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Lyr ADD: Heavenly Banquet (English & Irish)

johnm (inactive) 14 Apr 99 - 08:59 PM
Philippa 15 Apr 99 - 06:32 AM
johnm (inactive) 15 Apr 99 - 11:34 AM
keberoxu 18 Dec 15 - 05:09 PM
keberoxu 25 Dec 15 - 07:29 PM
keberoxu 25 Dec 15 - 07:45 PM
keberoxu 11 Jan 16 - 01:42 PM
keberoxu 11 Jan 16 - 05:03 PM
keberoxu 11 Jan 16 - 05:20 PM
keberoxu 20 Jan 16 - 07:34 PM
keberoxu 21 Jan 16 - 06:47 PM
keberoxu 05 Feb 16 - 01:29 PM
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Subject: heavenly banquet
From: johnm (inactive)
Date: 14 Apr 99 - 08:59 PM

Anybody know the Irish to this song?

The Heavenly Banquet
I would like to have the men of Heaven in my own house;
with vats of good cheer laid out for them.
I would like to have the three Marys, their fame is so great.
I would like people from ev'ry corner of Heaven.
I would like them to be cheerful in their drinking.
I would like to have Jesus sitting here among them.
I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity.

10th century
(attributed to St. Bridget., translation by Sean O'Faolain from the Irish)
Set to music in the Hermit Songs, Op 29 by Samuel Barber.
Sung by Barbara Bonney with Andre Previn on the piano in the Album "Sallie Chisum remembers Billy the Kid"


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Subject: RE: heavenly banquet
From: Philippa
Date: 15 Apr 99 - 06:32 AM

You might find it through one of these sites: http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaeilge/gaeilge.html#seanseanGhaeilge
Corpus of Electronic Texts
Kuno Meyer, Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry (London 1911), books of old Irish poetry by Gerald Murphy and by James Carney. I can't promise Heavenly Banquet is in any of these, but they are likely sources.


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Subject: RE: heavenly banquet
From: johnm (inactive)
Date: 15 Apr 99 - 11:34 AM

Thanks I will look for them


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Subject: RE: heavenly banquet
From: keberoxu
Date: 18 Dec 15 - 05:09 PM

The Corpus of electronic texts linked me to this one.

Ropadh maith lem
cormlind mór do rígh na rígh;
muinntir nimhe aca hól tre bithe sí.

Ropadh maith lem
taurte creitme, crábaid glain;
Ropadh maith lem
sústa etla oc mo threib.

Ropadh maith lem
fir nimhe im thegdais féin;
Ropadh maith lem
dabcha amneit do a réir.

Ropadh maith lem
lestru déirrce do dáil;
Ropadh maith lem
escra trócaire dia dáimh.

Ropadh maith lem
soichell do bith ina luss;
Ropadh maith lem
Ísu beos do beith i fuss.

Ropadh maith lem
na teora Mairi, miad a clú;
Ropadh maith lem
muinntir nime da chech dú.

Ropadh maith lem
corbam císaige don flaith;
mad chess imned forsa tipredh bendacht maith.

the subheading reads:
Ascribed to Saint Brigit
Brussels Bibliotheque Royale


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Subject: RE: heavenly banquet
From: keberoxu
Date: 25 Dec 15 - 07:29 PM

In the post that opens this thread, the English boils down to about four stanzas in Sean O'Faolain's translation.

In the preceding post, you can see that the old Irish adds up to seven stanzas. This message will add an English translation that is closer to the seven stanzas from the Gaelic original.

I wish I had a great lake of ale
for the King of Kings,
and the family of heaven
to drink it through time eternal.

I wish I had the meats
of belief and genuine piety,
and the threshers of penance
in my hall.

I wish I had the men of heaven
in my own house,
with basins full of peace
to be at their disposal.

I wish I had vessels of charity
to distribute
and caves of mercy
for their company.

I would like cheerfulness
to be in their drinking.
I would like Jesus also
to be here.

I would like to have
the three Marys, of great renown,
and the people of heaven
from all quarters.

I would like to be a tenant to the Lord,
so that should I suffer distress,
he would confer upon me
a good blessing.

When I am more certain of the source of this translation, I will add same to this thread.


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Subject: RE: heavenly banquet
From: keberoxu
Date: 25 Dec 15 - 07:45 PM

Well, the translation in the previous message is online at the website for the Basilica for the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, but that still doesn't tell me who did the translating.


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Subject: scholar David Greene vs. Sean O'Faolain
From: keberoxu
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 01:42 PM

The first post on this thread gives Samuel Barber's musical setting as he adapted it from the English translation by Sean O'Faolain, published in "The Silver Branch." In his opening remarks in this latter anthology, O'Faolain admits that, although he has the modern Gaelic, more antique forms of Irish are not his specialty, that he is no Old Irish or Middle Irish expert, and that his translations depend upon the English-translation work of the generation of scholars and academics before him for their authenticity.

Nor could O'Faolain leave well enough alone. He went on to modify his own translation and print it on page 33 of a later book, "Irish Journey." Like his earlier attempt, this translation reduces St Brigid's seven stanzas to four. Note how it differs from the first post in this thread.

I would like to have the men of Heaven in my own house;
with vats of good cheer laid out before them.
I would like to have the three Marys whose fame is so great.
I would like to have people from every corner of heaven.
And I would like them to be merry in their carousing,
I would like to have Jesus among them, too.
I would like to have a great lake of beer for Christ the King.
I'd like to be watching the heavenly family
drinking it down through all eternity.

