Listen to this: 

“Saoirse”, The Gloaming



(Cover of The Gloaming’s 2013 self-titled album, photo titled “Passage” by by Robert and Shana Parke Harrison)

The official album info on the The Gloaming website says that this song “speak[s] to the struggle between individuality and serving a tribal code, between creative freedom and containment.” (source)

It’s longing, isn’t it. Longing to belong, and longing to be free. And not being able to let go of either. 

The lyrics are an adaptation of the poem “Saoirse” by Seán O Riordáin. I haven’t been able to find a translation for the song version itself, but there is one for the original poem. So here is the poem in Irish first of all, and then in an English translation:


Raghaidh mé síos i measc na ndaoine
De shiúl mo chos
Is raghaidh mé. síos anocht.

Raghaidh mé síos ag lorg daoirse
Ón mbinibshaoirse
Tá ag liú anseo:

Is ceanglód an chonairt smaointe
Tá ag, drannadh im thimpeall
San uaigneas:

Is loirgeod an teampall rialta
Bhionn lán de dhaoine
Ag am fé leith:

Is loirgeod comhluadar daoine
Nár chleacht riamh saoirse,
Ná uaigneas:
Is éistfead leis na scillingsmaointe,
A malartaítear
Mar airgead:

Is bhféarfad gean mo chroí do dhaoine
Nár samhlaidh riamh leo
Ach macsmaointe.

Ó fanfad libh de ló is d’oiche,
Is beidh mé íseal,
Is beidh mé dílis,
D’bhur snabsmaointe.

Mar do chuala iad ag fás im intinn,
Ag fás gan chuimse,
Gan mheasarthacht.

Is do thugas gean mo chroí go fíochmhar
Don rud tá srianta,
Don gach macrud:

Don smacht, don reacht, don teampall daoineach,
Don bhfocal bocht coitianta
Don am fé leith:

Don ab, don chlog, don seirbhiseach
Don chomparáid fhaitíosach,
Don bheaguchtach:

Don luch, don tomhas, don dreancaid bhideach,
Don chaibidil, don líne
Don aibítir:

Don mhórgacht imeachta is tíochta,
Don chearrbhachas istoíche,
Don bheannachtain:

Don bhfeirmeoir ag tomhas na gaoithe
Sa bhfómhar is é ag cuirnhneamh
Ar pháirc eornan:

Don chomhthuiscint, don chomh-sheanchuimhne,
Do chomhiompar comhdhaoine,
Don chomh-mhacrud

Is bheirim fuath anois is choíche
Do imeachtaí na saoirse,
Don neamhspleáchas.

Is atuirseach an intinn
A thit in iomar doimhin na saoirse,
Ní mhaireann cnoc dar chruthaigh Dia ann,
Ach cnoic theibi, sainchnoic shamhlaíochta.
Is bíonn gach cnoc díobh lán de mhianta
Ag dreapadóireacht gan chomhlíonadh,
Nil teora leis an saoirse
Ná le cnoca na samhlaíochta,
Ná níl teora leis na mianta,
Ná faoiseamh
Le fail.

– – – – – 

I will go down amongst the people
on foot
and I will go down tonight

I will go down seeking bondage
from the venom liberty
that howls here:

and I will tie the pack of thoughts
that snarl around me
in the solitude:

And I will seek an ordered temple
where people congregate
at a set time;

And I will seek out people
who never practised liberty
or solitude:

And I will listen to the shilling thoughts
that are exchanged
like money:

And I will give the love of my heart to people
who never imagined
other than second hand.

Oh, I will remain with you day and night,
And I will be lowly
And I will be faithful
to your stub-thoughts.

Because I heard them grow in my mind,
grow without control,
without moderation.

And I gave them my heart’s love fiercely
to the thing that is bridled,
to every copied thing:

To discipline, to law, to the peopled temple,
To the poor and commonplace word,
to the set time:

To the abbott, the bell, the servant,
to the hesitant comparison,
to cowardice:

To the mouse, to measurement, to the tiny flea,
to the chapter and the line
of the alphabet:

To the majesty of going and coming,
to gambling at night,
to salutations:

To the farmer measuring the wind
in the autumn as he thinks
of a field of barley:

To co-understanding, to co-tradition
to co-behaviour of co-people,
to the co-copied thing.

And I bestow my hatred now and forever
on the doings of liberty
on independence

Weary is the mind
that has fallen in the deep trough of liberty,
no hill erected by God exists there,
only abstract hills, the particular hills of the imagination,
and each hill is full of desires
climbing, unfulfilled,
liberty is without limit,
so are the hills of the imagination
the desires are unlimited,
and there exists
no release.



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