10.28.2012

Excerpts from Carmina Gadelica

Around the turn of the 20th century, Alexander Carmichael collected poems, hymns and incantations from the Scottish highlands into a six-volume compendium that includes both (extensive) Christian and Pagan verses. The digitized edition of Volume II includes a number of gems, with facing text in the original Gaelic. Here are some excerpts:


THE YARROW
I will pluck the yarrow fair
That more benign shall be my face
That more warm shall be my lips
That more chaste shall be my speech
Be my speech the beams of the sun
Be my lips the sap of the strawberry

May I be an isle in the sea
May I be a hill on the shore
May I be a star in the dark time
May I be a staff to the weak

Wound can I every man
Wound can no man me



SAINT JOHN'S WORT
Saint John's wort Saint John's wort
My envy whosoever has thee
I will pluck thee with my right hand
I will preserve thee with my left hand
Whoso findeth thee in the cattle fold
Shall never be without kine


THE CLUB MOSS
The club moss is on my person
No harm nor mishap can me befall
No sprite shall slay me no arrow shall wound me
No fay nor dun water nymph shall tear me


THE SHAMROCK OF LUCK
Thou shamrock of good omens
Beneath the bank growing
Whereon stood the gracious Mary.
The seven joys are,
Without evil trace,
On thee peerless one
Of the sunbeams:
  Joy of health
  Joy of friends
  Joy of kine
  Joy of sheep
  Joy of sons and Daughters fair
  Joy of peace
  Joy of God

The four leaves of the straight stem
Of the straight stem from the root of the hundred rootlets
Thou shamrock of promise on Mary's Day,
Bounty and blessing thou art at all times.

2 comments:

Eclecta said...

"May I be a star in the dark time" is perhaps one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever read.

Guido Masé said...

...a single yarrow flower in a field at night...