Ireland's Immortals - Deepstash
Ireland's Immortals

Ireland's Immortals

Mark Williams

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The Voyage of Bran

One of the most famous poems in all Irish literature:

Bran thinks it a wondrous beauty

in his coracle over the clear sea;

as for me, in my chariot from afar,

it is a flowery plain around which he drives.

What is clear sea

for the prowed ship in which Bran is,

is a pleasant plain with an abundance of flowers

for me in a two-wheeled chariot.

Bran sees

many waves breaking over the clear sea;

I myself see in Mag Mon [‘the plain of sports’]

red-topped flowers without flaw.

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The Voyage of Bran

Sea-horses [i.e. waves] glisten in summer

as far as Bran has stretched the glances of his eye;

flowers pour forth a stream of honey

in the land of Manannán son of Lir.

The colour of the ocean on which you are,

the bright colour of the sea on which you row:

it has spread out gold and blue-green;

it is solid land.

Speckled salmon leap out of it, from the womb,

from the white sea on which you look;

they are calves, they are lovely-coloured lambs

at peace, without mutual slaying.

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Two Different Ways of Knowing

The passage quoted above is more than merely beautiful: commentators have universally felt that this speech, and ‘The Voyage of Bran’ as a whole, is in some way intricately thought. This sequence can be read as contrasting two different ways of knowing: Bran perceives one version of the world—superficial and tied to time—where Manannán perceives quite another, and with a degree of insight deeper, truer, and keyed to eternity.

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CURATED BY

CURATOR'S NOTE

Poetry is my passion

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