“Sibhse ghabhas tríomsa, cuiridh uaibh gach dóchas” – Dante’s Divine Comedy as Gaeilge

“Sibhse ghabhas tríomsa, cuiridh uaibh gach dóchas” – Dante’s Divine Comedy as Gaeilge

Recently I acquired a copy of Padráig de Brún’s translation into Irish of “Inferno”. de Brún translated the whole Divine Comedy. The fly jacket of my copy states that “it is hoped to publish the remaining two volumes … in the future”

My thanks to Seán Mac Labhrai for getting me this book. de Brún was one of those polymathic clergymen who are now oft-forgotten. Born in Grangemockler, Co Tipperary, near the Kilkenny border and a place I drive through every day on the way to work, de Brún also wrote the well known poem “Tháinig long ó Valparaiso” (or rather translated Oliver St John Gogarty’s “The Ship”, a translation which improved on the original), known to to generations of Irish school children. Or at least it was known.

Anyhow, while had I world enough and time typing out Monsignor de Brún’s translation canto by canto would be a pleasure, it may not be possible. So I will give a taster which includes the best known line of the Inferno, if not the whole Comedy – abandon all hope ye who enter here.

This comes at the beginning of Canto 3 – a sort of invocation inscribed on the entrance to the “città dolente” of the underworld. In the original, the lines are :

Per me si va ne la città dolente,
per me si va ne l’etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.

Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore;
fecemi la divina podestate,
la somma sapïenza e ’l primo amore.

Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate’.

de Brún:

“Is tríom a trialltar ar an gcathair mhairgneach
Is tríom a trialltar ar an dólás síoraí
Is tríom a trialltar ar an gcine damanta.

An Ceart a chuir mo Dhúileamh tréan ag gníomhú;
Do rinne an tAthair mór lena uile-chomhact mé
‘S an Eagna is aoirde réim is toil an Phríomh-ghrá.

Éinní dár cruthaíodh riamh ní raibh ann romhamsa
Ach rudaí síorai; is buan go síoraíocht siar mé:
Síbhse ghabgas tríoma, cuiridh uaibh gach dóchas”

From the Columbia Digital Dante page linked to above, here are the English translations, firstly of Mandelbaum:

THROUGH ME THE WAY INTO THE SUFFERING CITY,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL PAIN,
THROUGH ME THE WAY THAT RUNS AMONG THE LOST.

JUSTICE URGED ON MY HIGH ARTIFICER;
MY MAKER WAS DIVINE AUTHORITY,
THE HIGHEST WISDOM, AND THE PRIMAL LOVE.

BEFORE ME NOTHING BUT ETERNAL THINGS
WERE MADE, AND I ENDURE ETERNALLY.
ABANDON EVERY HOPE, WHO ENTER HERE.

and of Longfellow:

THROUGH me the way is to the city dolent;
Through me the way is to eternal dole;
Through me the way among the people lost.

Justice incited my sublime Creator;
Created me divine Omnipotence,
The highest Wisdom and the primal Love.

Before me there were no created things,’03
Only eterne, and I eternal last.
All hope abandon, ye who enter in !”

Rather poignantly, my copy is ex libris St Malachy’s College Library, 36 Antrim Road, Belfast and seems never to have been taken out :

Finally an amusing aside from this 2016 review by Tim Parks of a life of Dante
. After the article proper, we have these two letters:

Letters
Vol. 38 No. 15 · 28 July 2016

Tim Parks begins his piece on Dante by asking how the Divine Comedy would have fared these days, when if you ‘put real people in a work of fiction … you immediately face libel and privacy issues’ (LRB, 14 July). That reminded me of the time when in a pleasant Chester-le-Street bookshop (no longer in existence) I was offered a paperback translation of Inferno which assured me that it was a work of fiction containing no reference to actual persons living or dead. Some time later I bought Ciaran Carson’s translation of Inferno on the basis of a killer sales pitch that it was ‘the first ever version by an Irish poet’.

George Schlesinger
Durham

Vol. 38 No. 17 · 8 September 2016

George Schlesinger fell for an over enthusiastic sales pitch (Letters, 28 July). Ciaran Carson’s translation of Dante’s Inferno wasn’t ‘the first ever version by an Irish poet’. The Irish cleric and poet Henry Boyd published his version in 1785 (and then added the Purgatorio and the Paradiso some years later).

Peter Jackson
Oxford

Of course, between Boyd and Carson, there was de Brún.

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Henri Nouwen on the powerlessness of God

From “Bread For the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith”, Henri Nouwen:

In and through Jesus we come to know God as a powerless God, who becomes dependent on us. But it is precisely in this powerlessness that God’s power reveals itself. This is not the power that controls, dictates, and commands. It is the power that heals, reconciles, and unites. It is the power of the Spirit. When Jesus appeared people wanted to be close to him and touch him because “power came out of him” (Luke 6:19). It is this power of the divine Spirit that Jesus wants to give us. The Spirit indeed empowers us and allows us to be healing presences. When we are filled with that Spirit, we cannot be other than healers.

