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
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.