from The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare
Youth’s summer in which we were
I have spent with its autumn:
Winter-age which overwhelms all men,
To me has come its beginning.
Amen! Woe is me!
Every acorn has to drop
After feasting by shining candles
To be in the gloom of a prayer-house!
I had my day with kings
Drinking mead and wine:
To-day I drink whey-water
Among shrivelled old hags.
I see upon my cloak the hair of old age,
My reason has beguiled me:
Grey is the hair that grows through my skin –
’Tis thus! I am an old hag.
And the second ebb tide –
They have all reached me,
So that I know them well.
The flood wave
Will not reach the silence of my kitchen:
Though many are my company in darkness,
A hand has been laid upon them all.
O happy the isle of the great sea
Which the flood reaches after the ebb!
As for me, I do not expect
Flood after ebb to come to me.
There is scarce a little place today
That I can recognise:
What was on flood
Is all on ebb.
Irish - 10th century - translated by Kuno Meyer