from Love songs from a dead tongue


 
 

12

Sighing heavy tonight, God!
heaviest yet;
for loss of the son of my own bright Niall
alive I'd walk under the earth.

All friends dwindle and fade
now that Niall is dimmed
the listening ear
hears no laughter.

Note these dead:
father mother and brothers,
and fosterkin, loved and revered,
dead and buried and gone.

Fair one held me high
over vatfulls of gold,
fed me nothing but honey,
count that fair one dead too.

Account also the young
who smiled on my knee
while I gave them a love
as if blood of my blood.

So many have gone
from the yellow-topped earth
yet this grieves me most:
Donal's cheek stroked with clay.

Though weakness and war
hunt the living
this value survives:
the love of the child of your blood.

Sorrow on her
trusts her son
to the care
of the foolish.

Grief on her
sent her son
into chaos
of waters and men.

Donal, son of bright Niall,
and of twelve generations of kings,
those lovers of verse
now past moving.

The child of such ancestry
darkens the sky;
white his hand, white his foot,
my heart heavy
             sighing.