POETRY: Crossroads

Ireland during the Civil War, 1922–23
by Úna Ní Fhaircheallaigh (1874–1957)
Translated from the Irish by Gabriel Rosenstock

How mysterious, this road ahead,
Behind me, a road of desolation.
Roads to the left and the right of me—
Whither now, Lord of Creation?

My feet can hardly carry me,
Empty hands, my loss immense!
A heart turned into a block of granite
Looking back . . . what’s the sense?

Looking back on a twisted path
Of strewn bodies—unspeakable sorrow:
Souls—their light sucked out, their shimmer,
The price we have paid has carved us hollow.

On the way the vision perished,
There was nothing, nothing I could see,
My guiding light became enveloped
In a fog of misery.

What to me the world’s wealth
All its comforts, all its power?
Let it melt before my eyes,
Oh to live again that hour!

To live that hour a final time
And Ireland to be young once more,
I’d gladly venture out again
And walk the same path as before.

Where is that path? Oh merciful God
To the left or to the right?
I turn my face to the sun, to You
That we may face the wind’s might.

■ More information on Úna Ní Fhaircheallaigh (Uan Uladh) is available on ainm.ie.

■ A recent title from Gabriel Rosenstock: Daybreak: Poem-Prayers for Prisoners (New York: Cross-Cultural Communications, New York, in association with Smashwords.