The Wave of Toime

history, irish, language, Nature, Poetry

The Wave of Toime is the latest in a series of translations for the ILS by Brian O’Connor of the great Irish poet of the late 17th and early 18th century, Aodhagán Ó Rathaille (c.1670–1726). ‘Tonn Toime’ describes the disturbed sleep of the poet and his appeal to the chieftains of the past for respite and a return to the old order. The pathetic fallacy of the screaming wave is yet another frustrated lament for the closing down of the civilisation that nurtured the poet.

The verse is included in the excellent Dánta Aodhagáin Uí Rathaille published by the Irish Texts Society, an early off-shoot of the ILS. O’Connor’s earlier translations for us from Ó Rathaille are also available on the ILS blog.


Tonn Toime / The Wave of Toime

An tan d’aistrigh go Duibhneachaibh, laimh le Tonn Toime i gCiarraighe(On moving to Deenach, near the Wave, in Kerry)
Is fada liom oidhche fhir-fhliuch gan suan, gan srann
Gan ceathra, gan maoin caoirigh na buaibh na mbeann;
Anfhaithe ar tuinn taoibh liom do bhuaidhir mo cheann
Is nar chleachtas im naoidhin fiogaigh na ruacain abhann.
A long night of sheeting rain without rest or sleep
Without wealth or herds, fields of horned cattle or sheep
Storms on the sea so near me shatter my peace
And my youth was not spent with dogfish or winkles to eat.
Da maireadh an ri dionmhar o bhruach na Leamhan
‘S an ghasra bhi ag roinn leis  ler thrua mo chall
I gceannas na gcrioch gcaoin gcluthar gcuanach gcam,
Go dealbh i tdir Dhuibhneach nior bhuan mo chlann.
If only the king still ruled on the banks of the Laune
And the warriors – boon to my cause – who served his crown
Sovereign of serene secluded sea-sheltered surround
Poverty in Deenach would not keep my family bound.
An Carrathach groidhe fiochmhar ler fuadhadh an meang,
Is Carrathach Laoi i ndaoirse gan fuascladh fann
Carrathach ri Chinn Tuirc i n-uaigh ‘s a chlann
‘S is atuirse trim chroidhe gan a dtuairisc ann.
McCarthy the fierce who loathed all things foul
McCarthy of Lee demeaned in low despond
McCarthy Kanturk and his kin deep in the ground
I am sad and weary their trace cannot be found.
Do shearg mo chroidhe im chliteach, do bhuaidhir mo leann
Na seabhaic nar frith cinnte, ag ar dhual an eang
O Chaiseal go Tuinn Chliodhna ‘s go Tuamhain thall
A mbailte ‘s a maoin dith-chreachtha ag sluaightibh Gall.
My heart is shrivelled, my peace of mind unwound
Proud hawks unstinting, fearless, true to their word
From Cashel  to Cliona’s Wave, Thomond and around
Their homes and weal devoured by a looting horde.
A thonn so thios is aoirde geim go h-ard
Meabhair mo chinn claoidhte od bheiceach ta
Cabhair da dtigeadh aris go hEirinn bhain
Do ghlam nach binn do dhingfinn fein id bhraghaid.
Oh wave beneath, whose screams resound so loud
Your howls and squeals defeat all sense and thought
Should our fair land receive the help we’ve sought
I’d ram your dreadful shriek back down your throat.