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mysterious verse in 'early' Irish

keberoxu 04 Sep 16 - 07:30 PM
Jack Campin 04 Sep 16 - 07:40 PM
leeneia 04 Sep 16 - 07:48 PM
Jack Campin 04 Sep 16 - 08:35 PM
GUEST 04 Sep 16 - 09:10 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 04 Sep 16 - 10:04 PM
Jack Campin 05 Sep 16 - 04:55 AM
Mysha 05 Sep 16 - 04:42 PM
Jack Campin 05 Sep 16 - 06:03 PM
keberoxu 05 Sep 16 - 06:26 PM
peregrina 05 Sep 16 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 05 Sep 16 - 10:26 PM
peregrina 06 Sep 16 - 01:59 AM
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Subject: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: keberoxu
Date: 04 Sep 16 - 07:30 PM

This is yet another of those poems that was preserved in monastic manuscripts. It is a brief one.

Ron-bris
Ron-brúi
Ron-báid
a Rí in ríchid rindglaine

Ron-geilt in gáeth feib geiles
nemáed forderg fidnaige

This verse caught the attention of those German-born philologists who specialized in Gaelic during the 1800's and laid an academic foundation for the students of older forms of Gaelic who followed them, amongst others Dr. Kuno Meyer. Naturally a German translation was the result. This is the best I can make out of the German translation.

We have been broken
We have been crushed
We have been drowned
O King of the kingdom bright as the stars

We have been consumed by the wind
as is consumed
kindling
by the crimson fire of lightning from the sky

What seems to have happened, is that when Gaelic was taught long ago, this little verse was taken out of whatever context/origin, and isolated for study in a Glossary. This Glossary is itself centuries old, and the entire student's Glossary, in the old Gaelic, is embedded in later manuscripts. Thus the verse was preserved until the 19th-century philologists and linguists could uncover it.

The mystery of course is where this might have come from in the first place; and I rather fear it will never be known. What are the odds of discovering this archaic Irish verse, not isolated for analysis in a Glossary, but within some larger literary work that would provide context? Will we ever know what this verse is about?

In English translation (different from the above) this has been set to music by Samuel Barber in the 20th century, in his Hermit Songs.


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Sep 16 - 07:40 PM

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni?


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: leeneia
Date: 04 Sep 16 - 07:48 PM

What is it about? It's probably about a settlement (village, monastery, farm) that's been brutally attacked. People have been killed and buildings burned. The survivors are left to freeze in the cold winds.

The King of the kingdom is God or Jesus.

Very moving. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Sep 16 - 08:35 PM

I doubt it.   Irish literature didn't go in for such direct statement.

I suspect it's a riddle. It's not John Barleycorn either, though the first three lines mislead you in that direction.


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Sep 16 - 09:10 PM

And here's me with no Latin.

A riddle! I wonder.


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 04 Sep 16 - 10:04 PM

for what it's worth:
there has been some twentieth-century commentary, also, on this verse in particular, and on the glossary that it comes from.

Éoin MacNeill, for one, considered the glossary in the journal
"Ériu."
There is an English translation titled "The High Wind."
There is another English translation titled "Sea-Snatch," which I suppose hinges on that word that means "drowned"; it's just a little far-fetched in my opinion that this is about being on a boat, when the emphasis is more on wind than water: it could be argued either way I suppose.

Trinity College, Dublin, has a copy of one manuscript in which the glossary, and the little verse, are preserved. This manuscript is named the Yellow Book of Lecan, and the glossary part bears the Latin title,
"de origine Scotiae linguae" although most of it is in Gaelic. This verse is NOT marginalia, as some manuscript verses are, but can be found right in the manuscript columns.


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Sep 16 - 04:55 AM

"In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni" is a palindrome - "we go about in circles at night and are consumed by fire".


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: Mysha
Date: 05 Sep 16 - 04:42 PM

Can we have the German as well?

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Sep 16 - 06:03 PM

The point is that the Latin and Irish phrases are from the same era and express a similar idea. So it is possible they may have a common origin.


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: keberoxu
Date: 05 Sep 16 - 06:26 PM

auf deutsch:

Es hat uns gebrochen
Es hat uns zermalmt
Es hat uns ertränkt
O Himmelskönig des Sternenglanzes

Der Sturm hat uns verzehrt
wie tiefrotes Himmelsfeuer
Holzwerk verzehrt


Also for what it's worth, the little Gaelic verse has been written out with an ever-so-slight difference here:


Ro 'n-bris
Ro 'n-brui
Ro 'n-baid
a Rí richid rindglaine

Ro 'n-geilt in gáeth feib geiles
Nem-áed forderg fidnaige

The latter is from the Irisleabhar Ceilteach circa 1952.

The German, however, comes from the:
Sitzungsberichte der preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1914.


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: peregrina
Date: 05 Sep 16 - 06:31 PM

Old Irish not Gaelic, no?

And is this is Roscada, ie an archaic section transmitted in a slightly less ancient text?


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 05 Sep 16 - 10:26 PM

Guilty as charged, peregrina, in that I am too ignorant to make that distinction. I submit this verse, not because I have the answers, but to submit the questions.

Mr. Campin, it is news to me that the Latin and the Irish are contemporary -- you know more than I do.


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Subject: RE: mysterious verse in 'early' Irish
From: peregrina
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 01:59 AM

The Yellow Book of Lecan is a late medieval Irish manuscript; this verse, however, is much eariler. (Most Old Irish verse is transmitted in manuscripts that postdate at least some of their contents by centuries.) The latin title here is younger than the verse and might be contemporary with the compilation and copying of the book of Lecan (because titles tend to be fluid.) The Irish here looks like a fragment of a poem, or perhaps Roscada, embedded in a longer text; and the fragment was, as keberoxu explained, removed from its context.


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