Original Version

Literal Translation
of Padraic Colum's "I Shall Not Die for Thee"


The literal crib supplied by Douglas Hyde in the English verison of his book, as quoted in Hugh Kenner,A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers (1983), runs as follows (I have changed the layout to match the lines of the original):
I shall not die for thee,
O woman yonder, of body like a swan.
Silly people [were they] thou hast ever slain.
They and myself are not the same.

Why should I go to die
For the red lip, for the teeth like blossoms?
The gentle figure, the breast like a swan,
Is it for them I myself should die?

The pointed (?) breasts, the fresh skin;
The scarlet cheeks, the undulating cool[*];
Indeed, then, I shall not die
For them, may it please God.

Thy narrow brows, thy tresses like gold,
Thy chaste secret, thy languid voice,
Thy heel round, thy calf smooth.
They shall slay none but a silly person.

Thy delightful mien, thy free spirit,
Thy thin palm, thy side like foam,
Thy blue eye, thy white throat! --
I shall not die for thee.

O woman of body like a swan,
I was nurtured by a cunning man,
O thin palm, O white bosom --
I shall not die for thee.

"cúl" = ass

The second-last line of O'Rahilly's version has unfortunately been lost in the orally transmitted version recorded by Hyde. It reads "aithne dhamh mar bhíd na mná" which (I think) means "I know what women are like!"