Thursday, July 12, 2012

With middle finger raised...

Bona Na Croin

Neither your collar nor crown
Shall I wear, my nose not brown,
Nor I some clown in your court,
In chains brought, a wolf to town.

By no oath bound to your King,
To my Gods alone I sing,
Grey shadow hiding from sight
To keep the rite from waning.

In red gold you dress these slaves,
What throne can forget Nine Waves?
In deep caves our flame I shield,
Never to yield to such knaves.

Collars serve to reign dogs in,
Quell their nerve with shades and sin.
Wild wolf's kin such bangles scorn,
Free-born I stay, son of Fionn*.

My brothers hunted, slain, skinned.
Yet still my cries ride the wind,
Numbers thinned, but still we wait,
For your hate, we have not sinned.

Now the lone hunters take heed,
Upon the Great Stag we feed,
Blood for mead. His death our life,
Ends this strife, stirs this dried seed.

The old packs come together,
Ties that fear cannot sever,
Endeavour in pride to stand
In the Wolf Land, forever.


This supposedly dates from the early 19th Century.  Not sure whether any but the title was in Gaelic; in fact, even the spelling of the title as above is probably sort of pigeon Gaelic.  OTOH, the scansion is odd as rendered, and some of the rhymes forced--IF you read in American English.  This tends to make me think that it was written as a song, not a poem, and that it may have been written by a Gaelic speaker, if not in Gaelic.

I'm such a geek. 

Afterthoughts:  The full title in Gaelic is Ni Bona Na Croin, "Neither Collar Nor Crown"; it often seems to be shortened, however.  I suppose in English it could be rendered as "Nor Collar Nor Crown", as a more poetic alternative.  (I've found that people who complain about the English language never consider it's flexibility to be a good thing...)
ISTR that the mid-line rhyme scheme is also featured in Norse songs and poetry.

*Fionn MacCumhal, AKA Finn MacCool.  Source of the word "Fenians".

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