Mo Mhíle Stór

translated from the Irish by Seamus Heaney

I was under your spell from the start:
I was young, I was soft,
and you well knew you could turn my head
with your talk about whitewashed courts
and big long sleeps on a duck-down bed
and gloves made out of the skins of fish.

When you sailed away
my goodbyes were the gulls in your wake.
I put up with rows and with blame
from every side; there was a time
when I could number my friends
on the fingers of one hand.

You sailed through life, you came back home,
your boat beached on my bed.
As I covered you all in honey,
I saw your hair had gone grey
and straight;
but in my memory the curls grew on,
twelve coils in the ripening
crop on your head.

Excerpted from The Translations of Seamus Heaney by Seamus Heaney and edited by Marco Sonzogni. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2022 by The Estate of Seamus Heaney. Introduction and editorial material copyright © 2022. All rights reserved.