Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tir na nÓg

Let us sail beyond the sunset and all the western stars,
Across the heaving grey sea until we reach that blessed Isle,
Mist-shrouded, dream-haunted, where the blossoming apple trees are
Ever-laden with golden fruit & scented flowers. Here, freed from death’s cold embrace and life’s sad trial,
The heroes of old rise daily new, unburdened of the world’s weary toil and care;
For in that magical country, Life and Time have ceased their endless stride.
It may be that there we will see the noble Oisín, lured by a sea-nymph’s golden hair,
To three hundred years of wandering the enchanted world of Faery;
Or the great Cuchulainn, Ulster’s mighty hero, and Brendan, navigator of the sea’s restless tide.

It may be that we will see the unhappy Diarmuid, who forsook all for love;
Or Brian the conqueror; Cormac, the wise ruler of Tara, and Conn, slayer of a hundred.
Perhaps we’ll also see Patrick the fair, and Columcille, the Church’s holy dove;
Or we’ll see that old beauty for which so many songs are sung, she for whom Emain was plundered,
Violet-eyed Deirdre of the sorrows, more beautiful than Menelaus’ wife,
Linked arm in arm with lusty Maeve, whose shapely white thighs broke no law of hospitality.
She seduced men into laying aside both love and life,
Intoxicated, hunting the length and breadth of the land after a brown horned bull,
For the lusty Queen of Connacht and mistress of Sovereignty.
Oh Lady of sweet oblivion, pour me a cup of wine, brimming full!

It may be that we will see the Danann queens: beautiful, green-mantled Ériu,
The poet’s Muse, quiet, grey-eyed Banbha and Fodhla, the nightingale of the Sidhe,
It may be that we will see the faces of all those we once knew
From ballad, rann and song, and all the tales of the wandering seanachie,
Told in the silver tongue of this ancient land, stirring to life the old flame,
From embers slowly dying upon the hearth.
Our spirits are set ablaze by the storied names,
Of the heroic men and women of Ireland
Who, in ancient days, moved heaven and Earth.

1 comment:

  1. My new-ish poem about the legendary 'island of the Ever-Living' which was said to lie off the coast of western Ireland, the ancient Gaelic Paradise. It's made with Tennyson in mind, and is a thematic plagiarising of his 'Ulysses.'