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Friday, October 24, 2014

Translating the Untranslated part 2 - the Morrigan's prophecy

So here's another translation from Old Irish, this one is the Morrigan's prophecy from the Cath Maige Tuired. The Old Irish text is from Gray. The English is my own, as always with the caveat that I am not fluent but am offering my own understanding of the material based on the way I personally translate it.

Fáistine leis an Mórrígu

Síth co nem.
Nem co doman.
Doman fo nim,
nert hi cach,
an forlann,
lan do mil,
míd co saith.
Sam hi ngam,
gai for sciath,
sciath for durnd.
Dunad lonngarg;
longait- tromfóid
fod di uí
ross forbiur benna
abu airbe imetha.
Mess for crannaib
craob do scís
scís do áss
saith do mac
mac for muin,
muin tairb
tarb di arccoin
odhb do crann
crann do ten.
Tene a nn-ail.
Ail a n-úir
uích a mbuaib
boinn a mbru.
Brú lafefaid
ossghlas iaer errach,
foghamar forasit etha.
Iall do tír
tír co trachd lefeabrea.
Bídruad rossaib síraib rithmár,
'Nach scel laut?'
Sith co nem

Prophecy of the Morrigan

Peace to sky.
Sky to earth.
Earth below sky,
strength in each one,
a cup overfull,
filled with honey,
sufficiency of renown.
Summer in winter,
spears supported by warriors,*
warriors supported by forts.
Forts fiercely strong;
banished are sad outcries
land of sheep
healthy under antler-points
destructive battle cries held back.
Crops [masts] on trees
a branch resting
resting with produce
sufficiency of sons
a son under patronage
on the neck of a bull
a bull of magical poetry
knots in trees
trees for fire.
Fire when wished for.
Wished for earth**
getting a boast
proclaiming of borders***.
Borders declaring prosperity
green-growth after spring
autumn increase of horses
a troop for the land
land that goes in strength and abundance.
Be it a strong, beautiful wood, long-lasting a great boundary
'Have you a story?'
Peace to sky
be it so lasting to the ninth generation

*scíath means shields but also "fighting man, warrior, guardian". The usual translation here is given as shield, but I prefer the imagery that comes with warrior, however it may also be taken as "spears supported by shields, shields supported by forts"
** alternately "wished for by flesh"
*** this line "boinn a mbru" is often translated as "calves in wombs" or something similar, assuming boinn should be boin or boinin - calf, and taking bru as womb. I believe in this case boinn is actually ad-boinn, a form of apad meaning to declare or proclaim, and bru here means boundary or border. I think this makes the most sense in context with the preceding and following lines.

Gray, E., (1983) Cath Maige Tuired

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