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Cúairt an Mheán Oíche by Brian Merriman

Section 4 Cuairt an Mheán Oíche

Hear the text read in Irish.



in Irish

Ní fiú liom freagra freastail do thabhairt ort,
A shnamhaire fleascaigh nach aithis do labhartha!
Ach inseoidh mé feasta do mhaithe na cúirte
An nós inar cailleadh an ainnir nárbh fhiú thú: –
Bhí sí lag, gan bha gan phuint,
Bhí sí i bhfad gan teas gan clúdadh,
Cortha dhá saol, ar strae dhá seoladh
Ó phost go piléar gan ghaol gan chóngas,
Gan scíth gan spás de lá nó d’oíche,
Ag stríocadh an aráin ó mhná nár chuí léi.
Do gheall an fear seo dreas sócúlach di,
Do gheall an spreas di teas is clúdadh,
Cothrom glan is ba le crú di,
Is codladh fada ar leaba chlúimh di,
Teallaigh teó agus móin a dóthain
Fallaí fód gan leoithne gaoithe,
Fothain is díon ón síon is ón spéir di,
Olann is líon le sníomh chun éadaigh.
Do b’fheasach don tsaol is don phéist seo láithreach
Nach taitneamh ná téamh ná aonphuth ghrá dó
Do cheangail an péarla maorga mná seo
Ach easnamh go léir,—ba déirc léi an tsástacht!
Ba dubhach an fuadar suairceas oíche
Smúit is ualach duais is líonadh,
Lúithne luaidhe agus guaillí caol
Is glúine crua chomh fuar le hoidhre
Cosa feoite dóite ón ngríosach
Is colainn bhreoite dhreoite chríona.

in English

It’s beneath my dignity to answer you straight
You sniveling slimeball, your speech’s inchoate
But I want to inform the worthies of the court
Of the horrible life of one above your sort: –
She was vulnerable, without cattle or dough
Always freezing without heat or a throw
Tired of life, astray without direction
From pillar to post, with no relative’s affection,
Without rest or comfort by day or by night
Having to beg from strangers her daily bite.
This man promised her silver and gold
He promised her heat and shelter from cold,
A fair share of wealth and milk cows purebred
Comfortable nights on a down-covered bed
Warm hearths with turf so she wouldn’t freeze
Thick sod walls to keep out the breeze,
Well-secured roofs and doors and windows
Wool and linen to weave for clothes
Twas known to the world and to this worm there
That not pleasure or warmth or a love affair
Drew this pearl of a woman to that block of ice
But that a life of want left her without any choice.
With him there would be no nights of pleasure
With this fat load, dropsical beyond measure;
With his leaden sinews and narrow shoulder
It was hard to see how the night could get colder.
Along with knarly knees and decaying feet
His dry sickly body was no young woman’s treat.

There are many interpretations into English of the epic poem Cuairt an Mheán Oíche. This English version is by J. Noel Fahey (1998) His interpretation of the whole poem, may be found on http://www.showhouse.com/prologue.html

Read a full translation of Midnight Court by Noel Fahey at midnight-court.com.