Irish: Reading no. 5

This lesson's reading is the song "Brighdín Bheusaidh" by the famous Irish poet Antoine Ó Reachtabhra, known in English as "Raftery". He lived from 1784 to 1835 and was one of the very last old-style folk poets whose verses were primarily transmitted orally in the form of songs, rather than being written down. However he lived late enough that his works came to the attention of the Gaelic Revivalists, and Douglas Hyde published an anthology of his songs as remembered by the local people in the West of Ireland around the turn of this century.

There are ten verses given in the Hyde version, but only six are included here, for reasons of space. The omitted verses talk at further length about Brighdin's beauty and the author's plan to go into the underworld to bring her back; he says that Charon, the ferryman of the dead in Greek mythology, will give him no help because he's a Catholic, and he wonders if he can get a card of introduction from Calvin or Cromwell! The Greek/Roman and Gaelic mythological figures introduced in the song are worth explaining briefly. Pluto was the King of the underworld; Rhadamanthus was a judge over the dead, as was Minos, his brother. The lame god Vulcan was a forger of metal and a craftsman generally. Jupiter was king of the gods, and Mentor the reliable old guide of Odysseus. In the Gaelic tradition, the Fianta, or Fenians, are a band of legendary warriors under the leadership of Fionn MacCumhaill. They include Oscar, "chief of men", the son of Oisin the poet, and Goll Mac Morna, a kind of minor deity. Cuchulainn was the terrifying warrior whose childhood was described in the previous readings.

In order to bring the song in line with standard Irish I had to hunt down modern Irish spellings for most of the words, but in a number of places I've left the old spelling or grammatical construction in for the sake of the music. A common example is the aspirating particle "do" before the past tense of a regular verb, for example, "Do phós mé", "I married". This "do" has disappeared from standard Irish but remains in some dialects. (In the standard it remains as "d'" before a verb in the past tense that begins with a vowel, e.g. "D'ith mé", "I ate"). Taking out the "do" in the song would have left some notes unaccounted for. I also, in one place, left in the old plural form "-aibh".

Starting with this lesson, irregular plurals and genitives will be indicated in the vocabulary by [pl] and [gs], respectively. For instance, "mara [pl] muir" would mean that "mara" is the irregular plural of "muir". A preposition that causes a noun following it to go into the genitive case is marked with [+g]. A word marked with [var] is an old variant spelling. An English translation follows.

Brighdín Bheusaidh

1.

Phósfainn Brighdín Bheusaidh
Gan cóta, bróig nó léine;
A stóir mo chroí, dá mb'fhéidir liom,
Do throiscfinn duit naoi dtráth,
Gan bhia gan deoch gan aon cuid
Ar oileán i Loch Éirne,
D'fhonn mé a's tú bheith in éineacht
Go réidhfimis ár gcás.
A ghrua an dhath na gcaorchon!
A chuachín barr an tsléibhe!
Do ghealladh ná déan bréagach,
Ach éirigh leis an lá,
'S é d'ainneoin dlí na cléire
Go dtógfainn thú mar chéile,
'S a Dhia, nár dheas an scéal sin,
Duin' ag éalú lena ghrá.
(gan, "without") (nó, "or")
(léine [f.], "shirt")
(troisc, "fast")
(naoi, "nine")
(tráth [m.], "time")
(bia [m.], "food")
(oileán [m.], "island")
(fonn... bheith, "feel like being")
(a's = agus) (in éineacht, "together")
(réidh, "settle") (cás [m.], "situation, case")
(grua [f.], "cheek") (dath [m.], "colour")
(caorchon [f.], "dogberry")
(cuach [f.], "cuckoo")
(barr, "on top of" + g)
(sléibhe [gs] sliabh, "mountain")
(gealladh [m.], "promise") (déan, "make")
(bréagach, "false, lying") (éirigh, "arise")
(d'ainneoin [+ g], "in spite of")
(dlí [m.], "law") (cléir [f.], "clergy")
(céile [m.], "spouse") (deas, "nice, sweet")
(duin' = duine) (ag éalú, "eloping") (lena, "with his")

2.

