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Tomas an Buile

19 Jul 99 - 05:00 PM (#97004)
From: Philippa

translated from the Irish by James Stephens

I saw God. Do you doubt it?
Do you dare to doubt it?
I saw the Almighty Man. His hand
Was resting on a mountain, and
He looked upon the World and all about it;
I saw him plainer than you see me now,
You mustn't doubt it.

He was not satisfied;
His look was all dissatisfied.
His beard swung on a wind far out of sight
Behind the world's curve, and there was light
Most fearful from His forehead, and He sighed,
"That star went always wrong, and from the start
I was dissatisfied."

He lifted up his hand
I say he weaved a dreadful hand
Over the spinning Earth. Then I said, "Stay,
You must not strike it, God; I'm in the way
And I will never move from where I stand."
He said, Dear Child, I feared that you were dead."
And stayed his hand.

If you want to know what inspired me to post this poem at Mudcat, look for "God's" contribution to the Little Armalite thread. I believe the original poem was written in the 17th century by Dáibhidh O Bruadair; I'd like to have the Irish (Gaelic) verses as well as Stephen's translation.

19 Jul 99 - 05:29 PM (#97025)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: katlaughing

Thank you, Phillipa. Quite profound.


01 Nov 99 - 02:40 PM (#130520)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Philippa

Now that a few more Irish speakers and learners are frequenting the Mudcat forum, I ask again for information on the original version of this poem.

01 Nov 99 - 08:03 PM (#130663)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: McGrath of Harlow

Try this page for a start, Philippa:


See, I do it in clicky and in DIY, in case I get the clicky wrong, which I generally do.

But I wish that the magic Babelfish translate button would add Irish to the languages it deals with. And Latin.

02 Nov 99 - 01:43 AM (#130768)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile

While the link McGrath gives is of general interest, it is not helpful in dealing with this specific enquiry.

02 Nov 99 - 11:49 AM (#130899)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Mían

I wrote a query about this to someone who just told me he has posted it to Good God, who knows what will happen now! :-)

02 Nov 99 - 02:26 PM (#130942)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Mían

Phillipa, i found a gent who did a paper on the poet. he sent me his paper via e-m. I can send it to you if you like. In looking hastily over it, it does not contain the poem in Irish, but has an extensive bibliography. I have written again to ask if he has seen this poem as Gaeilge. My e-m address is

02 Nov 99 - 03:33 PM (#130966)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Áine

Dear Mian,

I would be interested in seeing any historical information you have. Why don't you put some of it on this thread? If you are able to acquire the poem in Irish, I hope that you'll share it with us; Philippa has peaked my interest in this poem!

Le meas, Áine

02 Nov 99 - 04:22 PM (#130985)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Mían

Here is a small selection -I think it would be better to e-mail to those who are interested. It is a paper with references written in html. the numbers in the paragraph below refer to the bibliography.

Dáibhí Ó Bruadair: the metamorphosis of a poet


Born between 1625 and 1630 in County Cork, Ó Bruadair was trained in a classical 'liberal education' style, including study of Greek and Roman mythology and legend.[16] His principal source for Irish history was Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, by Seathrún Céitinn, known to the English-speaking world as A History of Ireland, by Geoffrey Keating. Ó Bruadair's respect for him can be seen in his poem 'Love of Sages,' a tribute to Keating, in which he praises 'Geoffrey Keating, whose code above all others I extol.'[17] Mac Erlean writes that Ó Bruadair's 'poems form a running commentary upon all the principal political processes of his day.'[18]

[15]A much more complete version of this can be found in Mac Erlean, Duanaire, part I, in the introduction, as noted above. As this is the fullest source available, as well as the only readily available source, I have relied upon it for facts regarding the Ó Bruadair's life.
[16]Mac Erlean, Duanaire, part I, xix and xxi.
[17]'Love of Sages' (written 1682) in Rev. John C. Mac Erlean, S.J. (ed. and trans.),Duanaire Dhaibhibh Uí Bhruadair, part II; Irish Texts Society, vol. xiii (London, 1913),264-287. Quote in text from rann II, lines 1 and 2.
[18]Mac Erlean, part I, xlviii.

Citing this paper

This paper is copyright (c) James Jeffrey Inglis 1994

This paper is free for all to read. You are more than welcome, as well, to refer to it in work of your own; remember, however, that this work is mine. When doing your own work, you must remember to respect the intellectual property of others. There is a lack of standardization of citation of sources available on the Internet.

If you cite this work as

Inglis, James Jeffrey, "Dáibhí Ó Bruadair:
the metamorphosis of a poet," electronically
available at history/papers/dobpoems.html or via Email
from, Middlebury, Vermont, 1994.

you will have followed the author's instructions regarding citation of his work, and will not be in violation of copyright regulations. If you have any questions or comments regarding this paper or my policy on citation, please contact me at

02 Nov 99 - 05:43 PM (#131007)
Subject: Lyr Add: NACH AIT AN NÓS (Dáibhidh Ó Bruadair)
From: Philippa

thank you, keep trying

NACH AIT AN NÓS -Dáibhidh Ó Bruadair (17ú c)

Nach ait an nós ar mórchuid d'fhearaibh Éireann,
d'at go nó le mórtas maingiléiseach!
Cé tais a dtreoir ar chódaibh Galla-chléire,
Ní chanaid glór ach gósta garbh-Bhéarla.

'Tis odd the way so many men of Erin
Swell and strut with so much ostentation
and go about affecting foreign manners
Instead of Irish, speaking garbled English

02 Nov 99 - 07:14 PM (#131068)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Mían

Found on the Library of Congress website:

LC Control Number: 86119113

LC Control Number: 86119113

Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)

Personal Name: O Bruadair, Dáibhí, ca. 1625-1698.

