Padraic Colum

I Shall Not Die for Thee


O woman, shapely as the swan,
On your account I shall not die:
The men you've slain -- a trivial clan --
Were less than I.

I ask me shall I die for these --
For blossom teeth and scarlet lips --
And shall that delicate swan-shape
Bring me eclipse?

Well-shaped the breasts and smooth the skin,
The cheeks are fair, the tresses free --
And yet I shall not suffer death,
God over me!

Those even brows, that hair like gold,
Those languorous tones, that virgin way,
The flowing limbs, the rounded heel
Slight men betray!

Thy spirit keen through radiant mien,
Thy shining throat and smiling eye,
Thy little palm, thy side like foam --
I cannot die!

O woman, shapely as the swan,
In a cunning house hard-reared was I:
O bosom white, O well-shaped palm,
I shall not die!


Here are the original Irish texts on which this poem is based, together with a literal transation.
And here is an alternative translation by Frank O'Connor