Friday, February 12, 2010

From the Irish, a poem by Ian Duhig.

Post 426 - Here's an unusual poem for Valentines Day. I hope you like it.

Ian Duhig was born in London in 1954, the eighth of eleven children born to Irish parents with a liking for poetry. He's won the National Poetry Competition twice, and also the Forward Prize for Best Poem; his collection, The Lammas Hireling, was the Poetry Book Society's Choice for Summer 2003, and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and Forward Prize for Best Collection. Chosen as a New Generation Poet in 1994, he's received Arts Council and Cholmondeley Awards, and has held various Royal Literary Fund fellowships at universities including Lancaster, Durham, Newcastle and his own alma mater, Leeds. He considers poetry to be "the alchemy of mind and heart."

He says, "I do mock poetry and take it seriously at the same time, but anyone who is passionately attached to a football team will have similar mixed feelings."

From the Irish by Ian Duhig.

According to Dineen,* a Gael unsurpassed

in lexicographical enterprise, the Irish

for moon means 'the white circle in a slice

of half-boiled potato or turnip.' A star

is the mark on the forehead of a beast

and the sun is the bottom of a lake, or well.

Well if I say to you your face

is like a slice of half-boiled turnip,

your hair is the color of a lake's bottom

and at the center of each or your eyes

is the mark of the beast, it is because

I want to love you properly, according to Dineen.

* The Dineen family were famous as poets and historians in County Cork in the south western part of Ireland. They provided a succession of hereditary poets and historians to the Clan MacCarthy and occasionally to the O'Sullivans, two clans who disputed ownership of the region for many centuries. Tadhg O'Dineen, poet to the Earl of Clancarty, was a prominent member of the 17th century school of Irish poetry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for providing a copy of this poem - it's wonderful. I think, though, that the Dinneen alluded to is the famous Irish-English dictionary by Fr Patrick Dinneen (