THE BOOK OF FLIES (THE UNHOLY QUATRAINS 1)


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These four line poems provide humor and reflection on our reality from an alternate universe, the world of the literate fly. Try it, and let your mind take flight. Unlimited One-Day Delivery and more. There's a problem loading this menu at the moment.

Learn more about Amazon Prime. Get to Know Us. Not Enabled Word Wise: Enabled Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item Would you like to tell us about a lower price? Delivery and Returns see our delivery rates and policies thinking of returning an item? King who bestowed them according to their posts, around the world with many adjustments, each two winds of them about a separate curb, and one curb for the whole of them.

King who arranged them in habitual harmony, according to their ways, without over-passing their limits ; at one time, peaceful was the space, at another time, tempestuous. The winds were apparently harnessed, curbed, or fettered two and two, the whole being held together in one fetter. This is that cold air circulating in its aerial series? The distance from the moon to the sun King who measured clearly, with absolute certainty, two hundred miles, great the sway, with twelve and forty miles. Three times as much, the difference is not clear?

This is the perfect Olympus, motionless, immovable, according to the opinion of the ancient sages which is called the Third Holy Heaven. Laws of Ireland, vol. The measure of the space from the earth to the firmament, it is the measure of the difference from the firmament to heaven.

Twenty-four miles with thirty hundred miles is the distance to heaven, besides the firmament. The measure of the whole space from the earth to the Kingly abode, is equal to that from the rigid earth down to the depths of hell. King of each Sovereign lord, vehement, ardent, who of His own force set going the firmament as it seemed secure to Him over every space. He shaped them from the formless mass. The poem goes on to speak of the division of the universe into five zones, a torrid, two temperate, and two frigid zones, and of the earth revolving in the centre of the universe, with the firmament about it, " like a shell encircling an egg.

The con- stellations are then named, and the first section of the poem ends as follows: The day of the solar month, the age of the moon, the sea-tide, without error, the day of the week, the festivals of the perfect saints, after just clearness, with their variations. Heaven with its multitude of hosts, noble, durable, exceeding spacious, a strong mighty city with a hundred graces, a tenth of it the measure of the world.

Therein are three ramparts undecaying, fixedly they surround heaven, a rampart of emerald crystal, a rampart of gold, a rampart of amethyst. The measure of each door severally of the four chief doorways, placed side by side, by calculation, is a mile across each single door. In each doorway a cross of gold before the eyes of the ever-shining host ; the King wrought them without effort, they are massive, very lofty. Overhead, on each cross, a bird of red gold, full- voiced, not unsteady ; in every cross a great gem of precious stone.

Every day an archangel with his host from Heaven's king, with harmony, with pure melody, gather around each several cross. Before each doorway is a lawn, fair. Vast though you may deem the extent of the spacious lawns, a rampart of silver, undecaying, has been formed about each several lawn. The portals of the walls without around the fortress on every side, with its dwellings soundly placed, affording abodes? Each portal abounding in plants, with their bronze foundations, a rampart of fair clay has been established strongly about each portal.

Twelve ramparts — perfect the boundary? Gratings or doors of silver, fair in aspect, I. The ramparts of the lawns, as is meet, wrought of white bronze, their height — mighty in brilliance — is as that from the earth to the pure sun. The measure of comparison of the three ramparts which surround the chief city, their height shows a distance equal to that from the earth to the firmament.

In the circuit of the ramparts — great its strength? Therein are flowering lands ever fresh in all seasons, with the produce of each well-loved fruit with their thousand fragrances. The nine grades of heaven, 1. The number of each host, unmeasured gladness, there is none that could know it, except the King should know it who created them out of nothing. A majestic King over them all. King of flowery heaven, a goodly, righteous, steadfast King, King of royal generosity in His regal dwelling. My King from the beginning over the host, " sanctus Dominus Sabaoth," to whom is chanted upon the heights, with loving guidance,?

The King who ordained the perfect choir of the four-and-twenty holy ones, sweetly they chant the chant to the host " sanctus Deus Sabaoth. A perfect choir, with glories of form, of the stainless virgins, chants pure music along with them following after the shining Lamb. Equal in beauty, in swiftness, in brightness, across the Mount surrounding the Lamb ; the name inscribed on their countenances, with grace, is the name of the Father.

