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Lent: the herring

keberoxu 31 Jan 16 - 06:29 PM
keberoxu 31 Jan 16 - 06:51 PM
GUEST 31 Jan 16 - 11:18 PM
michaelr 01 Feb 16 - 02:50 AM
JHW 01 Feb 16 - 06:04 AM
keberoxu 01 Feb 16 - 02:39 PM
keberoxu 01 Feb 16 - 03:25 PM
keberoxu 04 Feb 16 - 01:17 PM
keberoxu 04 Feb 16 - 01:35 PM
keberoxu 04 Feb 16 - 07:44 PM
keberoxu 05 Feb 16 - 01:14 PM
keberoxu 07 Feb 16 - 03:22 PM
keberoxu 10 Feb 16 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,guest keberoxu 11 Feb 16 - 02:27 PM
keberoxu 05 Mar 16 - 02:21 PM
michaelr 05 Mar 16 - 03:04 PM
Thompson 05 Mar 16 - 08:43 PM
keberoxu 06 Mar 16 - 02:53 PM
keberoxu 21 Mar 16 - 04:52 PM
keberoxu 04 May 16 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 01 Mar 17 - 12:33 PM
keberoxu 13 Mar 17 - 09:29 AM
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Subject: Mo-chean do theacht, a sgadain
From: keberoxu
Date: 31 Jan 16 - 06:29 PM

Criostoir O'Floinn, in his anthology Irish Comic Poems, introduces this poem:

(under copyright, I suspect)
Of all the poets whose identity is..."File Gan Ainm" (poet with no name)....the author of this poem is the man I would most like to is a man living in the severe conditions of a Celtic monastery, ...whose sense of ironic humour can focus on a topic so unpoetic as the salted herring which confronts him as his dinner on Ash Wednesday.

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Subject: Mo-chean do theacht, a sgadain
From: keberoxu
Date: 31 Jan 16 - 06:51 PM


Mo-chean do theacht, a sgadáin!
druid liom, a dhaltáin uasail;
do chéad beatha 's do shláinte!
do thuillis fáilte uamsa.

Dar anam h'athar, a sgadáin,
gidh maith bradáin ná Bóinne
is duit labhras an duain-se,
ó's tú is uaisle 's is óige.

A fhir is comhghlan colann,
n´ch déanann comann bréige,
cara mar thú ní bhfuaras;
ná bíom suarach fá chéile.

Dá bhféachdaois uaisle Banbha
cia is mó tarbha don triúr-sa,
is rí ar gach iasg an scadán,
idir bradán is liúsa.

Is é ar bhféachain gach cósta
go crích bhóchna ná Gréige,
iasg is uaisle ná an sgadán
ní bhfuair Conán Chinn-tsléibhe.

A sgadáin shéimh shúgaigh,
a chinn chúmhdaigh an Chárghais,
a mhic ghrádhaigh mo charad,
leam is fada go dtángais!

Gidh mór do thuit a-nuraidh
dod ghaol bunaidh fán méis-se,
ná cuimhnigh fíoch ná fala,
ó's tú cara ná cléire.

A sgadáin shailltigh shuilbhir
nach bíonn go duilbhir dúinte,
leamsa do theacth ní hanait,
súil ar charaid an tsúil-se.

I dtús an Chárghais chéasta,
a fhir le ndéantar comhól,
ortsa, go teacht ná Cásga,
is mór mo ghrása's is romhór.

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
Date: 31 Jan 16 - 11:18 PM

Partial Translation:

"I borrowed a herring to sniff and feel and now the owner wants it back.
Will he notice a few bite marks of missing flesh ?
Oh dear he's bound to, I'm in big trouble.
I fear he will beat me to near death.
All for the temptation of that little morsel of fish.

Oh beautiful herring.
Oh deadly temptation.
Oh woeful sorrow,
I must run away to the colonies before my testicles are kicked to pulp."

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: michaelr
Date: 01 Feb 16 - 02:50 AM

Sushi is irresistible, no matter the penalty.

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: JHW
Date: 01 Feb 16 - 06:04 AM

Still a good while to Lent

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 01 Feb 16 - 02:39 PM

Ash Wednesday will be here sooner than you think.

Críostóir Ó'Floinn again. His anthology, to be redundant, is Irish Comic Poetry. This is the fourth of 24 poems in his little book, given in the original Gaelic, with his own translations to English. All under copyright.
The publisher is Cló Iar-Chonnachta, copyright date 1995.

Here are some more remarks from Ó'Floinn. Other writers, as future posts will show, differ in their interpretations of how this poem ended up in a manuscript. But Ó'Floinn is convinced that this author is a monk / friar, who has endured many Lents and is resigned to as many more Lenten seasons as the Good Lord will require of him.

