Diarmuid Johnson
Dj 02 0411
Read four poems, two in English, two in Irish, by Diarmuid Johnson below.
Diarmuid Johnson was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1965. He moved to Ireland aged three and was educated in Galway. From 1989 until 1996 he lectured in Celtic languages and literature in France, Germany and Ireland. Since 1997 he has worked predominantly as a freelance writer, translator and editor, both in print and in television, through the media of Irish, English and Welsh. He was editor of Cuisle, the national Irish language monthly, from 1999-2000. Among the prizes he has been awarded is the Dún Laoghaire International Poetry Festival Prize (2000). His work has been published in An Chéad Chló (First Flush) (Cló Iar-Chonnacht, 1997), and Fearann Pinn (The Pencil Acre) (ed. Ó Dúill, Coiscéim, 2000), a selection of 20th cen. Irish verse. In 1994, together with Jean-CLaude Lozac'hmeur, he published Dafydd ap Gwilym, petite anthologie d'un grand poète (WODAN, Amiens 1994), a selection in French of an important 14th cen. Welsh poet. Súil Saoir (The Trained Eye), a selection of poems in Irish, is forthcoming from Cló Iar-Chonnachta. Coinnigh do Mhisneach, a translation of Shoned Wyn Jones novel Yfory Ddaw (Come Tomorrow) was published this year (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2004). Diarmuid Johnson is editor of Transcript, and is a member of the Welsh Literature Abroad (WLA) team.

1. English

English is the language of war
Its constituents are civilian hostages
In dim cells, adjectives are beaten senseless.

English is the language of war
The dissident lexicon has been deported
Semanticide has devastated
A continent of thought.

English is the language of war
We cannot say what we mean any more.

In English there are words
For all things which cast a shadow:
Do not translate these words.

English is the language of war:
Do not speak it.

3. Siobhán Fhada

Siobhán fhada
Éan an chladaigh
Súile grinne
Píobán réidh.

Siobhán fhada
Éan an chladaigh
Suim i dtada
Ach breac strae.

Siobhán fhada
Uasal, balbh
Bean ar leathchois
Fuinseog éin.

2. Irish

We speak another language
Time has made it smooth
As the river makes the stone smooth.
It is a language teeming with light
But the light pales
The words become wooden
When translated
Because the river will flow
In one bed only
The light will teem
Only in droplets
From a single source.
We speak another language
And when we speak
Skylarks fly off the tongue
The sounds are purple berries
'Abhainn', 'solas'
The words represent things -
'River' 'light' -
As words will
But their meaning is a journey
To a continent rich in harbourage
And when we sing them
The boats race homeward
On a quick tide.

4. An Bhó

Beithíoch ceansaithe is ea an bhó
Rud bómánta, díbheo.

Canglaíonn sí an chíor go balbh
Sceitheann bualtrach.

Saol gan bhuarach
Ní heol sin don bhó
Ní cuimhin léi an uair
Nach raibh claí sa tír ná cró
Múchadh an alltacht ina seanchroí fadó.

An bhó mhór mhall
Níl inti ach úth
Níl de dhúchas inti ach an dáir
Níl d'urlabhra aici ach an ghéim chráite.

Rud meirbh marbhánta
Sin agaibh an bhó.

Maireann sí go monarchanda
Ag síorchur na súl
Thar bhuaile amach.

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