Thursday, September 24, 2009
A ship set out from Valparaiso,
slipping its moorings in the bay
and taking as it went the kingdom
of the sun, the days of glory.
‘Abandon me’, she said, ‘and journey
to a place of clouds and fog,
forsake the blue slopes of the Andes
for a dark and rain-kissed city.’
I was young and off I went,
desperate days, of youth foresworn,
when I still believed no poems
were mine to sing, no yarns to tell.
I took that ship across the sea,
under sails that masked the sun
and threw their shadow on the dark
and high among the paltry stars.
One day I’ll return there though,
and see again that far white city
under the hill by a peaceful sea.
Dear God, I almost still believe it.
This is a reverse translation, I should explain, of a poem that will be familiar to generations of Irish schoolchildren – An t-Athair Pádraig de Brún’s ‘Do Tháinig Long ó Valparaiso’.
And now I’m nipping down the country for a Beckett shindig. Apologies for sparsity of prose posts of late and more on my return.