I bring you news

Like yesterday, another anonymous poem from mediaeval times, although this is earlier, reputedly dating from the 9th century, and from Ireland, on the western edge of Europe. I got this poem on a t-shirt which I bought on a visit to the west of Ireland, to county Clare and Galway. The t-shirt had the original Gaelic text, which I can’t read, but there was a paper with an English translation supplied. This is that English version.
It is quite a simple piece, depicting a winter scene in Ireland.

Poem: anon. c9th century

I bring you news
the stag bellows
winter snow
summer past

a high cold wind
low the sun
short its course
seas run strong

russet bracken
shape awry
wild goose raises
with a cry

cold lays hold
on wings of bird
an icy time
that is my story

From <https://www.spailpin.com/en/t-shirts/adults-unisex-t-shirts/scel-lemm-duib-t-shirt-detail&gt;

The poem begins with an attention-grabbing opening – “I bring you news”, which pulls the reader or listener into a state of heightened attention. There then follow stark, succinct descriptions of the winter cold and animals and birds feeling the grip of winter. The wind, the short days, the snow and ice, the cold, the wild seas are echoed in the bellow of the stag, and the cry of the goose. Humans are not present in these descriptions except by implication in the last line – “that is my story”, which implies a human out in the winter cold and witnessing the cold and desolate landscape.

A very evocative poem which brings home to us what might have been some of the real experience of winter before modern heating, snow-clearing and the like.

The Poetry Dude


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