|Dr. Robert Puff|
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Issue #2106 -- http://nonduality.com/hl2106.htm -- featured poetry by Gabriel Rosenstock. Gabriel was cited as the translator, however it was not noted that he was also the author. He wrote the poems in Irish and then translated them into English. Here is a blurb I came across about Gabriel:
What is it that makes Gabriel Rosenstock the greatest living Irish lyric poet? He is the best tailor in town, a perfect craftsman, who looks terrific in any poetic garb from haiku to Canto and yet exposes raw nerves, suffering words like a wounded bird picking at a winos vomit.
--Peter van de Kamp, editor Irish Literature
I asked Gabriel about the Irish language. He wrote:
What it means to write in Irish is this: one is writing in one of the oldest literary languages of Europe, the oldest after Greek and Latin.
Anybody wishing to listen to some poetry in Irish and enjoy its very sophisticated versecraft may purchase the bilingual anthology and accompanying audio-cassette A TREASY OF IRISH LOVE which I edited for Hippocrene Books, New York.
For me it means that reality is filtered through a medium which does not have the massive exposure - and consequent contamination??? - of English.
I do not wish to set languages up against each other. This would be wrong. Indeed, I write in both languages. I am interested in the way the Chicano poet Francisco X. Alarcón tries to reappropriate Nahuatl, a language his grandmother knew. Such linguistic repossession of part of the soul and ritual of pre-Columbian America sounds like a salutary exercise to me.
Isaac Bashevis Singer said he was nourished on dead languages, Hebrew, Yiddidh and Aramaic. Will Irish die? Probably ... but won't all languages die at some stage?
Irish captivated me from an early age:
* sagairtín: a little priest; also, an inedible periwinkle...
* gealach: the moon; also a thin slice of raw turnip...
* iomas gréine: sun inspiration; a sun-bubble caused on herbs which if eaten gives the gift of poetry...
* turcaí: a turkey; also a slang word for a beast kept by a herd in mountain pasture for his own benefit with or without the knowledge
of his master ...
* brionglán: a beam, a shaft, a branch; also, one side of a tongs
* aiteall: joy; also, a bright spell after rain
* múta: one who can do nothing properly
* donn: a prince, a chief, a judge; also, the name of a fairy inhabiting sandbanks off the coast of Clare ....
One could go on, but I think you get the picture!
The website you mentioned is fine ...
This is the website: http://www.fiosfeasa.com/bearla/language/intro.htm. And this is from the website:
Irish is a Celtic language spoken in a number of small communities, mostly in the west of Ireland, and by larger numbers of people scattered across the country. It has been the spoken language of Ireland for over two thousand years, and has an extensive literature stretching back to the seventh century. While Irish speakers are very much a minority in the Ireland of today, they have an importance to the cultural life of the nation far out of proportion to their numbers. Irish is by constitutional law the first official language of the Irish Republic, and was recently awarded official status in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland as a central part of the Good Friday Agreement.
Here is more from Gabriel Rosenstock. I have made some selections from his recent work described below:
My selected poems translated from the Irish will be coming out later this year in bilingual format. The translatons are by one Paddy Bushe. He arranged the titles in alphabetical order rather than in chronological order so we have duality and nonduality back and forth a bit, as one might expect over a thirty year period!
In 1992 the poet F. X. Alarcón gave me an Aztec name, Xolotl and this is the title of one of the visionary poems in the collection...
Translated from the Irish by Paddy Bushe
© 2005 Cló Iar-Chonnachta, this edition
Is mé an solas
Is mé Khepéirí ar maidin
Rá um nóin
Is mé Atúm um thráthnóna.
Tríonóid an tsolais mé.
Níl sa doircheacht ach díth solais.
Is mé Khepéirí-Rá-Atúm
An ga a thollann Sí an Bhrú
An chéad drithle sa chéad fhuaim
An siolla lonrach deireanach.
Im sorry to have to say
That I didnt really get your poem.
Maybe the fault was my own.
I understood every word of it.
Nothing at all in the syntax
Threw me, I must admit.
Rhythm and expression, needless to say,
Were spot on for the times were in.
Whats wrong with free verse?
Formality, after all, has bowed out.
But what I didnt quite get was this:
Why did you write it in the first place?
