Down from my composer´s October shelf I take an Old Irish poem; it is, I suppose, ” Quasi Un Haiku ” :
“NI FHETAR” ” NOBODY ( QUITE ) KNOWS! ”
” Ní fhetar / Cia lassa fífea Etan /
Ro-fetar Etan bán /
Nochon fhífeá a hoenaráin! ” =
“Who knows /
Who Etan will sleep with ? /
But I know fair Etan /
She will not sleep alone. ”
What is the woman´s position here ? The ( sniggering young ) man´s ?
What I set was Frank O´Connor´s ( ” KINGS, LORDS AND COMMONS ” ) still brilliant if un poco genteel:
“All are keen to know / Who´ll sleep with blond Aideen ! / All Aideen herself will own / Is that she will not sleep alone “.
Is this text sensational ? Loins an´all ? Yes. Is my women ´n men´s
moilin´´n remoilin´ choral version ? Yes.
( I forgive Frank O´Connor obviously his ” Etan” = ” Aideen ” ; Frank went for the wide open ” E´” and ” I ” ( which Old Irish also,of course, can provide ) .
” All are keen to know
Who´ll sleep with blond Aideen…
All Aideen herself will own
Is that she will not sleep alone… ”
My composer´s “seeing” ear had cottoned to O´Connor´s ” a” // ” ee ” oscillation in the first half of our ” Etan / Aideen ” translation. Then, O´Connor´s and my choral vowels: ” Aw / ee / e / o // A / i / ee / o // ”
Forty years ago , it was , yes, this blessed, beannacht, tonight that I composed my splendidly youthful, heroic ” MEDIEVAL IRISH EPIGRAMMES” for S.A.T.B. Choir . Dr. Hans W. Rosen and the R.T.E.Singers premiered them, also it . Splendid Eric Sweeny also programmed them splendidly and Eric sent them to the 1979 International Composers´Rostrum in Paris.
So far, so Brahmsian. Now, forty years later , I´d love a whack at the original Old Irish and thus a naked, pithy, humble Beowulfian modern equivalent of the female-us male bodies dilemma.