The School Bag

‘My hand is weary with writing’

Saint Columcille

My hand is weary with writing,
My sharp quill is not steady,
My slender-beaked pen jets forth
A black draught of shining dark-blue ink.

A stream of wisdom of blessed God
Springs from my fair-brown shapely hand:
On the page it squirts its draught
Of ink of the green-skinned holly.

My little dripping pen travels
Across the plain of shining books,
Without ceasing for the wealth of the great —
Whence my hand is weary with writing.    

11th century - translated by Kuno Meyer