Main Title: O Bruadair : selected poems of Dáibhí O Bruadair /

translated and introduced by Michael Hartnett.

Uniform Title: [Poems. English. Selections

Published/Created: Dublin, Ireland : Gallery Press, c1985.

Related Names: Hartnett, Michael, 1941-

Description: 53 p. ; 23 cm.

ISBN: 0904011917 :

0904011909 (pbk.) :

Subjects: O Bruadair, Dáibhí, ca. 1625-1698 --Translations into English.


Series: Gallery books

LC Classification: PB1398.O24 A6 1985

03 Nov 99 - 10:32 AM (#131280)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Philippa

A more extensive collection would be the volumes of: "Duanaire Dháibhidh Uí Bhruadair I - III" (McErlean, J.C., ed.). Cumann na Scríbheann nGaedhilge/Irish Texts Society (ITS), 1910 - 1917.
If and when I ever have a day to spend at the library of the University of Ulster, Coleraine, I might be able to look through these books. (I'd start with the smaller one recomended by Mían). But I don't know why I THINK Ó Bruadair is the authot of the original Tomás an Buile. And James Stephen's "Collected Poems" are also held at UU, Coleraine.

03 Nov 99 - 11:20 AM (#131297)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Mían

Some of the Irish Text Society's volumes are also here at the San Francisco Main Library. If I get a minute to pop over, I shall check to see if those volumes are there. I'll check at the Irish Cultural Center library as well.

21 Nov 99 - 10:24 AM (#139143)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Philippa

I did get a chance to look up Hartnett's book. Alas, he only includes his English translations; O Bruadair's originals aare not printed alongside. None of the poems in that small volume resembles the poem of Tomás an Buile. I haven't been able to look at the larger volumes nor at James Stephen's "Collected Poems". I wouldn't expect the latter to include the Irish language original, but it might credit the original author and/or give the century the Irish -language poem was written. On the other hand, the Stephens book might just say "translated from the Irish"! I still haven't remembered or figured out why I thought it was a translation from O Bruadair.

02 Dec 99 - 11:56 AM (#143676)
Subject: What Tomas Said in a Pub
From: Philippa

In Devin Garrity, ed. "The Mentor Book of Irish Poetry", 1965, the poem is titled simply "What Tomas Said in a Pub". The poem is not attributed to anyone else apart from James Stephens. I checked some poems which I knew to be translations from the Irish, such as "Pearl of the White Breast" (George Petrie translation of 18th century song) and "The Old Woman of Beare" (Frank O'Connor translation from 8th century Irish) - those were attributed, but the Stephens' poem was not. It was from a Liam Clancy album cover that I originally got the information that "What Tomás an Buile Said in a Pub" was a translation. still seeking further details...

03 Dec 99 - 04:30 AM (#144051)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Martin Ryan

While the Gaelgoiri are active on this thread - can anyone recommend OCR software for reading modern Irish, please?


03 Dec 99 - 10:25 AM (#144122)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Mían

re: software for reading Irish, try

and if you don't find it on the web site, e-mail Caoimhín Micheal who works there and ask him

03 Dec 99 - 10:43 AM (#144131)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Martin _Ryan



03 Dec 99 - 11:17 AM (#144156)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: Áine


If you find an OCR program that works, please, please, let us know about it and where to get it!

Thank you, Mian, for the information!

-- Áine

03 Dec 99 - 01:31 PM (#144224)
Subject: Lyr Add: O BRUADAIR (English by James Stephens)
From: Philippa

James Stephens did translate and adapt several poems from Irish to English. The mention of a 'pub' in the title of "What Tomás an Buile Said in a Pub" indicates to me that either the poem isn't very old in origin or that Stephens took liberties in his adaptation. I'm still working on the theory that it does derive from an Irish language poem.

It's very likely that I remebered the O Bruadair donnection incorrectly. Stephens' poem "O Bruadair" is stated in McDonagh and Robinson, "The Oxford Book of Irish Verse", to be "From the Irish of O Bruadair". I don't know the Irish language original for this poem either:

O BRUADAIR (James Stephens after the Irish of D. Ó Bruadair)"O Bruadair"

I will sing no more songs: the pride of my country I sang
Through forty long years of good rhyme, without any avail;
And no one cared even as much as half of a hang
For the song or the singer, so here is the end of the tale.

If a person should think I complain and have not got the cause,
Let him bring his eyes here and take a good look at my hand,
Let him say if a goose-quill has calloused this poor pair of paws
Or the spade that I grip on and dig with out there in the land?

When the great ones were safe and renowned and were rooted and tough,
Though my mind went to them and took joy in the fortune of those,
#And the pride in their pride and their fame, they gave little enough,
Not as much as two boots for my feet, or an old suit of clothes.

I ask of the Craftsman that fashioned the fly and the bird,
Of the Champion whose passion will lift me from death in a time,
Of the Spirit that melts icy hearts with the wind of a word,
Tha my people be worthy and get better singing than mine.

I had hoped to live decent, when Ireland was quit of her care,
As a bailiff or steward perhaps in a house of degree,
But the end of the tale is, old brogues and old britches to wear,
So I'll sing no more songs for the men that care nothing for me.

26 Feb 00 - 05:16 AM (#185216)
Subject: RE: Tomás an Buile
From: GUEST,Philippa

I put a message on the bulletin board at Liam Clancy's website. Liam replied. He doesn't actually have any information that the poem is a translation, he just thought it would be derived from the Irish language as were so many of James Stephens' works.

Oh well, you've been introduced to this wonderful poem - and to the work of Ó Bruadair as a bonus.