtha
níl ponc as ord

tá gach rud chomh bán

díbríonn smeachadh méire boilgín
chíonn sí loinnir an tsolais
i mbior na snáthaide agus
i spéaclaí glé snasta
mar a millfeadh smidín dubh amháin
an ócáid.

Airíonn sí guth cianársa
á glaoch abhaile ar chosán
uaigneach an athmhuintiris
ach tá a cosa geartha, fuilteach
a béal tíortha ag an ithir rua
amuigh i ngort an chadáis
ní shéideann siolla ina treo
seinneann ceoltóir na gormacha
ar chaoláin
is féitheoga a hionathair.

Dúnann sí a súile mar áirní
is a beola mar shú talún méithe

braitheann luisne teasa ina gnúis
ó chaor thine Mississippi
atá fós gan múchadh.

An Liú sa Chuan (Coiscéim 2007)

The Burning Fire

Skin like ebony against
bright cotton cloth
on the clean single bed
there are safety belts
in the scrubbed room
nothing’s out of order

everything is so white

flick of a finger
banishes a bubble
she sees the reflection of light
in the point of the needle
and in clear polished glasses
where one black speck
would spoil the occasion.

She hears an ancient voice
calling her home
on the lonely path of
but her feet are cut and bleeding,
her mouth parched by the red earth
out there in the cotton field
no puff blows her way
a musician plays the blues
on the sinews and strings
of her guts.

She closes her eyes like sloes
and her lips like juicy strawberries

feels the burning glow in her cheeks
from the roaring Missippi fire
still raging.

Sa tír

Sa tír atá breac le
crainn tógála, dréimirí
is leoraithe ag sceitheadh a gcuid Readymix
mar bhualtrach bó fan na mbóithre
itheann na coileáin Cheilteacha
bia Sri Lancach is ólann fíon Francach
ar dheiceanna de chéadras Cheanada
tá comharthaí na gceantálaithe mar mhaisiúchán
ar gach cuaille aibhléise
an tír ina holltoghchán
ollmhór ollshiamsach
mar a gceannaíonn an euro an vóta

sa tír ina bhfuil gach rud anois ar díol
deirtear go bhfuil lucht na mbailte slachtmhara
chun marcanna breise a dháileadh
ar shlacht na bhfógraí
FOR SALE atá á dtáirgeadh is
lipéidí dearthóra ceangailte leo
tá oifig an cheantálaí ar maos le
eurónna agus guíonn sé, cairpéad bog
faoina ghlúine,
ná tráfaidh an tuile
a snámhann sé ann choíche

i dtír na dtranglam tráchta
i dtír na n-órdóg ataithe le
teicst beaic, tác sún, sí-iú l8r……
sa tír ina snastar gluaisteáin
chomh mór le heitleáin
le tiomáint céad slat go siopa
sa tír ina bhfuil an chraic ina púdar bán
mar a gceannaíonn an euro an vóta
suíonn ógánach tanaí fionn
lena sheaicéad is a chlogad buí
ar fhalla trí stór leath-thógtha
ag ithe a cheapairí
as mála plaisteach LIDL

féachann soir uaidh is cuimhníonn
ar bhotháinín bídeach
sna sléibhte
i bhfad i gcéin.

An Liú sa Chuan (Coiscéim 2007)

In The Land

In the land that is speckled with
cranes, ladders
and lorries spattering their Readymix
like cow dung along the roads
Celtic pups
eat Sri Lankan food and drink
French wine on decks
of Canadian cedar
the estate agents’ signs are like
decorations on every lamp post
the country is one huge election carnival
where the euro buys the vote

in the land where everything is now for sale
they say that the Tidy Towns Committees
are thinking of giving extra marks
for the tidiness of the FOR SALE signs
being produced with designer labels
the auctioneer’s office is awash with euros
and he prays, a soft carpet underfoot
that this tide he swims in
will never ebb

in the land of gridlocked roads
in the land of thumbs swollen from
text back, talk soon, c u l8r
in the land where cars big as
’planes are polished
to drive a hundred yards to the shop
in the land where the ‘craic’ is made
of white powder
where the euro buys the vote
a fair-haired skinny young man
with his visi-vest and hard yellow hat
sits on a half built three story wall
eating sandwiches from a LIDL’s plastic bag,

looks to the east
and thinks of a tiny mountain cottage
way off, in the distance.


