Saying “My Story”, this is an Irish poem from the 7th-13th century. The author is unknown. This is translated by Brendan Kennelly. From the Penguin Book of Irish Verse.
A simple poem, but you can feel the winter “snarling” in these simple lines. It’s not very cold in Paris yet, but winter is coming. What’s more, our heating is broken down. Tomorrow we’ll get it repaired.
The thought of saying words, even a translation, that date from more than a thousand years ago; strange to think these fragments of a civilisation from so long ago. Fragments that come to us over the ages, here is it the story of the land? Whose story is it?
I am learning all of these poems and thinking of the desires and wishes that the poems contain. The time that these poems cross to come down to us. How something so fragile can cross time is a marvel… Can we leave things for others to find? Can we cross to others through time? Messages that cross through time and space…
The photo on this page is of the Gallarus Oratory, one of the earliest Christian buildings in Ireland, dating from 6th – 7th century. It is in Kerry on the Dingle Peninsula.
Here’s my story; the stag cries
Winter snarls as summer dies.
The wind bullies the low sun
in poor light; the seas moan.
Shapeless bracken is turning red,
The wildgoose raises its desperate head.
Birds’ wings freeze where fields are hoary.
The world is ice. That’s my story.
Anonymous from the 7th-13th century. Translated by Brendan Kennelly. From the Penguin Book of Irish Verse.