St Carthage and the miracle of the ever flowing barrel of beer

“Bóthar na Naomh and the Black Lane: Roadway of the Saints” is a booklet produced by the Whitechurch Historial Group. It describes itself as a “map and compendium” completed “to explore the historical routes Bóthar Na Naomh, and the Black Lane, and extend to include various interesting historical sites which lay between Lismore and Dungarvan.”These routes are associated with St Declan’s Way, from Ardmore (where St Declan brought Christianity before St Patrick did) to Cashel (last year, with some friends, I did this backwards from Cashel to The Vee)

Anyway, the booklet has much of great interest, but I was naturally most struck by this passage featuring the founder of Lismore, St Carthage:

At this location in Kilcloher it is regarded as being the site where St Carthage produced his miracle, whereby, the hosts of Carthage and his travelling monks were unable to provide much hospitality due their limited resources to this large group of unexpected visitors who came to stay; as they had only a few loaves of bread, fish and a barrell of beer. But, Carthage with this Barrel of Beer, performed the miracle of the ever flowing barrel of beer for the duration of the monks stay at Kilcloher church and onastic settlement, and after a few days of rest and reparation, the monks with St Carthage continued down the Bóthar Na Naomh towards their destination of Lios Mhór (Roundhill), following the encouragement from the Kilcloher monks.

from “Small, Silent, Still” – Fr Paul D Scalia

Full piece here. An interesting interview with Fr Scalia – son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – here

 We require that God be as we want Him: big, loud, efficient. Big and obvious, so that we can see Him and not have to walk by faith. Loud, so that we can hear Him and not be taxed by silence.  Efficient, lest we have to endure any waiting.  Our worship and culture follow suit.  Indeed, few things are more obvious than our culture’s addiction to spectacles, noise, and instant gratification.

In contrast, our Lord gives us two parables about the Kingdom of God: the seed sown in the ground and the mustard seed. (Mk 4:26-34)  These hit us where we live.  They require us to detach from the big, loud, and efficient and to accustom ourselves to the hidden, silent, and slow.

The Kingdom has, first, a silent and hidden growth.  It is like that seed scattered on the land that sprouts and grows of its own accord, and the sower knows not how.  The growth is unheard and unseen, beyond our reach and control.  It requires faith that He is indeed at work and trust that, in Romano Guardini’s words, “The silent forces are the strong forces.”

This Kingdom grows at its own pace, not the sower’s.  It calls for patience.  We cannot command it or set its schedule.  Indeed, our schedule must yield to its pace.  Further, the Kingdom is small – like that smallest of seeds that when sown, “springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”  We prefer something more certain, something big and clearly powerful.  But here we must trust in the fruitfulness of what appears entirely insufficient.

 

“I Heard My Father Call My Name”

From Susan J Stabile’s blog, a reflection on what I would also have called “the finding of Jesus in the Temple”:

 

In the typical translation, Jesus response to his parents’ when they tell him they have been looking for him with great anxiety is “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Louis Savary, in his book The New Spiritual Exercises, offers a different translation.  Savary reports that among the Aramaic- speaking people in Palestine, the phrase Jesus used would more accurately have been understood as “I heard my Father call my name, and how could I not respond.”

 

 

“I heard my father call my name” … I do wonder if Margaret Craven was aware of this when she called her novel of an Anglican priest’s life and death among the First Peoples of remote British Columbia “I Heard the Owl Call My Name”?

i heard the owl call my name margaret craven 001

Creo en Dios!

Today’s Gospel is the familiar passage in Luke that we often refer to as Finding Jesus in the Temple.  Twelve-year old Jesus and his family have been in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  When the group from Nazareth begins to return home, Jesus is not among them.  When Mary and Joseph retrace their steps, the ultimately find him in the temple with the teachers.

In the typical translation, Jesus response to his parents’ when they tell him they have been looking for him with great anxiety is “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Louis Savary, in his book The New Spiritual Exercises, offers a different translation.  Savary reports that among the Aramaic- speaking people in Palestine, the phrase Jesus used would more accurately have been understood as “I heard my Father call my name, and how could I not respond.”   Savary goes on…

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Learning How To See Again, Josef Pieper

Learning How To See Again, Josef Pieper

LEARNING HOW TO SEE AGAIN
By Josef Pieper (translated by Lothar Krauk)

from Only The Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation 

 

Man’s ability to see is in decline. Those who nowadays concern

themselves with culture and education will experience this fact again and
again. We do not mean here, of course, the physiological
sensitivity of the human eye. We mean
the spiritual capacity to perceive the visible reality
as it truly is.
To be sure, no human being has ever really seen
everything that lies visibly in front of his eyes.
The world, including its tangible side, is unfathomable.
Who. would ever have perfectly perceived
the countless shapes and shades of just one

wave swelling and ebbing in the ocean! And yet,
there are degrees of perception. Going below a
certain bottom line quite obviously will endanger
the integrity of man as a spiritual being. It seems
that nowadays we have arrived at this bottom
line.
I am writing this on my return from Canada,
aboard a ship sailing from New York to Rotterdam.
Most of the other passengers have spent
quite some time in the United States, many for
one reason only: to visit and see the New World
with their own eyes. With their own eyes: in this lies
the difficulty.