Do gheit mo chroí le buarthaí,
Agus scanraigh mé naoi n-uaire,
An mhaidin úd do chuala mé
Nach raibh tú romham le fáil,
'S a lia lá faoi shuairceas
Chaith mise 's tú in uaigneas
'S gan neach ar bith d'ár gcúmhdach
Ach an crúiscín 's é ar an gclár.
Dá bhfaighinn amach do thuairisc
Dá rachfá go bonn Cruaiche,
Rachadh an scéal seo chruaidh orm
Nó leanfainn do mo ghrá,
'S go b'fhearr liom sínte suas leat
'S gan fúinn ach fraoch 's luachair
Ná bheith 'g éisteacht leis na cuacha
Bheas ar siúl ag eírí lae.
(geit, "leap, jump")
(buarthaí [pl] buairt [f.], "care, worry")
(scanraigh, "take fright")
(uair [f.], "time")
(úd, "yonder") (chuala, "heard")
(romham, "before me")
(le fáil, "to be found")
(lia [m.], "great many, multitude")
(suairceas [m.], "merriment, joy")
(caith, "spend") (uaigneas [m.], "solitude")
(neach ar bith, "anybody")
(dár gcúmhdach, "protecting us")
(crúiscín [m.], "water-jug")
(clár [m.], "table, sideboard")
(dá bhfaighinn, "if I could find")
(tuairisc [f.], "news, story, account")
(dá rachfá, "if you went" [irreg.])
(bonn [m.], "foot") (Cruaich, "the Reek", i.e. Croagh Patrick)
(rachadh, "would go") (cruaidh, "hard")
(lean do, "follow") (sínte, "stretched out")
(suas leat, "beside you")
(gan fúinn, "nothing under us")
(fraoch [m.], "heather")
(ná, "than") (bheith, "to be")
(bheas, "that are") (ar siúl, "stirring")
(eírí lae, "break of day, dawn")

3.

'S é ábhar m' osna 's m' éagaoin
Gach maidin moch d'á n-éirighim
A cúil na lúb 's na bpéarla
Nach tú bhí dom i ndán,
'S ní iarrfainn leat mar fhéirín
Ach mé a's tú bheith in éineacht
In áit éigin 'n ár n-aonar,
Go leagfainn ort mo lámh.
Seinnfinn ceol ar téada
Go binn, le barr mo mhéara,
Thréigfinn mná na hÉireann ort,
A's leanfainn thú 'san tsnámh,
'S dá mbeinn im' rí na Gréige
Nó im' phrionsa ar na céadta
Do bheárfainn suas an méad sin
Do pheárla an bhrollaich bháin.
(ábhar [m.], "cause, reason")
(osna [f.], "sigh")
(éagaoin [f.], "lamenting, moan")
(moch, "early")
(cúil(ín) [m.], "fair-haired girl")
(lúb [f.], "curl")
(péarla [m.], "pearl")
(dán [m.], "destiny, fate")
(iarr, "ask")
(féirín [m.], "gift")
(éigin, "some")
('n ár n-aonar, "alone")
(leag, "lay down")
(seinn, "play (music)")
(téad [f.], "string, cord")
(binn, "sweet")
(méar [f.], "finger")
(tréig, "abandon")
(mná [pl] bean)
(Éireann [gs] Éire, "Ireland")
(snámh [m.], "the sea")
(im' = i mo)
(an Ghréig [f.], "Greece")
(prionsa [m.], "prince")
(céad [m.], "a hundred")
(bheárfainn, "I would give")
(méad [m.], "amount, whole")
(brollach [m.], "breast")
(bán, "fair, white")

4.

