Saturday, August 15, 2015


I Long for a Hut in the Wildwood

"Manchan's Wish" (Irish, 10th century), stanzas 1-4, tr. Kathleen Jamie:
Oh Son of the living god,
ever-abiding king,
I long for a hut in the wildwood
to dwell therein.

A bothy, and beside it,
for the washing away of sin
by grace of the holy spirit:
a clear flowing burn with a linn.

The beautiful greenwood
cloistering every side,
where many-voiced songbirds
might flit and hide.

Facing the warm south,
with stream-fed lands
bountiful and beneficent
for every plant.
[In the second stanza Jamie stays close to words in the original: bothy (= hut, cottage, cf. booth) ~ buith, and linn (= waterfall, pool).]

The same, tr. Barbara Hughes Fowler:
I wish, O Son of the Living God,
    eternal and ancient King,
for a little hidden hut in the wild
    that it might be my home.

Water shallow and very gray,
    a clear pool nearby
to wash away my sins by grace
    of the Holy Spirit above.

A lovely wood neighboring it,
    enclosing on every side,
for nurture of birds of many notes,
    a shelter concealing them.

A southerly prospect to keep me warm,
    a little stream to cross
its glebe, bounteous choice soil
    nourishing every plant.
The same, tr. Kuno Meyer:
I wish, O Son of the living God, O ancient eternal King, for a hidden little hut in the wilderness, that it may be my dwelling.

An all-grey lithe little lark to be by its side, a clear pool to wash away sins through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Quite near, a beautiful wood around it on every side, to nurse many-voiced birds, hiding it with its shelter.

A southern aspect for warmth, a little brook across its floor, a choice land with many gracious gifts such as be good for every plant.
The original:
Dúthracar, a Maic Dé bí,
a Rí suthain sen,
bothán deirrit díthraba
commad sí mo threb,

Uisce treglas tanaide
do buith ina taíb,
linn glan do nigi pectha
tria rath Spirta Naíb,

Fidbaid álainn immocus
impe do cech leith,
fri altram n-én n-ilgothach,
fri clithar día cleith,

Deisebar fri tesugud,
sruthán dar a lainn,
talam togu co méit raith
bad maith do cach clainn.

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