Irish language poet Martin O’Direain was born on the Aran Islands in 1910. He spoke Irish only, until his mid-teens then joined the postal service in Galway before transferring to Dublin in 1938, where he worked in the civil service until 1975. In 2010, An Post issued a single stamp to commemorate the birth centenary of Ó Direáin, featuring a portrait of the poet. His poems, most of which were inspired by life on Aran, were all written in Irish, but many have been translated into English, like this one:
By Martin O’Direain
(translated from the Irish by Patrick Crotty)
Stand your ground, soul:
Hold fast to everything that’s rooted,
And don’t react like some pubescent boy
When your friends let you down.
Often you’ve seen a redshank
Lonely on a wet rock;
If he won no spoil from the wave
That was no cause for complaint.
You brought from your dark kingdom
No lucky caul on your head
But protective beams were placed
Firmly round your cradle.
Withered beams they placed round you,
An iron tongs above you,
An item of your father’s clothes beside you
And a poker in the fire below.
Put your weight to your strong oar-beams
Against neap-tide and low water;
Preserve the spark of your vision –
Lose that and you’re finished.
(This poem also features in my sister Evie’s first novel The Cross Of Santiago http://eviegaughan.wordpress.com/ – just saying 🙂