Daltai na Gaeilge

Teanga Nódaithe

A Grafted Tongue

   Teanga Nódaithe

(Dumb,
bloodied, the severed
head now chokes to
speak another tongue -

    (Balbh,
    fuliteach, tachtann anois
     an ceann scoite, teanga
     eile a labhairt

As in
a long suppressed dream,
some stuttering garb-
led ordeal of my own)

    Mar i
    mbrionglóid fada celite
    oirdéal éigin snagaireacht
    leathbhreallach díom féin)

An lrish
child weeps at school
repeatng its English.
After each mistake

    Goileann
    páiste Gaelach ar scoil
    ag rá arís a chuid Béarla.
    i ndiaidh gach botún

The master
gouges another mark
on the tally stick
hung about its neck

    Gúistíonn
    An Máistir marc eile
    ar an mbata scóir
    snaidhmthe timpeall a mhuineál

Like a bell
on a cow, a hobble
on a straying goat,
To slur and stumble

    Ar nós clog
    ar an mbó, nó laincis
    ar an bpoc bhradach.
    A sciorradh is a thuisleach

In shame
the altered syllables
Of your own name:
to stray sadly home

    Gan céim
    na siollai aistrithe
    de d'ainm féin.
    A fhán go brónach abhaile

And find
the turf-cured width
of your parents' hearth
growing slowly alien:

    Agus fáil
    an leithead móinleasaithe
    de do thinteán féin
    ag éirí go mall eachtrann:

in cabin
and field, they still
speak the old tongue.
You may greet no one.

    i mbothán
    is gort, labhraítear
    an sean-teanga fós
    Ní fhéadfaidh tú beannú d'éinne.

To grow
a second tongue, as
harsh a humiliaton
as twice to be born.

    Ag fás
    dara teanga
    náire chomh garbh
    agus faoi dhó a bheith beirthe.

Decades later
that child's grandchild's
speech stumbles over lost
syllables of an old order.

    Cianta ina dhiaidh
    tuislíonn teangacha
    chlann clainne an pháiste sin
    thar siollaí chaillte an shean-nós.

By John Montague     Le John Montague
         (Aistriúchán le Tomás hÉadromáin)

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