Ó'Floinn, pp. 47 - 50

He is a monk, but in the poetic tradition of Columcille and the other monastic poets. Where he got his training in the rigorous bardic forms, to add to his natural artistic gift as a poet, is one of the questions I should like to put to him.
The fact that the meters and diction of Irish classical poetry remained unchanged from the 14th to the 17th centuries makes the exact dating of poems like this a matter of conjecture....the classical bardic rhyme scheme of the original, which in addition to the end-rhymes between the second and fourth line of each stanza, requires a rhyme between the end of the first line and some word inside the second line, similarly between between the end of the third line and a word inside the fourth line.
Irish prosody presents two problems: the older poetry of the bards was syllabic; from the seventeenth century onwards, the poets tended to abandon those difficult syllabic meters. But they still retained an amazingly complex system of rhyme and of internal assonance which is impossible to match in English.
....the bardic schools where a seven-year course in theory and practice was the normal apprenticeship even to the technical craft of poetry...

At first one imagines [the anonymous author] as jolly fat friar, but considering that his dinner for the forty days of Lent is to consist of one salted herring, I am more inclined to see him as a tall, gaunt ascetic, but with a twinkling eye and the soul of a born joker. will be noticed by the percipient that the Irish sense of humour is not of the "funny ha-ha" type. And in this context I quote from the introduction to another anthology, Dánta Grá, of medieval Irish love poetry. The Oxford professor and hibernophile, Dr. Robin Flower, says [in the preface]:

"There has always been in the Irish nature a sharp and astringent irony, a tendency to react against sentiment and mysticism, an occasional bias to regard life under a clear and humorous light....the light of this inexhaustible irony plays upon Irish life and letters....from MacConglinne to Merriman. We miss the point of much in the literature if we forget this."
[Críostóir Ó'Floinn]

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 01 Feb 16 - 03:25 PM

translation by Críostóir Ó'Floinn


Dear Herring, that you've come I'm so glad,
Move closer, young lad so well-bred,
Good health and long life may we have,
Fair welcome you're bade and deserve!

I swear by your father's own soul,
Tho' Boyne salmon afford a fine feed,
This verse is for you all alone,
Most noble and youthful of breed.

My fine chap, in your body so smooth,
Never false or untrue in your love,
No friend of your like have I found,
Let no foul play our friendship disprove.

If the nobles of Banba were to judge
The relative worth of these three,
Pike, salmon, or herring, we know
The fine fish that foremost would be.

Adventuring on far foreign coasts
From here to the oceans of Greece,
The hero Conán from Slea Head
Never met with your match in the seas.

O Herring, so merry and mild,
Sound minder of Lent's holy time,
Beloved fair son of loved friend,   
To end a long wait you've arrived.   

On this dish in the year that's gone by   
Many more of your tribe met their doom,   
But you harbour no venom or hate,   
To us clerics so faithful a boon.   

O Herring, so pleasant, so tasteful,   
Never baleful in aspect or mood,
To your coming I raise no objection,
With affection this look is imbued.

As Lent penitential begins,
With you I'll drink many a round,
To you, till the Easter sun rise,
'Tis right that my love should be bound.

[Irish Comic Poetry, copyright 1995

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 04 Feb 16 - 01:17 PM

The Monk's Welcome to the Herring has graced a number of anthologies in the last hundred years. One of the manuscript sources for this poem is at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, MS 23 I 4. The anthology Measgra Dánta is often cited for its editing by Thomas Francis O'Rahilly (first published 1927, Cork University Press). Other variations of this Gaelic text exist, such as the one edited by Brian O Cuiv (not sure of spelling) in a Gaelic-language article for the journal Éigse, Volume XV, 1974.

As poet/translator Ó'Floinn has observed, in quotes in earlier messages on this thread, this Gaelic poem conforms to the strictures of the poetry of bards (filidh?) from the era of classical Irish literature, an era in which rigorously educated bards, usually following in the steps of blood-related elders (hereditary), sought a suitable patron to sponsor their work. This brings up a curious factor in the poem for the salted herring for dinner. This poem is an affectionate parody of the classic bardic form, the dánta molta, or poems of praise. The conventional dán molta was written by the Gaelic bard in praise of his patron, enumerating the patron's many virtues.

Here, however, we have a devout Catholic of some stripe -- maybe a monk, maybe something else -- rising manfully to the challenge, on Ash Wednesday, of sitting down to dinner and avoiding the pitfall of responding, Oh, no, not another 40 days of Lent and a daily dinner of salted herring, all over again! Instead the poet summons the convention -- and a convention of some antiquity, by his time -- of the patronage relationship, and expounds on the virtues of 40 solid days of salted herring for dinner, putting the herring on a literary pedestal and addressing his dinner as if it were a most esteemed and honorable guest.