The King who ordained the voice of the heavenly ones by inspiration, full, strong-swelling, as the mighty wave of many waters ; Or like the voice of sound-loving harps they sing, without fault, full tenderly, like multitudinous great floods over every land, or like the mighty sound of thunder. On which sits the splendid bird-ilock sustaining a perfect melody of pure grace, without decay, with gracious increase of fruit or of foliage.

Beauteous the bird-flock which sustains it, i. His are the seven heavens, perfect in might, without prohibition, without evil, whitely moving around the earth, great the wonder? Air, ether, over all Olympus, the firmament, heaven of water, heaven of the perfect angels, the heaven where is the fair-splendid Lord. The Lord, the head of each pure grade, who gathered?

King who formed the pure Heaven. We have omitted a few of them in the translation. Prince who gave a clear admonition. The figures in brackets after the title of the chapters are the numbers of the poems or cantos in the text. The above is con- jectural. The Devil was jealous thereat 1. All the living creatures in the flesh my Holy King has created them, outside Paradise without strife Adam it is who used to order them.

At the time when out of every quarter the hosts of the seven heavens used to gather round my High King, every fair corporeal creature used to come together to Adam. Then they would return right-hand-wise without seed of pride or any murmuring, each of them to its very pure abode after taking leave of Adam. The very fierce, double-headed beast, was subtle and watchful, with his twenty hosts, how under heaven he shall find a way to bring about the destruction of Adam.

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The serpent called outside, " dost thou hear me, O wife of Adam? Is it Jiadh, of which one meaning is " meat, ' or " food "? Eve took the perfect apple from the apple-tree most woeful the tale. Eve carried off the half, it was not well; she left the other half for Adam. King who drave from Thee the host of hell, who hast made them fast in equal wretchedness under trembling service. He God wounded in battle, though it was laborious, the keen wolf who was jealous.

The Devil was jealous thereat. King who bestowed the pleasurable earth 1. Because they were impoverished they went into the midst of the field, great was the mutual reproach perpetually between Eve and Adam. There is a word baltadh, " a border " O'R ; L. Herbs of the soil, green their colour, food of the senseless animals ; they are not tender for us as a meal, after the pleasant food of Paradise. Adam sfeaks " O Eve, let us with sincerity make lasting penance and repentance, that we might cleanse away before the King of Justice something of our sins, of our transgressions.

Angels of God each day from heaven from God to succour Adam, instructing him, as was permitted, to the end of nineteen days. Then Adam sought a mighty boon upon the River Jordan ; that it would " fast " with him upon dear God, with its multitude of creatures. The stream stood still in its course, in its onward motion ; the kingly stream paused from its flow that He might give forgiveness to Adam. All of them prayed, Adam, the stream, and the multitude of animals ; mournfully they poured forth their noble lamentation to the perfect host of the nine holy grades. That all the grades, openly, might beseech their Lord on their behalf that God should give full forgiveness, and should not destroy Adam.

God gave to His grades full pardon for the sin of Adam, and the habitation of the earth at all times with heaven, holily noble, all-pure. And He pardoned after that their descendants and their peoples, save him alone who acts unrighteously and transgresses the will of God unlawfully. The angel who destroyed them spake with her, in pity for her, as it seemed to her, " O modest Eve of the bright form, long hast thou tarried in the River Tigris. Lucifer speaks " O Eve, what has come to thee? O wandering Eve, thy guide is betraying thee ; the man who comes journeying with thee here, it is he who deceived thee in Paradise.

A long conversation follows between Adam and the Devil ; Adam demands why the Devil pursues them with such perpetual hatred and, in reply, Lucifer recounts his fall from heaven, which he says was caused by his refusal to obey the command of God that he should worship Adam. This command he refused, because he, 1 i. He details his present miseries, and his determination to take revenge on Adam and Eve.

A heavenly messenger is sent to her, to tell her that the soul of Adam is parted from the body, and that it is safe in the charge of the hosts of the archangel Michael. Then Eve went 1. When she heard not the voice of Adam speaking to her with fair beauty, her senses out of measure overpowered her, with long lamentations, with lasting sorrow.