Ná habair!

Ná habair liom, a chailín
gur bhuail ciumhais an dorais
tú arís! Nach ort a bhíonn an mí-ádh:
an cuimhin leat an lá go raibh ort
dul amach agus an níochán
a thabhairt isteach ón líne?
Agus pé rud a tháinig ort
ní fhaca tú’n madra féd’ chois
agus, sea: síos leat ar d’aghaidh
(ceann ar aghaidh)
is bhí a rian ort ar feadh coicíse
bogha ceatha fé do shúil
(nach raibh aon phota óir féna thóin)
is borradh fé do bheol
dáiríre, a chailín

níor mhór duit a bheith níos cúramaí!

Ar an Imeall (Coiscéim 2011)


Don’t tell me!

Don’t tell me, girl
that the edge of the door got you
again! Aren’t you the unlucky one:
do you remember the day you had to
go out to bring in the washing from the line?
And whatever came over you,
you never spotted the dog under your feet
and, yes: down you went headlong
(face first)
and you bore the signs for a fortnight
a rainbow under your eye
(with no crock of gold at its end)
and your fattening lip
really, girl

you’d need to be more careful!


Tráthnóna san Ateneo

Tá cuma na bhflaitheas ar an áit seo
frescos Orlandi go hard os mo cheann
nótaí gutha Gardel ag freagairt
dom’ chuid smaointe ar amharclann
a líonadh le mílte mar a
stadfadh gach croí ag bualadh
amach tango a n-anama dá samhlóidís
go ngéillfeadh an rabharta úd
do na mílte seilfeanna is na milliúintí
scéal a thabharfadh leo a ndraíocht féin
in am trátha.

Cén saghas tuair é seo, is mo lámh ag iompó
leathanaigh de línte Neruda?
Go dtiocfadh iníon óg léinn im threo
agus go n-iarrfadh sí cead na línte céanna
a aithris as a cuimhne trí phíobán fada
mar chogar chugam
cleachtas ait dá cuid, file le Dia!
Líonann mo chluais lena hortha.

Is geal liom fós briocht an chogar-mogair
sin a chuir sí liom:

‘…amhail í a mhealladh faram, cuardaím im’ radharc í,
cuardaíonn mo chroí í, is níl sí liom…


An afternoon in the Ateneo

This place looks like heaven
with Orlandi’s frescos overhead
the notes of Gardel’s voice echoing
my imaginings of a theatre
filled with thousands
where every heart would stop beating
out the tango of its soul if it thought
for one minute that such a flood wave
could ever yield to thousands of shelves
and millions of stories which would in time
bring their own charm.

What sort of omen is this
as my hands turn the pages of Neruda’s lines?
That a young student should come my way
and ask permission to whisper those very lines
from memory through a long tube into my ear –
what a strange convention, crazy poet!
She floods my ear with magic.

I still feel the spell of that hugger-mugger
she lulled me with:

‘… as if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her and she is not with me …’


These poems and their translation © Áine Uí Fhoghlú, November 2020

Translator’s Note: The English language versions provided are only approximate translations, with the intention of giving the reader an insight. These are not literary translations and the poet does not consider them to be poems in their own right, merely a key to understanding the original poems. These translations come with the inevitable loss of word-play, sounds and idioms which are unique to the original language.

Áine Uí Fhoghlú, November 2020

Áine Uí Fhoghlú comes from the County Waterford Gaeltacht of An Rinn. Her published works include Poetry: Aistear Aonair (1999); An Liú sa Chuan (2007); Ar an Imeall (2011). Adult fiction: Crúba na Cinniúna (2009); Uisce faoi Thalamh (2011); Éalú (2013). Teenage fiction: Pincí sa Ghaeltacht (2012); (2017). Her latest teenage fiction is due for publication in 2021. Non-fiction: Scéalta agus Seanchas – Potatoes, Children & Seaweed (2019) – a bilingual memoir recorded from the older generation in her area. She has won commissions and bursaries from The Arts Council, Ealaíon na Gaeltachta, and Foras na Gaeilge. Prizes won for her writing include the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award, Oireachtas na Gaeilge Literary awards, Strokestown Duais na Gaeilge award, Listowel Writers’ Week. Prescribed texts for second-level schools’ curriculum include her work.

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