Winter Falls

A long week with the first hint of chill, I wanted something of winte having been denied so long that snow and frost. And I remembered all of a sudden this slow and gentle film and of how the last lines went…

It reflects those hours of holiday madness we all share in our own way – but of a more restrained variety. The drama was there but a person knew to hold it in…such manners long lost, now.

And the agenda for the evening – the entertainments – were kinder. But what could one do without the constant attention grabbing media of today? You were either talented or pretty or both. And, though Heinlein had his own opinion about the matter, poetry was a very important aspect to many cultures’ celebrations. I think the Celts definitely won in that category of history. No one tells a tale as they do. No one holds a tale across generations as well as they do. Look to that last stanza and tell me it isn’t as well-written a curse as any.

Donal Óg

by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory
Translated from an anonymous eighth-century Irish poem

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.
And myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

My mother said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith's forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you that put that darkness over my life.

You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

But their voice, ah – that is their added gift. Words and song…but I suppose that is what comes of so much trouble and travail. I believe I shall brush up again on what I once knew so intimately. Stories and song may be all we have to entertain one day to distract from our own travails.

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