While Eve was thus recognising the soul of Adam, she beheld coming towards it along the way hosts of angels chorus-singing. Then Eve beheld three white shining birds which across the sky from holy heaven had arrived? Up unto cloudy heaven was heard the choir of the holy angels around Michael ; they spread their pleasant ranks then circling about the altar of Adam. The angels sustained a fitting harmony round about the altar ; before all the host they burned a herb which is called " ornamentum. There went before the pure King a noble angel of the angels ; he sounded melodiously a clear, shrill note, its beautiful report was heard throughout the seven heavens.

God is frequently called the " King of the Seven Heavens," cf. Until they took the soul of Adam without pain, so that it was bathed in the unpassable? Then the King laid His hand, without any consuming? He commended it to Michael, fair is the tale! In Dante's Purgatorio Canto xxxi. Let the oil of mercy and the herb " ornamentum " be bestowed about the body of Adam to cleanse it from its vileness.

Around the body of Adam let three wholesome linen cloths, of special honour, be arranged ; and let it be buried exactly at the side of Abel's sepulchre. The flood of the deluge over every land, many countries did it upturn, it carried his head from Adam and brought it to Jerusalem.

High King of the Sun, clearly hath it been heard, 1. He heard a sound in the wave, even a chant of wailing and sadness, and he marvelled thereat. The beginning of the Christian era. HE old poet spake to the young poet: From the red sunrise of the dawn I come, Where grow the nine hazels of poetic art. From the wide circuits of splendour Out of which, according to their judgment, truth is weighed.

There is a land where righteousness is instilled, And where falsehood wanes into twilight. And thou, O well-spring of Knowledge, whence comest thou? I move along the columns of age, Along the streams of inspiration, Along the elf-mound of Nechtan's wife. I demand of thee, O wise youth, what it is that lies before thee? I travel towards the plain of age, Through the mountain-heights of youth.

I go forward to the hunting-grounds of old age, Into the sunny dwelling of a king death? In the Boyne dwelt the " salmon of knowledge," which the poet must consume, and at its source grew the hazels of poetic inspiration.

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Its tumuli were be- lieved to be the haunts of gods or fairies. Into the community of knowledge, Into the fair country inhabited of noble sages, Into the haven of prosperities, Into the assembly of the king's son. Into contempt of upstarts, Into the slopes of death where great honour lies- O Son of Instructions, whose son art thou? Meditation son of lore, Lore son of research. Research son of enquiry. Enquiry son of wide knowledge, Knowledge son of good sense, Good sense son of understanding. Understanding son of wisdom.

Wisdom son of the three gods of Poetry. O Fount of Wisdom, of whom art thou the son? Adam, the High One, is his name.

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Whitley Stokes' edition of the Colloquy see note, p, I am the wind on the sea for depth ; I am a wave of the deep for weight ; I am the sound of the sea for horror ; I am a stag of seven points? Who but the Poet knows in what place the sun goes down? Who declares them, the ages of the moon? Who brings his kine from Tethra's house? For whom will the fish of the laughing sea be making welcome, but for me?

Who shapeth weapons from hill to hill wave to wave, letter to letter, point to point? I, the druid, who set out letters in Ogham ; I, who part combatants ; I, who approach the fairy-mounds to seek a cunning satirist, that he may compose chants with me. I am the wind on the sea. Wife of the ruddy palms Let not thy mind be filled with terror's qualms ; The head of hosts, the one Whom thousands shall ex- tol, shall be thy son.

In the same timely hour upon this earth He and the King of the World have their birth ; Through the long ages' gloom Now and to the day of doom Praises shall echo through the realm of life. Heroes, at sight of him, cease their strife ; Hostages they twain shall never be The Christ and he. On the plain of Inisfail he shall come forth. On the flag-stone of the meadow to the North.

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Conchobhar, son of Ness " ungentle," is his name ; Raids and red routs his valour will proclaim. Born in pain and danger, He will be our gracious Lord, Son of gentle Cathva. Overseas thy hosts thou wilt fling ; Little songster from the Brug, Little kid, we welcome you.