In 1952, David Greene, from a new post-war generation of Irish-language academics and scholars, opened his article in "Celtica vol 2," one of the journals of that era, with the O'Faolain revision presented here in this post -- the better to take on O'Faolain and to set the record straight. Having done so, Greene goes on to quote further.

'There is a note on this translation, in which Mr. O'Faolain says:
" This is the only poem of its kind that I have found in connection with the Irish Church and it warms my heart to think that we once had so much cheerful humanity among our holy people." '

A future post will submit David Greene's own translation of St Brigid's seven stanzas of verse, with further remarks.


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Subject: RE: heavenly banquet
From: keberoxu
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 05:03 PM

David Greene again:
"Remembering that misunderstandings of early Irish poetry have given rise in the past to some remarkable views on the Irish Church, it is worth while, I think, publishing this poem again....The ascription to St. Brigid may have been inspired by memories of her miraculous provision of ale for visitors....But, however much the picture so obtained may warm Mr. O'Faolain's heart, there is no authority for it in the Irish text." pp. 151 - 152

At this point it may be asked what Greene does see, instead, in "this curious poem."

Greene's remarks lay weight on the following words, from the Gaelic:
cormlind [coirm]
taurte
sústa
dabcha amneit
lestru déirrce
escra trócaire
soichell
císaige
flaith

Greene again, on page 152:
"The sense is obvious enough; the poet, regarding himself as a 'císaige' of God, wishes to pay Him part of the tribute due to a 'flaith,' an alefeast....But here the offerings are plainly spiritual ones -- beakers of alms, vessels of mercy. The metaphor is somewhat unusual, and certainly a most entertaining result can be arrived at by ignoring it altogether and omitting the inconvenient names of the virtues which are to compose the feast."


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Subject: RE: heavenly banquet
From: keberoxu
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 05:20 PM

Have kept you waiting long enough for this: David Greene's translation, page 152.

I would like a great alefeast for the king of kings.
I would like that the people of heaven should be drinking it eternally.

I would like the harvest of belief, of pure piety;
I would like threshels of penitence in my dwelling.

I would like the men of heaven in my house;
I would like casks of patience to serve them.

I would like to distribute beakers of alms;
I would like vessels of mercy for the company.

I would like hospitality to follow them;
I would like Jesus to be here continually.

I would like the three Maries, of fair fame;
I would like the people of heaven from every place.

I would like to be a rent-payer of the [land]lord;
happily have I suffered care
on whom He would would bestow a good blessing.


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Subject: RE: heavenly banquet
From: keberoxu
Date: 20 Jan 16 - 07:34 PM

To be fair, amongst poets and academics/scholars who were attracted to the Heavenly Banquet verses, O'Faolain has company. One of the pioneering Old-Irish philologists, who ought to have known better, was just as distracted as O'Faolain by the opening stanza about the ale-feast, distracted from the Christian virtues enumerated in the remaining stanzas. This scholar's name was Whitley Stokes, whose dates are 1830 - 1909. He did the verses, and indirectly St. Brigid, no favors at all, when he published an article about the manuscript source of the lyric. Stokes devoted pages and pages of his article to line-by-line translations of the Martyrology in the manuscript; but he would not so much as quote, let alone translate, the ale-feast poem. He dismisses the lyric, instead, with these remarks:

"This curious poem, in which God is regarded as a soma-quaffing Indra, is followed by a scribe's note stating that it was transcribed in Dublin on 1 August 1627, from an old vellum book belonging to Flann mag Craith."

So, to add insult to injury, Stokes compares this to the folklore of Hinduism.
Of interest in Stokes' report, is his witness to the scribe's comment in the manuscript. If The Heavenly Banquet was in a bound manuscript which was considered "old" in 1627, one may speculate how much longer the poem had been around. The manuscript described by Stokes is not in Ireland, by the way, but in Brussels, Belgium, and it supplies the only known copy of The Heavenly Banquet -- no other source is known.


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Subject: O'Faolain's Heavenly Banquet
From: keberoxu
Date: 21 Jan 16 - 06:47 PM

Redundant, I know, but I will take that risk, in order to quote the 1952 critique again. This is philologist David Greene, on the subject of Sean O'Faolain's revision of Saint Brigid's Ale-Feast, or, as O'Faolain terms it, The Heavenly Banquet. Samuel Barber's musical setting, as quoted in the message which opens this thread, repeats exactly O'Faolain's version from The Silver Branch.

About O'Faolain's The Heavenly Banquet, David Greene said:

"....certainly a most entertaining result can be arrived at by ignoring it altogether
(meaning, the tribute paid to a flaith [landlord] by a císaige)
and [by] omitting the inconvenient names of the virtues which are to compose the feast." endquote
That needle is sharp enough to draw blood, yes?


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Subject: RE: Lyr ADD: Heavenly Banquet (English & Irish)
From: keberoxu
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 01:29 PM

The key to St. Brigid's Ale-Feast, obviously, is in those three verses which Sean Ó'Faolain decided to omit. Most particularly, it is in those two words in the seventh and final verse:
císaige; and flaith.

To complicate matters further yet for a translator:
"flaith" is two words in one, with two entirely different meanings.
One meaning of "flaith" is beer or ale.
The other is landlord, chieftain, feudal baron.
It is actually indicated which of the two meanings is intended, by that key word "císaige," which means a vassal who pays tribute/rent.

So this feudal metaphor is Brigid's celebration of the sovereignty of her heavenly Lord and of the privilege of being His vassal. And the whole point of uniting Heaven and Earth at an ale-feast where she dwells, is not to get everybody intoxicated, but to rejoice in a harvest of virtues.


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