Red, yellow, blue & black knotwork.

I mbrat an bhrollaigh ghil-se
In a cloak, that bright breast of yours

Author: Fearchar Ó Maoilchiaráin

A love poem to a woman named Mór. And yes, that would be my reason for translating it. After years of being the only Maureen I knew, and a sad lack of Maureens in literary works, it is good to find a lady with my name being celebrated! Even if she does have a cloak pin problem.

My verse translation

I mbrat an bhrollaigh ghil-se
ní bhiadh an dealg droighin-se
dá mbeith, a Mhór bhéildearg bhinn,
an éindealg d'ór i nÉirinn. 

San mbrat-sa níor chóir do chur
acht dealg d'fhionndruine uasal,
nó dealg iongantach d'ór cheard,
a Mhór bhionnfhoclach bhéildearg. 

A fholt lag ar lí an ómra,
a chur id bhrat bhreacórdha
a stuaigh chobhsaidh nár chealg fear,*

nior chosmhail dealg don droighean. 

Níor churtha a chnú mo chroidhe,
id bhrat eangach iolbhuidhe,
a ghruaidh dhearg do-ghéabhadh geall,
acht dealg do-ghéanadh Gaibhneann.**

A ghruadh chorcra do char mé,
gan dealg óir acht an uair-se

ar feadh na huaire, a ghlac ghlan,
do bhrat uaine do b'annamh. 

In a cloak, that bright breast of yours--
it should not be the blackthorn brooch;
for you it is, sweet redmouthed Mór,
the one brooch of gold in Éire. 

In your cloak, the proper equipment is
only a brooch of noble finndruinna *
or a wondrous brooch made of gold,
sweetworded redmouthed Mór. 

Oh, soft hair the color of amber,
oh, furrow in the dapplegold cloak,
oh, resolute arch which may never betray a man,*
a brooch of blackthorn is not fitting. 

You should sow, my heart's nut,
in [your] many-yellowed checked cloak
(her red cheeks a hard-run prize)
only a hard-to-make brooch by Goibhniu.** 

Crimson cheek that harrows me,
without a gold pin -- only this hour of mine
for the length of an hour, oh pure hand --
for the green cloak of your soul. 

* finndruinna -- white bronze.

* a stuaigh chobhsaidh nár chealg fear/oh, resolute arch which may never betray a man: "Arch" was originally used as a synonym or flattering term for "hero" or "warrior". But (humorously? or as a reference to a woman's curves?) it later became a term for a beautiful woman. The poet seems to be playing on both meanings.

At this point, I have nothing better to do than tell you that "gruagach" (hairy) also has an interesting range of meanings. Fantasy readers can tell you that it means "goblin", "giant", or "wizard". But in Scottish Gaelic, it is a common word for a beautiful (long-haired) young woman.

** acht dealg do-ghéanadh Gaibhneann./only a hard-to-make brooch by Goibhniu: Goibhniu was one of the smiths of the Tuatha Dé Danaan; his Welsh cognate is Govannon. They both struck a grievous blow that killed their nephews (Goibhniu killed Ruadan, Bres & Brigid's son; and according to the triads, Govannon killed Arianrhod's son Dylan ap Ton). 

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