From the " Wooing of Etain. It is drowning with water, It is a race against heaven, It is champion-feats beneath the sea. It is wooing the echo ; So is my love, and my passion, and my de- votion to her to whom I gave them. In joyous health mayest thou awake ; Look thou on Macha's King, beloved. Thy heavy slumber likes him not. Note thou each wonder in its turn. Behold, for it avails thee well, Its cold, its length, its want of colour!

I found him seated at the cairn. Ringed round by thousands of weaponed men, Yellow the hair on him, beauteous its hue, A ball of ruddy gold enclosing it.

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After a time he recognised me, In the purple, five-folded mantle. He spake to me, " Wilt thou come with me To the house wherein is Failbe Fand? Copper are the borders of the beds, White the pillars overlaid with gold ; This the candle in their midst, A lustrous precious stone. At the door westward In the place where sets the sun, Stand a herd of grey palfreys, dappled their manes, And another herd purple-brown. There stand at the Eastern door Three ancient trees of purple pure, From them the sweet, everlasting birds Call to the lads of the kingly rath.

At the door of the liss there is a tree. Out of which there sounds sweet harm. Its lustrous splendour like to gold. Three twenties of trees are there, Their crests swing together but do not clash, From each of those trees three hundred are fed With fruits many- tasted, that have cast their rind. There is a well in the noble? There is a maiden in the noble? Her discourse with each in turn Is beauteous, is marvellous, The heart of each one breaks With longing and love for her. The noble maiden said: If thou be he, come hither awhile — The gillie of the Man from Murthemne. Fear for my honour seized me, She asked me, " Comes he hither, The famous son of Dechtire?

That he might see, as it is, The mighty house that I have seen. Cuchulain, whose home-lands lay in the Plain of Murthemne, in the district of Co. Louth ; Laegh was Cuchulain's charioteer. Happier it were for me to be here, Subject to thee without reproach, Than to go, — though strange it may seem to thee, — To the royal seat of Aed Abrat. The man is thine, O Emer, He has broken from me, O noble wife. No less, the thing that my hand cannot reach, I am fated to desire it. Many men were seeking me Both in shelters and in secret places ; My tryst was never made with them, Because I myself was high-minded.

With fifty women hast thou come hither, Noble Emer, of the yellow locks, To overthrow Fand, it were not well To kill her in her misery. Three times fifty have I there, — Beautiful, marriageable women, — Together with me in the fort: They will not abandon me. The crown of their head like the primrose hair. Their bodies below as the colour of snow. There in that land is no " mine " or " thine," White the teeth there, eyebrows black. Brilliant the eyes — great is the host — And each cheek the hue of the foxglove.

We behold everyone on every side. And none beholds us ; The gloom of Adam's transgression it is Conceals us from their reckoning. O Woman, if thou come among my strong people, A golden top will crown thy head ; Fresh swine-flesh, new milk and ale for drink Thou shalt have with me, O woman fair! Red are the oxen around who toil: Heavy the troops that my words obey ; Heavy they seem, and yet men are they.

Strongly, as piles, are the tree-trunks placed: Red are the wattles above them laced: Tired are your hands, and your glances slant ; One woman's winning this toil may grant! Oxen ye are, but revenge shall see ; Men who are white shall your servants be ; Rushes from Teffa are cleared away ; Grief is the price that the man shall pay: Stones have been cleared from the rough Meath ground ; Where shall the gain or the harm be found? Thrust it in hand! Force it in hand! Nobles this night, as an ox-troop, stand ; Hard is the task that is asked, and who From the bridging of Lamrach shall gain, or rue?

And though it might be a httle thing to raise her head or to bring a smile over her lip, never once did she do it through all that space of time. She took not sufficiency of food or sleep, nor lifted her head from her knee. When people of amusement were sent to her, she would break out into lamentation: Sweet though the excellent mead be found Drunk by the son of Ness of mighty conflicts ; I have shared ere now, from a chase on the borders. Abundant provender more delicious! How melodious soever at every time May be the sound of pipes and horns, Here to-day I make my confession, I have heard music sweeter far!

