The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

Irish Poetry in Translation
Doireann Ní Ghríofa grew up in Co. Clare, Ireland. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies and journals. She was among the prize-winners at the Oireachtas Literary  Awards 2010, was shortlisted in Comórtas Uí Néill 2011, and was awarded an Arts Council Bursary. Her second collection, Dúlasair, is published in 2012.

These poems present Doireann's work in English and Irish and were published in Issue 21. Map was published in Issue 23. 

He Seeks Answers in the Mouth of a Well

Tóraíocht ag Tóin Tobair

 

Srac sé slí trí sceach is dris

Go dtí gur shroich sé

Sean—tobair a shinsir, is

Leag sé an leac ar leataobh

Do dhamhs’ dúradán deannaí

Ar an aer, bhí na ballaí bíse breac

Le crotal is caonach.

Ghlan se síoda damhán alla

Ón sean—phróca suibhe

Shín sé é i dtreo na huisce

Le cogar ciúin cuilithín

Shín lámh geal ar ais chuige

As dorchadas an duibheagáin

Shlog sé siar uisce,

An blas beo ina bhéal

Chuir sé an leac ar ais ina áit

Chas sé a dhroim,  is

D’imigh.

 He Seeks Answers in the Mouth of a Well

 

He shoved a sharp path

Through brambles and briars

Until he reached the deep

Well of his people.

Lifting the slender slab that leant

Against the stone opening, he watched

Motes like moths float on the air

The well’s walls slick,

Mottled with moss and lichen

Spiralling down to unknown depths.

He washed webs from the old jam jar,

stooped to fill it, as a pale hand reached

Up from ripples with a wistful whisper, unseen.

He gulped the cold water, the taste tingling

On his lips, then replaced the slab

And turned away.

Tree

Crann

Idir dall is dorcha

Lasann loinnir deire gréine

Mo ghúna grástúil órga

Teanntaíonn teannóga

Coirt mo choirp.

Sa smearsholas,

Suíonn scata smólaigh

Ina neadacha, iad síolta mo smaointe.

Éiríonn is eitlíonn siad uaim,

Mar smaointe scaoilte,

Scaipthe sna scamaill spéire.

Maisím mé féin, le

Réalta reatha idir ghéaga gharbha.

Sáim mo fhréamhacha

I gcré na hoíche, is

Súim súilíní drúichtín.

Sínim i dtreo dorchadais:

Mo ghrá gheal

A phóg fuar ina shíoda

I ngach pholl folaithe.  

 

Tree

At sunset, see my gown

Of burnished bark burn,

Tightened by tendrils of ivy.

Hear birds nestle in my nests,

Their flight —

My thoughts made motion.

I sink my toes into soft night soil,

Sip dew drops, and                       

Adorn myself with shooting stars

That glint in tangled twigs.

I stretch toward the dark:

My lost lover

His cold embrace

Creeps into every crevice.


Summer, 1955

Samhradh, 1955

 

Seasann tú,

Bródúil

I scáileanna dubh ’s bán

Taobh le teach nuathógtha

Lán le macallaí na nua.

Seasann tú,

Caol chomach

Gealgháireach

Le méar gan lúb

Le súil gan buairt,

Leanbh láidir

Le leiceann luisneach

Lúbtha timpeall ort.

 

Síneann bóthar garbh

Gairbhéal romhat.

  Summer, 1955

 

There you stand,

Proud

in shadow play

of shade and light

Next to a newly-built house

Full of new echoes.

Slender—waisted,

You stand, smiling, with

Untwisted fingers,

Unworried eyes.

A raw-cheeked baby

Clings to your hip.

 

The roughly gravelled road

Stretches before you. 

Map

An Léarscáil

 

Luí sí ina leaba

Léarscáil á léamh aici

Le lonrú lampa.

Rith sí méar mall

Síos fána fada

An géag galánta

Dromlach sléibhte sínte

Ó fásach go Antartach.

Nuair a chuir sí cos

Ar an sliabhraon céanna,

Seasta scartha

Idir an t—Airgintín agus an tSíle

Níor mhothaigh sí géire an mhapa.

D’éirigh agus d’ísligh na sléibhte,

An sneachta ag lonrú orthu

Go geal, cuma chomh bog orthu

Le blaincéad bán a leaba sa bhaile.

 

Map

 

She lay in bed

Reading a map by lamplight,

Her little finger running

Down the long, slender limb.

She gasped at

the sharp spine,

the razor ridge

That stretched almost

From desert to Antarctic.

When finally she stood

Upon that vast mountain range

Between Chile and Argentina,

She shivered in the shady slope,

The seeming sharpness of the map

Suddenly softened

As dazzling snow glare glistened

On gentle folds and peaks,

As soft as the downy duvet

On her bed at home.