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 04 Feb 16 - 01:35 PM

Now, this translation, and introduction, I found on the Internet. I have not succeeded in contacting its author and asking permission to quote/reproduce his text here. He may slap my hand or something. Anyway, this comes from the blogspot dot com site for the Terenure chapter of the Active Senior IT Society, and was posted at said site on Friday, March 6, 2009. The author is Edmund Henry also/known/as Eamon Henry. My apologies and thanks to Mr. Henry.

This piece of Irish-language verse....can be dated to within the 17th century. From its content-matter, its author was probably a student for the priesthood at some Irish College abroad, such as Louvain or Bordeaux. It comprises a mock-serious poem of praise of a salted herring which the author is about to eat, this being the Lenten season. The herring is addressed as a noble young human, whose friendship is highly valued by the poet. No more need be said by way of description here. The translation into English is my own, [...] and renders meaning and sense rather than a tight literal version.


Beloved herring, come at last,
Draw near, you noble youth.
Good health to you a hundred times,
You're welcome here, in truth!

Though salmon of the Boyne be good,
For you this ode I pen
To sing your praise, on oath I swear,
Upon my soul! Amen!   

Oh you of faultless body smooth,
Sincere your friendship bond!
A friend like you I never had,
May my response be fond.

Did Ireland's nobles judge your worth,
Among three kinds of fish,
O'er pike and salmon you'd be king,
And reign upon a dish!

For Conan of old story lore,
Among the coastland ground
From here to Greece a better dish
Than herring never found.

Oh merry gentle herring friend,
Of Lent the patron saint,
Son of my friend who came last year,
Your absence left me faint!

Though many of your family
Did last year reach my plate,
As clergy's friend you must forbear
To seek revenge or hate!

Oh herring, merry salted one,
Always of cheerful mien,
Your coming gives me purest joy,
I love this happy scene!

From start of penitential Lent
'Til Easter dawn be here,
I drink your health in water plain
And thank you for good cheer.
(Eamon Henry)

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Subject: Kloster Grabow (Rückert)
From: keberoxu
Date: 04 Feb 16 - 07:44 PM

Here is humor in a form which is not identical, but so similar that I felt this thread could give it a home. The poem in this post has an author, however it is an obvious parody of Volkslieder, of folk-song. Actually the composer Carl Loewe set it to music. Had I not flunked blue clicky school, I could provide a link to the video of the Carl Loewe setting: it is for a-cappella men's chorus, the beloved German tradition of the Sing-Verein. Anyway I will get the words posted.
The author is the great Friedrich Rückert.

which means:
The Punishment for Insatiable Gluttony

And every verse, a couplet, is adorned with a repeated line of verse as a kind of chorus. The chorus verse is:
which means:
"They should have been content with what they had!"
Here goes:

Es war der Kloster Grabow im Lande Usedom,
Das nährte Gott vorzeiten aus seine Gnade Strom.

Once upon a time, in the Land of Usedom (actually in the Baltic States I think)
stood the Monastery of the Monks of Grabow;
and in the old days, God nourished the community
directly from the River of His infinite Mercy.

Es schwommen an der Küste, daß es die Nahrung sei
Den Mönchen in dem Kloster, jährlich zwei Fisch' herbei.

There used to swim on the coast, so as to be the nourishment of
All the monks in the Monastery, two fishes every year.

Zwei Störe, groß gewaltig; dabei war das Gesetz,
Daß jährlich sie den einen fiengen davon im Netz.

Two whopping great big sturgeons, and this was God's Law:
Every year the monks would choose JUST ONE of the two fishes
To catch in their nets.

Der andre schwamm von dannen, bis auf das andre Jahr,
Da bracht' er einen neuen Gesellen mit sich dar.

The fish that the monks let go, would swim back where it came from.
Then, the following year, that fish would bring one of its schoolmates along, returning to the monastery.

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 01:14 PM


Da fiengen wieder einen sie sich für ihren Tisch:
Sie fiengen regelmäßig Jahraus Jahrein den Fisch. SIE HÄTTEN SICH...

The next year, again, they would choose just one of the big fishes for the monks' refectory table:
Year upon year, according to the rules, the monks caught a fish, one at a time.   THEY SHOULD HAVE...

Einst kamen zwei so große in einem Jahr herbei;
Schwer ward die Wahl den Mönchen, welcher zu fangen sei? SIE HÄTTEN SICH...   

But one year a pair of fish turned up and both of them were equally enormous.
Honestly! How were the monks supposed to decide, which one to throw back in the water? THEY SHOULD HAVE....

Sie fiengen alle beide; den Lohn ma da erwarb,
Das sich das ganze Kloster den Magen dran verdarb. SIE HÄTTEN SICH....

