These are my loose translations of a form in Ireland known as “three things there be.” Long before Saint Patrick came, the Irish thought in threes. They were a triune people, with a Celtic triune God, and they, like most Celts, cast spells, and framed their tales by the magic of threes. I have translated some Triads previously translated by the wonderful Irish poet, Thomas Kinsella. I am arrogant after all. *wink*
Three smiles that are worse than griefs:
the smile of snow melting on the heaths,
the smile of wives who to rogues their pleasures bring,
the smile of a mastiff, teeth bared, about to spring.
Three qualities of a fair tale:
good flow like rivers made from ale,
full depth of thought just like the sea,
and as with youth– sweet brevity.
Three qualities of a tale told ill:
Much stiffness, like the hairs of boars,
Obscurity, like fog laced shores,
delivery– a hag’s voice singing shrill.
Three ways to fame in Erin:
great wit, as with the fox,
sweet music, as with the voice of angels,
a sharp blade, and the art of shaving faces.
Three times when speech silence exceeds:
when urging kings toward valorous deeds,
when poetry thy own voice humbly serves,
when praising him whom praise richly deserves.
Three doors through which all falsehood goes:
hot anger which beyond all reason flows,
cold information warmed by calumny,
lame recollection propped on certainty.
Three scarcities exceed abundance then:,
a scarcity of speeches by dull men,
a scarcity of light when sleep draws near,
a scarcity of friends around the beer.
Three loves that are more dangerous than hate:
love for a son who is a reprobate,
love for a wife who turns from thee in bed,
love for a friend who lies with her instead.
Three kinds of trouble fall upon the soul,
the trouble in the want of self control,
the heart gone wanting with no hope of get,
the want no sooner gotten then–regret.