The Language Issue by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

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I place my hope on the water

in this little boat

of the language, the way a body might put

an infant

 

in a basket of intertwined

iris leaves,

its underside proofed

with bitumen and pitch,

 

then set the whole thing down amidst

the sedge

and bulrushes by the edge

of a river

 

only to have it borne hither and thither,

not knowing where it might end up;

in the lap, perhaps,

of some Pharaoh’s daughter.

 

 

translated from the Irish by Paul Muldoon

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