Landscape 16 Greeting To Ireland

What delight to be on the hill of Howth
Before sailing the white haired sea!
The waves that break against its face!
The rocky cliffs and shingles!

What delight to be on the hill of Howth
Coming home from the white breasted sea!
Rowing my own little coracle
Hyah! Down the wild-waved shore!

How swiftly my coracle moves now
Derry dwindling behind my stern
How sad is my mission over the sea
East to beetle-browed Scotland

My foot in my tuneful coracle
My sad heart full of tears
A man without guidance is weak
A man without knowledge blind

Mine is a bright soft grey eye
Looking back to the shores of Erin
Never again to see
Erin’s men or Erin’s women

I strain my sight over the waves
Standing firm on the oaken planks
Many tears fall from my soft grey eye
Looking back over the sea to Erin

In my mind I am in Erin
In Loch Lene and in Linny
In the land of the Ulstermen
In gentle Munster and in Meath

Many in the East are skinny rogues
Many pestilences there and diseases
Many half-dressed temptresses
Many hard and jealous hearts

The West is ripe with apples
Many kings and princes reign
The bushy thickets are full of plenty
Great oak woods tower above

Musical her priests and musical her birds
Gentle her youths and wise her elders
Famous her men glorious to behold
Famous her women for wedded affection

Sweet Brendan is in the West
And Colum son of Criffan
In the West will be fair Baithin
And in the West will be Adamnan

Carry my greeting Westward
To Comgall of the immortals
Carry my greeting Westward
To the stately king of fair Navan

Carry with you fair youth
My blessing and benediction
One half for Erin - sevenfold
And one half for Scotland - likewise

Take my blessing with you out to the West
My heart is broken here on the sea
Should sudden death overtake me
I will die for the love of Gael

Gael! Gael! Beloved name!
To speak it gladdens the heart
Beloved is fair-haired Cummin
Beloved are Cainnech and Comgall

Were all Scotland mine
From the center to the edges
I would rather have a site for a house
In the middle of fair Derry

For this it is I love Derry
For its smoothness and its wholeness
For its crowd of white angels
From one end to another

My Derry! My little oak grove!
My home and my little cell!
May the Living God in Heaven above
Strike any violator

Beloved are Durrow and Derry
Beloved is pure Raphoe
Beloved is Drumhome with sweet acorns
Beloved are Swords and Kells

Beloved also to my heart in the West
Is Drumcliff on Culcinne’s coast
Look upon lovely Loch Foyle!
The delightful shape of its shores

Delightful it is!
The deep red ocean where the seagulls cry
I return from afar to find Derry
Peaceful and delightful

From a translation by Kuno Meyer

by Stewart McKenzie

Comments (1)

See also Deirdre's Farewell To Scotland. Two exiles passing in opposite directions.