It carries no trace at all of
Sweat, or terror, or exuberance
Nor of your being unable to touch base again
Until your poem was safely on paper
And you had hoarsely called back
Your soul, that, like a Daddy Long Legs,
Had gone cavorting high up in the firmament.
as soon as its named
the lungwort scatters itself
all over the place
luaitear a ainm
agus siúd an crotal coille
ar fud na bhfud
in the roaring fire
are also fated to change
sa bhéilteach thine
is dual dóibh siúd athrú, leis
a single magpie
swallows a beakful
of its reflected self
ólann lán a ghoib
dá íomhá féin
Three men in the library,
coaxed in by the heat.
One of them yawns
as wide as the book on his knees.
All three stinking of piss.
A queue for the Internet,
mostly Chinese students.
Im looking for Hakuins autobiography, the Zen monk.
I find it at eventually
among the gardening books
this place is in a fierce rírá.
Arent the three a class of monks themselves?
A swarm of mosquitoes, I read, settled on Hakuin
while he was meditating.
He never stirred.
Having transcended mind and body
he stroked the mosquitoes off
and they fell from him as softly as petals.
Books going out.
Books coming back, dog-eared.
It was no grá for learning, or wisdom, or philosophy
that brought in the three buckos,
only to be inside from the cold.
They dont want encyclopaedias, fiction, newspapers or poetry,
only a haircut, a shave
a change of underwear
a kind word
a blessing even
a bowl of soup.
Who are they?
I dont like to stare.
Will they be noticed yet in a public park
divining the weather
at an auspicious time?
I havent a blessed thing to say to them.
Hakuin, too, is stumped. Struck dumb.
Sometimes Im a scarecrow,
Scared of my self
My own lies torment me.
Strip me of my clothes
Tear them to pieces
Burn my entrails
That I may hear the agonised
Cry of my birth.
I would move then as a flame through life
I would speak in tongues of fire
I would dance at fairs
I would frighten children
What would I not do!
Traverse the sky as northern lights
As shooting stars from the Milky Way.
Let the raven come
Let it pluck out my eyes
I would make a black comedy of a wedding
I would jump out of my skin at a christening
I would eat grass!
I would drink hares piss!
I am a scarecrow
Between heaven and earth
Blind to my fate
My provenance unknown
From my souls furnace
Through my eyes.
Sometimes Im a scarecrow
My head doesnt matter
But leave me my hat.
I would steal the bishops ring
I would buy loaves
And two salt fish
And wait for a miracle
Until I was famished.
Sometimes Im a scarecrow
Scared of myself
Who tarred my tongue
And feathered it?
The wind will speak through me
From all points
Stories of refugees, of the homeless.
Sometimes Im a scarecrow,
Scared of myself
My own lies torment me.
Bear me to the river
Immerse me in the
Or in the
I have travelled through fire
And across ice
Headless and faithful.
I claim a final haven!
How far did you travel, Buddha,
Or how far can you be followed?
You immolated yourself in Nirvana, far on the other side,
The other side of yourself, Gautama,
And with the height of compassion
You left your gentle image after you
A smile that comprehends yuga after yuga
An image that says you were not there
To burn in the first place
There are the blackberries
The pooka shat on
The worlds loneliness
You went beyond yourself
That all might be threshed in the haggard of their karma
You should not be adored
Because you are not a god
You banished all the gods
Fleeing, they dropped in a faint
As flowers at your feet, your unmoving feet
Burn the words, Buddha, gently
Siúd thall na sméara dubha
Ar chac an púca orthu
Uaigneas na cruinne
Níl aon ní buan
Ghabhais tharat féin
Chun go gcáithfí cách in iothlainn a gceárma
Ní le hadhradh ataoi
Mar nach dia thú
Chuiris an ruaig ar na déithe go léir
Theitheadar thiteadar ina bpleist
Ina mbláthanna ag do chosa, do chosa nach gcorrraíonn
Dóigh na focail seo, a Bhúda, go séimh
Thank God its raining
rain pitches into roofs
scours television aerials,
gives a new lease of life
to grass poking through tarmacadam.
not even the tiniest germ, youd think,
could survive this intense purity:
drainpipes and channels
sing celestial cantatas.
He would take off with the clouds before they froze in the sky: the worlds last dreamer. Before the birds shrivelled, before the worms abandoned their dumb rootings. Searching for his own reflection in a nib of frost.
I was born
in the shape of
of the Morning Star.
The other died
a sudden death
as an ending.
It was sudden
In the blink of an eye
there is no way
to our salvation.
[This is the beginning, a fragment of a long poem, which will appear in the next of the Highlights which I edit. --Jerry]
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