During the various conversations on deck and
at the dinner table I am always amazed at hearing
almost without exception rather generalized statements
and pronouncements that are plainly the
common fare of travel guides. It turns out that
hardly anybody has noticed those frequent small
signs in the streets of New York that indicate
public fallout shelters. And visiting New York
University, who would have noticed those stonehewn
chess tables in front of it, placed in Washington
Square by a caring city administration for
the Italian chess enthusiasts of that area?!
Or again, at table I had mentioned those magnificent
fluorescent sea creatures whirled up to the
surface by the hundreds in our ship’s bow wake.
The next day it was casually mentioned that “last
night there was nothing to be seen”. Indeed, for
nobody had the patience to let the eyes adapt to
the darkness. To repeat, then: man’s ability to see
is in decline.
Searching for the reasons, we could point to
various things: modern man’s restlessness and
stress, quite sufficiently denounced by now, or his
total absorption and enslavement by practical
goals and purposes. Yet one reason must not be
overlooked either: the average person of our time
loses the ability to see because there is too much to
see!

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There does exist something like “visual noise”,
which just like the acoustical counterpart, makes
clear perception impossible. One might perhaps
presume that TV watchers, tabloid readers, and
movie goers exercise and sharpen their eyes. But
the opposite is true. The ancient sages knew exactly
why they called the “concupiscence of the
eyes” a “destroyer”. The restoration of man’s inner
eyes can hardly be expected in this day and
age-unless, first of all, one were willing and determined
simply to exclude from one’s realm of
life all those inane and contrived but titillating illusions
incessantly generated by the entertainment
industry.

You may argue, perhaps: true, our capacity to
see has diminished, but such loss is merely the
price all higher cultures have to pay. We have lost,
no doubt, the American Indian’s keen sense of
smell, but we also no longer need it since we have
binoculars, compass, and radar. Let me repeat: in
this obviously continuing process there exists a
limit below which human nature itself is threatened,
and the very integrity of human existence is
directly endangered. Therefore, such ultimate
danger can no longer be averted with technology
alone. At stake here is this: How can man be saved
from becoming a totally passive consumer of
mass-produced goods and a subservient follower
beholden to every slogan the managers may proclaim?
The question really is: How can man preserve
and safeguard the foundation of his spiritual
dimension and an uncorrupted relationship to reality?

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The capacity to perceive the visible world
“with our own eyes” is indeed an essential constituent
of human nature. We are talking here about
man’s essential inner richness-or, should the
threat prevail, man’s most abject inner poverty.
And why so? To see things is the first step toward
that primordial and basic mental grasping of reality,
which constitutes the essence of man as a spiritual
being.
I am well aware that there are realities we can
come to know through “hearing” alone. All the
same, it remains a fact that only through seeing,
indeed through seeing with our own eyes, is our
inner autonomy established. Those no longer able
to see reality with their own eyes are equally unable
to hear correctly. It is specifically the man
thus impoverished who inevitably falls prey to the
demagogical spells of any powers that be. “Inevitably”,
because such a person is utterly deprived
even of the potential to keep a critical distance
(and here we recognize the direct political relevance
of our topic).

The diagnosis is indispensable yet only a first
step. What, then, may be proposed; what can be
done?
We already mentioned simple abstention, a regimen
of fasting and abstinence, by which we
would try to keep the visual noise of daily inanities
at a distance. Such an approach seems to me
indeed an indispensable first step but, all the same,
no more than the removal, say, of a roadblock.
A better and more immediately effective remedy
is this: to be active oneself in artistic creation, producing
shapes and forms for the eye to see.
Nobody has to observe and study the visible
mystery of a human face more than the one who
sets out to sculpt it in a tangible medium. And this
holds true not only for a manually formed image.
The verbal “image” as well can thrive only when
it springs from a higher level of visual perception.
We sense the intensity of observation required
simply to say, “The girl’s eyes were gleaming like
wet currants” (Tolstoy).
Before you can express anything in tangible
form, you first need eyes to see. The mere attempt,
therefore, to create an artistic form compels
the artist to take a fresh look at the visible
reality; it requires authentic and personal observation.
Long before a creation is completed, the artO
ist has gained for himself another and more intimate
achievement: a deeper and more receptive
vision, a more intense awareness, a sharper and
more discerning understanding, a more patient
openness for all things quiet and inconspicuous,
an eye for things previously overlooked. In short:
the artist will be able to perceive with new eyes the
abundant wealth of all visible reality, and, thus
challenged, additionally acquires the inner capacity
to absorb into his mind such an exceedingly
rich harvest. The capacity to see increases.