Cold till Doom!

With the first cold snap in the Northeast, many of us are whimpering like babies. The Midwest has seen a sizable snowstorm, and there has been record-breaking weather, including ferocious winds, throughout England and Northern Ireland. I offer, in honor of the weather, a traditional Irish poem:

 A Cold Night

–attributed to MacLesc of Finn’s household

Translated by Kuno Meyer

Cold till Doom!

The storm is greater than ever;

Each shining furrow is a river,

And a full lake each ford.


Big as a great sea is each angry lake,

Each keen thin company a host,

When big as the face of a shield each drop of rain,

Big as a white wether’s* skin each flake.


Big as a pit each puddle,

A standing-stone each level, a wood each moor;

No shelter finds the flocks of birds,

White snow reaches right up to the breech.


Swift frost has bound the roads

After a sharp struggle round Colt’s standing stone;

The storm has spread on all sides,

So that none say aught but “Cold!”

 *wether = a castrated male sheep

 Collected in:

O’Faolain, Sean. The Silver Branch: A Collection of the Best Old Irish Lyrics, Variously Translated. Freeport, NY: Books For Libraries/Viking Press (Granger Index Reprint Series), 1938, 1968.

 This work was originally published in Kuno Meyer’s 1903 Four Old-Irish Songs of Summer and Winter. Works published prior to 1923 are in the Public Domain. If you are the copyright holder and believe that I am in error, please contact me.


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