Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 18: A Land Flowing With Milk and Honey

Today’s poem is by Donatus (the Latin version of Donat or Donagh), a 9th century Irish teacher, poet, and cleric. Donatus was born into a noble Irish family and educated at the well-known monastery on Inis Cealtra. He eventually became bishop of Fiesole in Italy. The title of the poem references a Roman name for Ireland and reminds us that the people known as the Scoti (or Scotii) originally came from Ireland.

From the New Oxford Book of Irish Verse, translated from the Latin by Thomas Kinsella.


It is said that that western land is of Earth the best,
that land called by name ‘Scotia’ in the ancient books:
an island rich in goods, jewels, cloth, and gold,
benign to the body, mellow in soil and air.
The plains of lovely Ireland flow with honey and milk.
There are clothes and fruit and arms and art in plenty;
no bears in ferocity there, nor any lions,
for the land of Ireland never bore their seed.
No poisons pain, no snakes slide in the grass,
nor does the chattering frog groan on the the lake.

And a people dwell in that land who deserve their home,
a people renowned in war and peace and faith.

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