Here with Conchobar the king Sweet the sound of pipes and horns ; More melodious to me the music. Famous and entrancing, of Usna's sons. The sound of the wave was the voice of Noisi, Melodious music that wearied not ever ; Mellow the rich- toned notes of Ardan, Or the deep chant of Ainle through the hunting-booth. Loved one of the well-trimmed beard! Shapely one, though thy renown be fair!

Alas I to-day I rise not up To greet the coming of Usna's sons. Fergus mac Roy and his sons, who induced the sons of Usna to return with them to Ireland, where they were slain by King Conchobar. Dear the grey eye, a woman's love ; Though stern of aspect to the foe! As we passed through the trees to the simple tryst, Delightful thy deep notes across the sombre woods!

I sleep no more! No more I stain my finger-nails with red ; No greeting comes to me who watch — The sons of Usna return no more. Through half the wakeful night My mind is wandering out amongst the hosts ; Yet more than that, I neither eat nor smile. For me to-day no instant of deep joy. Nor noble house, nor rich adornments please ; In Emain's gatherings of her mighty men I find no peace, nor pleasure, nor repose.

Splendid as in your eyes may be the impetuous champions Who resort to Emain after a foray ; More brilliant yet was the return Of Usna's heroes to their home! To me nought but tears and lamentation hast thou meted out ; This is my life, so long as life shall last ; Thy love for me is as a flame put out.

Thou hast torn him from me, great was the injury, I see him not until I die. The secret of my grief, that it is gone. The form of Usna's son revealed to me ; A pile I see dark-black above a corpse, Bright and well known to me beyond all else. Break not, my heart, to-day! I sink ere long into an early grave ; like to the strong sea-wave The grief that binds me, if thou but knowest, O King! What, O Conchobar, of thee? To me nought but tears and lamentation hast thou meted out ; This is my life, so long as life shall last ; Thy love, methinks, is as a flame put out.

Stags contend ; Snows descend — Summer's end! A chill wind raging ; The sun low keeping, Swift to set O'er seas high sweep- ing. Dull red the fern ; Shapes are shadows: Keen cold limes Each weaker wing. Icy times — Such I sing! Each gleaming furrow is a river, A loch in each ford's room. Each pool is deepened to a perilous pit, A standing-stone each plain, a wood each moor ; The clamouring flight of birds no shelter finds. White snow winds towards the door.

Like to a spectral host each sharp slim shape, Each leaping lake swelled to a mighty main ; Wide as a wether's skin each falling flake, Shield-broad, each drop of rain. Swift frost again hath fastened all the ways, It strove and struggled upwards o'er the wold, About Colt's standing-stone the tempest sways, Shuddering, men cry, " 'Tis cold! May-day 1 delightful day 1 Bright colours play the vale along. Now wakes at morning's slender ray Wild and gay the blackbird's song. Now comes the bird of dusty hue, The loud cuckoo, the summer-lover ; Branchy trees are thick with leaves ; The bitter, evil time is over.

Swift horses gather nigh Where half dry the river goes ; Tufted heather clothes the height ; Weak and white the bogdown blows. Corncrake sings from eve to morn, Deep in corn, a strenuous bard! Sings the virgin waterfall, White and tall, her one sweet word. Loaded bees with puny power Goodly flower-harvest win ; Cattle roam with muddy flanks ; Busy ants go out and in. Men grow mighty in the May, Proud and gay the maidens grow ; Fair is every wooded height ; Fair and bright the plain below. A bright shaft has smit the streams, With gold gleams the water-flag ; Leaps the fish, and on the hills Ardour thrills the leaping stag.

Loudly carols the lark on high, Small and shy, his tireless lay. Singing in wildest, merriest mood, Delicate-hued, delightful May. Beneath her russet oaks the acorns fall, Cool water in her streams, and, scattered all. Dark berries lurk, like down-dropped hidden tears, Beneath her slowly-moving grasses tall.