Dá bhfeicfeá Réalt' an Eolais
'S i 'teacht i mbéal an bhóthair,
Déarfá go mbeadh seoid uait
Do thógfadh ceo a's draíocht,
A grua dearg mar rósaibh
'S a súil mar drúcht an fhómhair,
A béalín tana ró-dheas
'S a bráid ar dath an aoil.
Bhí a dá chíoch corra chomh-chruinn,
Mhol mé iad 's ní mór liom,
'N a seasamh ag déanamh lóchrainn
'S iad ceartha os cómhair a croí.
Tá mé i mbrón 's i ndobrón
Ó sciorr tú uaim tar teorainn,
Cé g'is fada ó fuair mé comhairle
Go ngearróchá ar mo shaol.
(feicfeá, "you would see" [irreg.])
(réalta [f.], "star")
(eolas [m.], "knowledge, information")
(bóthar [m.], "road")
(déarfá, "you would say" [irreg.])
(seoid [f.], "jewel")
(uait, "before you")
(draíocht [f.], "enchantment")
(dearg, "red")
(rós [m.], "rose")
(drúcht [m.], "dew")
(fómhar [m.], "harvest, autumn")
(tana, "thin")
(bráid [f.], "neck")
(aol [m.], "lime")
(cíoch [f.], "(woman's) breast")
(corr, "peaked")
(chomh-chruinn, "equally round")
(ní mór liom, "I want to, I ought to")
(lóchrann [m.], "lamp")
(ceartha, "shaped")
(os cómhair [+ g], "in front of")
(dobrón [m.], "grief, affliction")
(ó, "since") (sciorr, "slip")
(teorainn [f.], "boundary, edge")
(cé go, "although")
(fuair, "got" [irreg.])
(comhairle [f.], "advice")
(gearróchá [var?], "you would shorten")

5.

'S é Pluto an prionnsa clamprach
Sciob uaim mo grá agus m'ansa,
É féin agus Radamantus
Ní caraid dom an dias,
Bhulcan bruite, dóite,
'S a leath-chos briste breoite,
Minos nach dtug trócaire,
Na trustaigh an gadaí choích'.
Is iomaí abhainn báighte
Sin agus contúirt cráite,
Toirneacha ag carnadh
Agus ag loscadh ar gach taobh,
Ach triallfaidh orra amárach
Agus mur' admhaigh siad mo grá dom,
Gheobhaidh cúnamh láidir
Nach n-éileoidh orm pingin.
(clamprach, "disorderly, disputatious")
(ansa, "most beloved")
(dias [f.], "couple, pair")
(bruite, "bruised")
(dóite, "scorched")
(leath-chos, "one foot")
(briste, "broken")
(breoite, "sick, injured")
(tug, "gave")
(trócaire [f.], "mercy")
(trustaigh, "trust")
(gadaí [m.], "thief")
(choích' = choíche, "ever, forever")
(iomaí, "many")
(báighte, "drowning")
(contúirt [f.], "danger, peril")
(cráite, "tormented")
(toirneach [f.], "thunder")
(carn, "heap up")
(ag loscadh, "burning")
(taobh [m.], "side")
(triall ar, "journey")
(mur' = mura)
(admhaigh do, "admit, let in")
(gheobhaidh [mé], "I will get" [irreg.])
(cúnamh [m.], "help")
(éiligh, "claim, demand of")
(pingin [f.], "penny")

6.