So, the monks broke the rules, and hauled in BOTH FISH AT ONCE.
After the feast, came their just deserts,
Because the entire monastery came down with severe indigestion
And they all emptied their stomachs of what they had eaten. THEY SHOULD HAVE...

Der Schaden war der kleinste; der größte kam nachher,
Es kam nun gar zum Kloster kein Fisch geschwommen mehr. SIE HÄTTEN SICH...

The humiliation was the least of their punishments; the greatest was yet to come.
Never again did so much as ONE fish swim to the monastery in order to grace the monk's refectory table. THEY SHOULD HAVE....

Sie hat solange gnädig gespeiset Gottes Huld,
Daß sie nun deß sind ledig, ist ihre eigne Schuld.

For so long, the Grace of God had supplied the bounty of their nourishment,
That this privilege was now forfeit, was nobody's fault but theirs.

from Gedichte von Rom und andere Texte der Jahre 1817 - 1818, a new critical edition pp. 19 - 20, author Friedrich Rückert, Wallstein Verlage, 2000

the English translation is keberoxu's fault.

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 07 Feb 16 - 03:22 PM

This thread was started when a search on Mudcat turned up no evidence of this Gaelic song in praise of the herring. I could not imagine why not, at the time. There is an obvious answer: nobody has set this ode to music. Fanciers of Irish verse keep this "dán molta" circulating, by printing it in anthologies. But it isn't words and music as such. So nobody put it up on Mudcat.

You can find this poem, with translations in English, in places like An Duanaire 1600 - 1900: Poems of the Dispossessed, which has been around for a while but is still available in bilingual reprints. The translator in that anthology is the late Thomas Kinsella.   

Who can resist it, though! It is so elegant and classy, and its subject so homely. And kind of forlorn at that: I picture a dinner table with a plate, and the herring lying on the plate staring up at you...

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 10 Feb 16 - 04:43 PM

refresh for Ash Wednesday

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: GUEST,guest keberoxu
Date: 11 Feb 16 - 02:27 PM


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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 05 Mar 16 - 02:21 PM


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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: michaelr
Date: 05 Mar 16 - 03:04 PM

Not a bad job of translating the German, keb, though it must be noted that you managed to use more (and longer) words than the original!

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: Thompson
Date: 05 Mar 16 - 08:43 PM

Fresh herring, yum. Fresh herring with roe, yum yum! Fresh herring with roe rolled in eggy oatmeal and fried with a couple of rashers… (rubs hands, pulls up chair to the table)

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 06 Mar 16 - 02:53 PM

No, the Rückert translation is fast and loose, and I had a wonderful time doing it.

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 21 Mar 16 - 04:52 PM


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Subject: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 04 May 16 - 12:42 PM

The Herrings' Song

author: Lewis Carroll

There be three Badgers on a mossy stone,
Beside a dark and covered way:
Each dreams himself a monarch on his throne,
And so they stay and stay --
Though their old Father languishes alone,
They stay, and stay, and stay.

There be three Herrings loitering around,
Longing to share that mossy seat:
Each Herring tries to sing what she has found
That makes Life seem so sweet.
Thus, with a grating and uncertain sound,
They bleat, and bleat, and bleat.

The Mother-Herring, on the salt sea-wave,
Sought vainly for her absent ones:
The Father-Badger, writhing in a cave,
Shrieked out 'Return, my sons!
You shall have buns,' he shrieked, 'if you'll behave!
Yea, buns, and buns, and buns!'

'I fear,' said she, 'your sons have gone astray?
My daughters left me while I slept.'
'Yes'm,' the Badger said: 'it's as you say.
They should be better kept.'
Thus the poor parents talked the time away,
And wept, and wept, and wept.

The Badgers did not care to talk to Fish:
They did not dote on Herrings' songs:
They never had experienced the dish
To which that name belongs:
'And oh, to pinch their tails' (this was their wish),
'With tongs, yea, tongs, and tongs!'

'And are not these the Fish,' the Eldest sighed,
'Whose Mother dwells beneath the foam?'
'They ARE the Fish!' the Second one replied,
'And they have left their home!'
'Oh wicked Fish,' the youngest Badger cried,
'To roam, yea, roam, and roam!'

Gently the Badgers trotted to the shore --
The sandy shore that fringed the bay:
Each in his mouth a living Herring bore --
Those aged ones waxed gay:
Clear rang their voices through the ocean's roar,
'Hooray, hooray, hooray!'

conclusion of chapter 17: chapter titled 'The Three Badgers'
from Sylvie and Bruno, published 1889

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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 01 Mar 17 - 12:33 PM


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Subject: RE: Lent: the herring
From: keberoxu
Date: 13 Mar 17 - 09:29 AM

and refresh

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