Greyhounds there were in her, and beagles brown ; And, when the winding horn her stillness shocks, From out the friendly shelter of her rocks The startled stag leaps down. Around her noble crags, in thickening flocks, To one another wheeling sea-mews cry ; Yet, all unmoved, the fawns feed silently. Unconscious of the storm-cloud's gathering frown That spreads across the leaden autumn sky. Smooth were her level lands and sleek her swine, Cheerful her fields true is the tale I tell The heavy hazel-boughs remembered well.

The purple crop, where bramble-trails entwine. Her whispering streams, her clear deep pools I miss, Where brown trout browse beneath the fairy liss ; Pleasant thine isle, Arran of bounding stags, On such a sultry summer's day as this. Seek out the camp of Fionn and of his men Upon the westward side ; Take there, in time to come, another mate, Here I abide.

Goll's wife replies Which way, O GoU, is my way, and thou perished? Small praise that woman hath whose lord is gone And no protector nigh! I whom great GoW cherished And made his wife? Or Carroll of the blood-stained hand? Shall I make Angus, son of Hugh, my prize?

Or swift-foot Corr, chief of the fighting-band? Thee out of all I loved, thee my first master, Gentlest and bravest thou ; Seven years we lived and loved, through calm and tumult, And shall I leave thee now? From that night till to-night I found thee never Of harsh and churlish mind ; And here I vow, no other man shall touch me, Kind or unkind. Here on this narrow crag, foodless and sleepless, Thou takest thy last stand ; A hundred heroes, Goll, lie rotting round thee, Slain by thy dauntless hand. In the wide ocean near us, life is teeming ; Yet on this barren rock I sink from hunger, and the wild briny waters My thirst-pangs mock.

Though all my dear loved brothers by one caitiff Lay slaughtered in my sight, That man I'd call my friend, yea, I would love him, Could my thirst ease to-night. Eat, Son of Morna, batten on these dead bodies. This is my last behest ; Feast well, gaunt GoU, then quench thy awful craving Here at my breast.

Nought is there more to fear, nought to be hoped for, Of life and all bereft High on this crag, abandoned and forsaken, Nor hope nor shame is left. Lips that of old made speech and happy music, Now dry and harsh with drouth. Depart not yet ; upon this barren islet, Beneath this brazen sky, Sweet lips and gentle heart, we sit together Until we die. Better to me the shining locks of youth, Or raven's dusky hue. Than drear old age, which chilly wisdom brings, If what they say be true. I only know that as I pass the road. No woman looks my way ; They think my head and heart alike are cold- Yet I have had my day.

Yet still the ungovernable stag bells forth his cry. To-night laid not his side upon the ground The deer of Slievecarn of the hundred fights ; He, with the stag of Echtge's frozen heights. Caught the wolves' snarl, and quivered at the sound. I, Caoilte, wakeful lie, and Dermot Donn, We, with keen Oscar of the footsteps fleet, Watch the slow hours of moving night retreat, Whilst the dread pack of hungry wolves comes on. Well rests the ruddy deer in dawn's dim light, Deep breathing near the covering earthen mound, Hidden from sight, as 'twere beneath the ground.

All in the latter end of chilly night. From my firm grasp the javelin flew apace. I thank Heaven's King, I thank sweet Mary's Son, My hand it was that silenced countless men ; They lie stretched out beneath us in the glen. Colder than we, death-cold, lies many and many an one. Sleep a little, with my blessing, Dermuid of the light- some eye, I wiU guard thee as thou dreamest, none shall harm while I am by.

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Sleep, O little lamb, whose homeland was the country of the lakes. In whose bosom torrents tremble, from whose sides the river breaks. Sleep as slept the ancient poet, Dedach, minstrel of the South, When he snatched from Conall Cernach Eithne of the laughing mouth. Sleep in joy, as slept fair Aine, Gailan's daughter of the west, Where, amid the flaming torches, she and Duvach found their rest.

Sleep as Degha, who in triumph, ere the sun sank o'er the land. Stole the maiden he had craved for, plucked her from fierce Deacall's hand.

Fold of Valour, sleep a little. Glory of the Western world ; I am wondering at thy beauty, marvelling how thy locks are curled. Like the parting of two children, bred together in one home. Like the breaking of two spirits, if I did not see you come. Swirl the leaves before the tempest, moans the night- wind o'er the lea, Down its stony bed the streamlet hurries onward to the sea.

