Many score years after the greatest hero of the western hemisphere, Cú Chulain, son of the god Lug, made his last stand before the army of Medb the queen of Connachta, there lived in Ériu near Briug na Bóinde a council of Druids. These Druids wore black and red robes on which their symbol, the Róisín Dubh, the Black Rose, was visible.
Róisín Dubh, written in the 16th to 19th century, is one of Ireland's most famous political songs. It is based on an older love-lyric in which the title referred to the poet's beloved rather than, as here, being a pseudonym for Ireland. The intimate tone of the original carries over into the political song.
Little Rose, be not sad for all that hath behapped thee:|
The friars are coming across the sea, they march on the main.
From the Pope shall come thy pardon, and from Rome, from the East-
And stint not Spanish wine to my Little Dark Rose.
A Róisín ná bíodh brón ort fár éirigh dhuit-|
tá na bráithre ag dul ar sáile is iad ag triall ar muir,
tiocfaigh do phardún óa bPápa is ón Róimh anoir
is ní spáráilfear fíon Spáinneach ar mo Róisín Dubh.
Long the journey that I made with her from yesterday till today,|
Over mountains did I go with her, under the sails upon the sea,
The Erne I passed by leaping, though wide the flood,
And there was string music on each side of me and my Little Dark Rose!
Is fada an réim a lig mé léi ó inné do dtí inniu,|
trasna sléibhte go ndeachas léi is mo sheólta ar muir;
An éirne scoithe sí de léim í cé gur mór é a sruth;
is mar cheól téad ar gach taobh di a bhíonn mo Róisín Dubh.
Thou hast slain me, O my bride, and may it serve thee no whit,|
For the soul within me loveth thee, not since yesterday nor today,
Thou has left me weak and broken in mien and in shape,
Betray me not who love thee, my Little Dark Rose!
Mhearaigh tú mé, a bhradóg, is nár ba fearrde dhuit,|
's go bhfuil m'anam istigh i ngean ort is ní inné ná inniu.
D'fhág tú lag anbhann mé i ngné is i gcruth;
ná feall orm is mé i gnean ort, a Róisín Dubh.
I would walk the dew with thee and the meadowy wastes,|
In hope of getting love from thee, or part of my will,
Frangrant branch, thou didst promise me that thou hadst for me love-
And sure the flower of all Munster is Little Dark Rose!
Shiúfainn féin an drúcht leat is fásaigh goirt|
mar shúil go bhfaighinn rún uait nó páirt ded thoil;
a chraoibhín chumhra, gheallais damhsa go raibh grá agat dom,
is gurb í plúrscoth na Mumhan í mo Róisín Dubh.
Had I a yoke of horses I would plough against the hills,|
In middle-Mass I'd make a gospel of my Little Dark Rose,
I'd give a kiss to the young girl that would give her mouth to me,
And behind the liss would lie embracing my Little Dark Rose!
Dá mbeadh seisreach agam threabhfainn in aghaidh na gcnoc|
is dhéanfainn soiscéal i lár an Aifrinn do mo Róisín Dubh;
bhéarainn póg don chailín óg a bhéarfadh a hóighe dhom
is dhéanfainn cleas an leasa le mo Róisín Dubh.
The Erne shall rise in rude torrents, hills shall be rent,|
The sea shall roll in red waves, and blood be poured out,
Every mountain glen in Ireland, and the bogs shall quake
Some day ere shall perish my Little Dark Rose!
Beidh an Éirne 'na tuilte tréana is réabfar cnoic,|
beidh an fharraige 'na tonnta dearga is an spéir 'na fuil,
beidh gach gleann sléibhe ar fud éireann is móinte ar crith,
lá éigin sula n-éagfaidh mo Róisín Dubh.
Irish Gaelic by Owen Roe MacWard
English by Padraic Pearse
Replay background music: Roisín Dubh
cf. an Duanaire pg 308
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