IONMHAIN, A BHEAN ... WOMAN, BELOVED ...
Anon. trans. Michael Smith - from Irish


Ionmhain, a bhean, h'oirneadh folt,
ionmhain aithne do rosg nglas;
más ionann leat is do bhás,
ionmhain tú go brách, a bhean.

Ionmhain troightheach bonnbhán bog;
ionmhain, roionmhain, rosg mall,
glasramhar righin a thriall,
atá mh'anam i ngiall ann.

Ionmhain seingchneas mar chaol con,
ionmhain aitheasg is docht rún;
(nár thí sé adram is Dia!)
ionmhain órfholt is lia lúb.

Ionmhain gan dearmad déad ceart,
ionmhain seangbhraoi is tearc clúmh;
gan a n-iomrádh ní fhéad neach,
ní tualaing searc déanamh rúin.

Ionmhain áineas nó a fearg riom,
ionmhain crádh go hionn a meóir
(deireadh dá gach cogadh síoth),
ionmhain cíogh mar uigh an eóin.

A ró seirce isé rom-shearg;
créad fá ngeabhadh fearg í?
Dá grádh, ar olca riom féin,
dá bhfaghainn bás, créad é an díth?


Woman, beloved your hair in tresses,
beloved your grey-green eyes' intent;
although it were to cost your death,
woman, you are forever beloved.

Beloved your tender, white-soled foot;
beloved truly your languid eye,
resolute its grey-green glance,
my soul a hostage held thereby.

Beloved your hound-lean, slender frame,
beloved your speech of strong resolve;
beloved (let it be no bar to God!)
your golden hair of countless curls.

Beloved indeed your perfect teeth,
beloved your eyebrows pencil-thin;
as love can brook no secrecy,
no one can fail to mention them.

Beloved your pleasure or rage with me,
the torture at your finger-tips
(her every war ends in peace),
beloved your breast like the egg of bird.

My love's excess has wasted me.
What cause has she for any rage?
My love for her harms me alone;
if I should die, what loss to moan?

Trans. Copyright © Michael Smith 2007


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