In the swaying boughs the linnet twitters in the darkling light, On the upland wastes of heather wings the grouse its heavy flight.

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On the stormy mere the wild-duck pushes outward from the brake, With her downy brood beside her seeks the centre of the lake. In the east the restless roe-deer bellows to his frightened hind ; On thy track the wolf-hounds gather, sniffing up against the wind. Yet, O Dermuid, sleep a little, this one night our fear hath fled. Youth to whom my love is given, see, I watch beside thy bed. Tribulation to me the slaying of Conbeg, Little hound, of the baying voice ; Never was one more deft of paw Found in the running down of the deer. My smooth green rush, my laughter sweet, My little plant in the rocky cleft, Were it not for the spell on thy tiny feet Thou wouldst not here be left.

Monarch of Innisfail's forests the woodbine is, whom none may hold captive ; No feeble sovereign's effort is it to hug all tough trees in his embrace. The pliant woodbine if thou burn, wailings for mis- fortune will abound, Dire extremity at weapons' points or drowning in great waves will follow. Burn not the precious apple-tree of spreading and low- sweeping bough ; Tree ever decked in bloom of white, against whose fair head all men put forth the hand.

The surly blackthorn is a wanderer, a wood that the artificer burns not ; Throughout his body, though it be scanty, birds in their flocks warble. The noble willow burn not, a tree sacred to poems ; Within his bloom bees are a-su eking, all love the little cage. Dark is the colour of the ash ; timber that makes the wheels to go ; Rods he furnishes for horsemen's hands, his form turns battle into flight. Tenterhook among woods the spiteful briar is, burn him that is so keen and green ; He cuts, he flays the foot, him that would advance he forcibly drags backward.

Fiercest heat-giver of all timber is green oak, from him none may escape unhurt ; By partiality for him the head is set on aching, and by his acrid embers the eye is made sore. Alder, very battle-witch of all woods, tree that is hottest in the fight — Undoubtedly burn at thy discretion both the alder and whitethorn. Holly, burn it green ; holly, burn it dry ; Of all trees whatsoever the critically best is holly.

Elder that hath tough bark, tree that in truth hurts sore; Him that furnishes horses to the armies from the sidh burn so that he be charred. Suffer, if it so please thee, the russet aspen to come head- long down ; Burn, be it late or early, the tree with the palsied branch. Patriarch of long-lasting woods is the yew, sacred to feasts, as is well-known ; Of him now build ye dark-red vats of goodly size. Ferdedh, thou faithful one, wouldst thou but do my behest: To thy soul as to thy body, O man, 'twould work ad- vantage. Light of sun, Radiance of moon, Splendour of fire, Speed of hghtning, Swiftness of wind, Depth of sea.

I arise to-day Through God's strength to pilot me God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me From snares of devils. Christ to shield me to-day Against poison, against burning. Against drowning, against wounding. So that there may come to me abundance of reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise to-day Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the threeness. Through confession of the oneness Of the Creator of Creation. Blessing full of ruddy health, Blessing full of every wealth That her borders furnish forth, East and west and south and north ; Blessings from the Lord on high Over Munster fall and lie I Blessing on her peaks in air, Blessing on lier flag-stones bare ; Blessing from her ridges flow To her grassy glens below ; Blessings from the Lord on High Over Munster fall and lie!

Blessing from the Lord on High Over Munster fall and lie! Columcille, or Columba, was born , died A. Farewell from me to Ara's Isle, Her smile is at my heart no more, No more to me the boon is given With hosts of heaven to walk her shore. Have I to pass from Ara's view. To mix with men from Mona's fen, With men from Alba's mountains blue. O Ara, darling of the West, Ne'er be he blest who loves not thee!

