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Ireland, Dolores Stewart, ‘Vexing the Dead’

Sanas na Marbh
Dá mbeadh fonn orm, tabharfadh mé
athfhéachaint ar léinseach an locha, ag deireadh lae –
ag dul i leith na deirge,
muirn an tsean-chatha
i mo chluasa dúnta agus lámh chiotach na staire
faoi mo bhráid: beaignití na nDeargánach ag muinéal
mo chuimhne.
Agus dá mbeadh fonn orm,
bhainfadh mé solás as an bhfuarán sléibhe ag déanamh
ar thobar an bhláir fholaimh,
murach an básbholadh,
murach an trup cos a chualas ar ghualann na tuaithe:
buídhean cuachta as an rí-theaghlach Stiúbhartach,
arís ar na gcosaibh?
Agus dá gcuirfeadh mé ar fán –
bheinn i láthair mar fhámaire ghaoithe,
ag ábhacht le brait idir dhearg ’s bhreacán,
ag déanamh gaisce sna Garbh Críocha,
ag déanamh éachta ar son an Phrionsa.
Ach an fonn orm, bheinn sásta gloine fíona Spáinneach
a ardú do Phrionsa an Fhraoigh, nó feirc bán a chaith
i mo chaipín, nó éamh
ar Chríost féin. Ach tá rian an áir
ar an aer agus cnámha coscartha faoi thalamh: slua ghairm
na marbh ag briseadh isteach ar mo neamhaistear,
ag lorg na déirce ó chluas bhodhar na cruinne.

Vexing the Dead

If only I were in the right mood, not
so inclined to dabble in the blood-freckled depths
of the lake,
or open both my ears
to known battle-cries bearing down on me
from the left hand side of the annals,
I would dodge the bayonets of Redcoats
glancing off the throat of folk stories,
and turn my hand
to scribbling out the registers of a mountain stream
trickling down to the battlefield –
if it wasn’t for the death-smell, or the clatter
of troop movements that comes to me over the ridge,
a detachment, maybe,
from the royal house of Stewart, once again
on the march? In lighter mood,
I would dawdle like a day-tripper, in equal halves
draw on red badges or plaid, jig-acting in the wake
of the Highland Prince.
And if I were in the mood, I would raise a glass
to the Prince of the Heather, sport a white cockade
in my cap, and plead with Christ for the cause,
but the salt lake is turning the colour of blood,
and battle-slogans of the slain
are coming through as the chant of a last-ditch Kyrie –
breaking into my humour at every hand’s turn.

More Information: https://english.chass.ncsu.edu/freeverse/Archives/Spring_2007/poems/M_Begnal_Irish.html

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