Jonathan Locke Hart
a fragment of a lost manuscript, written Spring 2009,
Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, excavated years later
1. I have been
I have been
We have been all pushed
To the west rim
They have drummed and stolen
Our tongue. These poems are for those
Who drove us
The bards lost to a time with no poetry
Are an excavation
A late tongue time has given us
In mutation with the spaces
Where peoples moved like the wind.
2. Chomh haosta leis an gceo
Chomh haosta leis an gceo
As old as the mist
We are, hanging on western
Mountains, pushed into the sea
Almost, gasping, our tongue
As we are driven, starved,
Left to die. The tribes from south,
And east came
Died slowly, in shambles,
Tatters, buried in the peat, bog after bog.
We are the mist rising in the morning
Burnt off in the sun
Unseen at night.
3. Chomh ata le frog sa bhfómhar
Chomh ata le frog sa bhfómhar
I am as swollen as a frog in autumn
My words are as bloated after
A long summer, and winter is almost
Come, like a lover who has spilt too much
On a ground grown fallow. The air
Is full of bombast: I have sucked
In my share, boasted like a warrior
The danger when the leaves
Turn is when the day grows
Still, I will puff up and explode.
4. Chomh balbh le trumpa gan teanga
Chomh balbh le trumpa gan teanga
Like a trumpet without a tongue
I will call so the walls do not
Come tumbling down. No one
Will hear me, my mute call,
Along the watch-tower,
Might fall music
To the night, escape the corners
Of my mouth, wet the dry blood
Encrusted there. Some proclaim
In a dark rain
This is the language of silence.
5. Chomh cantalach le mála easóg
Chomh cantalach le mála easóg
As bad-tempered as a sack of weasels
I am when you seize my land
Do not be astonished that I snap
And bite your hand, you starve me,
My children wizened as corn-stalk
Drying in the droughting sun.
Conquerors come and go
But do damage in the meantime
Yes, it is a mean time. You take up
Our names and erase them
With our myths.
And the winter rain would fall
And the summer sun would burn
The mist undone, in this no Celtic twilight.
6. Chomh cinnte le sioc
Chomh cinnte le sioc
As certain as frost
Death will come
It will take all of us
The sun will
Fade, and memory
Will go like spring behind.
They took our books,
They forbade our tongue
The fields grew vacant
As they pushed us into the sea
Into green-tongued famine.
The harvest is done
And we are done. The frost
At midnight comes
A frozen touch
To our graves
In the burden of sleep.
[The rest was lost]