A Ton of Feathers: Behind Enemy Lines with the Sonnet

O God, cut short her foeman's breath. Let hell and death his portion be. O Ara, darling of the West, Ne'er be he blest who loves not thee, Herdless and childless may he go, In endless woe his doom to dree. And leave the sky for this dear spot. At times plucking duilisc from the rocks ; At other times fishing ; At times distributing food to the poor. At times in a hermitage ; The best guidance from the presence of God Has been vouchsafed to me ; The King whom I serve will keep from me AH things that would deceive me. Cellach of Killala, when imprisoned in a hollow oak on the morning before his murder by his old comrades, circa Hail to the morning fair, that falls as a flame on the greensward ; Hail, too, unto Him who bestows her, the morn ever fruitful in blessings.

Under practically all circumstances, concision is a challenge in the sonnet form. Perhaps the musicality and horizontal flow suffers for these jagged, atonal edges. Enjambment introduces hiccups where one might prefer uninterrupted melody. A tasteless palette relishes sour verdicts. I feel myself being jarred with no jellybean reward at the bottom of the jar. In fact the intended effect recalls old Ms.

Sonnet experimentation notwithstanding, it is a rule I have carried to poetic lineation as well and have, without exception, managed to live with. Methinks enjambment that succeeds in pointing mostly to itself has ventured one trapdoor too far. That said I would never kick a stanza out of bed for making a mess of convention. We have yet to consider situational dynamics. Some topics simply lend themselves better to enjambment than do others.

For example, our frenetic, post-modern postal world seems better served by razor-sharp edges and capricious trapdoors. A garden ode to tiger lilies? We inhabit an era of collapsed attention spans, vapid emoticons, wafer-screens, dashed-off emails and brusque tweets. Authentic communication suffers in the digitized-ADHD cacophony. As our mediating syntaxes break down, why spare the sonnet a break, too? I suspect the world, for all its official protest, grudgingly admires something with the moxie to stand, on the one hand, against willful inarticulateness and on the other, against Rod McKuen.

So come on you barbaric bloody yawpers, the air is thick with dislocation! I call that guts. In the final days, order will indulge the creeping advance of chaos. Perhaps the fractured line is an accommodation, or a memorial, to sustained reflection. Do I belabor the enjambment technique? My overall consternation with the sonnet form is longstanding and broadly based to which this ten-year-old essay attests.

Exasperation is built into the fabric of the enterprise. I find writing them is not unlike a golf game, that is, a never-ending series of adjustments and corrections. Enjambment may be my version of a bad slice.

This is named by Watt, and may be a translation of the genuine first edition of the "Seven Centuries," but I have not met with it. Michael Sheehan's collections in Co. In last December treating upon Nostradamus in the Gentleman's Magazine, I had occasion to remark that every honest man of awakened powers is a kind of prophet, and has to do with the future, or eternity, as it is usually styled. Hanc spero rem et quaero quam Thy love to have where'er I am. Whether it came to us from the sixth century or from the sixteenth, the song of Crede for the dead man, whom she had grown to love only when he was dying, would equally move us ; the passionate cry of Liadan after Curithir would wring our 1 O'Giady's Catalogue of Irish ManmcHpis in the British Museum, p.

I enjoy the little surprises the traveling eye encounters falling from line to line. Perhaps too, irregular spaces between or even within lines beyond the line-space often but not always accorded between sestets six-line clumps quatrains four-line clumps and ending couplets are desired. Immediately I appreciated his rather astute insight. There, in amongst the tangled reeds of my sonnet, appeared a disheveled, mud-caked paragraph. This relaxed prose form, he suggested, allowed my poetry to breathe, where before I had been rather cruelly breaking its butterfly wings against a medieval wheel of fits and starts.

My loyalties were misplaced. The worship of form had crippled the primacy of unfettered impartation. He had a point. Form and content must spring forth with the simultaneity of spontaneous combustion. One cannot be seen to be clumsily seeking the other. The notion of nonce forms comes to mind. The tuning fork in my gut tells me the inherent music of a good, strong sonnet should survive the wholesale abandonment of its conventional visual-structure. Lineation may be overrated. After all the prose-poem is already a well-established poetry sub-genre.

The prose-sonnet amounts to nothing more than presenting an obdurate and venerable syntactic unit, the sonnet, in an altered visual format -- a mere flesh wound, one would think. What is the sonnet after all, a machinery of lines or the ghost behind the grid? Vision can countermand sound.