Fianta Fionn níor mhór dom,
Osgar 's Goll na Mórna,
'S Cúchulainn, an laoch cróganta
Nár chlis i gcath ariamh.
Clann Uisnigh, dúirt go leor liom,
Do bhainfeadh ar claíomh lóchrann,
Agus Hector, an laoch mór-chruth
Fuair foghlaim bhreá 'san Traoi.
Chluinnfeá i dTír na hÓige
Gníomh na bhfear móra,
An tráth thosóidís a stróiceadh
Ag gearradh rompu síos.
Ach Jupiter níor mór dom
Chuir Mentor, an fear eolais, liom,
Nár leig amú in aon bóthar mé,
Go dtug mé abhaile Brigid.
(Fianta Fionn, "the Fenians of Finn")
(níor mhór dom, "I would want")
(laoch [m.], "hero")
(cróganta, "brave")
(clis, "fail")
(cath [m.], "battle")
(ariamh, "ever")
(dúirt, "said" [irreg.])
(go leor, "enough (people)")
(bain ar, "extract from")
(claíomh [m.], "sword")
(mór-chruth, "well-built")
(foghlaim [f.], "learning")
(An Traoi [f.], "Troy")
(chluinnfeá, "you would hear" [irreg.])
(óige [f.], "youth")
(gníomh [m.], "action, deed")
(ag stróiceadh, "tearing up")
(ag gearradh, "cutting")
(rompu = roimh + siad, "before them")
(leig amú, "lead astray")

Translation:

1. I'd marry Brighdin Bheusaidh / Without coat, shoes, or shirt; / O treasure of my heart, if I could, / I would fast for you nine times, / Without food without drink without anything, / On an island in Loch Erne. / Hoping that you and I could be together, / Until we could settle our case. / O cheek the colour of the dog-berry! / O cuckoo on top of the mountain! / Your promise don't make false, / But rise up with the day. / And in spite of the law of the clergy, / I'd take you for my spouse, / and oh God! what a charming tale that would be, / a man eloping with his love.

2. My heart leapt with trouble, / and I took fright nine times, / The morning that I heard / That you were no longer to be found. / And all the days of merriment / That you and I spent in solitude, / Without anyone watching over us / But the jug, and it on the table. / If I could find out your story / If you would go to the foot of Croagh Patrick, / The story would go very hard with me, / Or I should follow my love. / Better for me to be stretched out beside you / Nothing under us but the rushes and heather / Than to be listening to the cuckoos / That are stirring at the break of the day.

3. The reason for my sigh and lamenting / Every early morning that I rise, / O fair one of the curls and the pearls, / Is that you were not destined for me; / And I would not ask you as a gift / But you and I to be together / In some place by ourselves, / That I would lay on you my hand. / I would play music on strings, / Sweetly, with the tips of my fingers, / I would forsake the women of Ireland for you, / And I'd follow you into the ocean, / And if I were king over Greece / Or a prince over hundreds, / I would give up all of that / To the pearl of white breast.

4. If you were to see the Star of Knowledge / and she coming in the mouth of the road, / You would say that there was a jewel before you / That would banish the mists and enchantment; / Her cheek red like the roses, / And eye like the dew of the harvest, / Her little thin mouth so pretty, / And her neck like the colour of lime. / Her two pointed, equal- round breasts, / I praised them, as well I might, / And they standing making a lamp / And they shaped in front of her heart. / I am in sorrow and in anguish / Since you slipped from me across the edge, / Though it is long since I got the advice / That you would shorten my life.

5. It is Pluto the contentious prince / Who swept from me my love and my darling, / He himself and Rhadamanthus / No friends to me that pair, / Vulcan bruised and burnt / And his one foot broken and injured, / Minas that gave no mercy, / Do not ever trust that thief. / Many is the drowning river / That, and the tormenting danger, / Thunder overwhelming / And burning on every side; / But I shall journey tomorrow, / And if they do not admit my love to me, / I will receive strong help, / And no penny will be required of me.

6. The Fenians of Finn I would want, / Oscar and Goll Mac Morna, / And Cuchulainn the brave hero / Who never failed in battle. / The Children of Uisneach, many have told me, / Would strike flame from the sword, / And Hector, the well-shaped hero, / Who got his fine learning in Troy. / You would hear in the Land of Youth / The deeds of the great men, / The time they began tearing / And cutting down before them. / But Jupiter I needed, / (Who) sent Mentor, the wise man, with me, / Who would not lead me astray in any road, / Until I took home my Brighid.)

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