Thursday 3 June 2021

An Irish Poem in Praise of the Blessed Sacrament

This beautiful poem in praise of the Blessed Sacrament was written by a 12th-century poet who may also have been an abbot, Donnchadh Mór Ó Dálaigh, described in The Annals of Clonmacnoise as “Chief of Ireland for poetry.” The Annals of the Four Masters recorded his death in the year 1244 with this entry: “Donagh More O Daly, a poet who never was, and never will be surpassed, died, and was interred in the abbey of Boyle.”  The Irish text is followed by a translation below:

Here is the literal translation [by Professor O'Looney] of the foregoing, which was written in the twelfth century by Donogh Mór O'Daly, Abbot of Boyle, in the county Roscommon, called for the sweetness of his verses, not for the nature of their themes, the Ovid of Ireland : —

1. Not more numerous the angels in heaven under the hand of the king; not more numerous the blessed names which are upon the saints; not more numerous the things which God hath created on the face of the world, than the praises of each tongue upon the Sacrament.

2. Not more numerous the drops which are in the great tidal sea; not more numerous the fishes that swim in the bosoms of all waters; not more numerous the grasses of the world or the sands of the strand, than the praises of the holy Body of the only Son of the Father of grace.

3. Not more numerous the years in the eternal perpetuity of the King; not more numerous the divine gifts which Christ hath [in store]; not more numerous the lights which are in the King's high Paradise, than the praises to God which are truly given in the Sacrament.

4. Not more numerous the radiant stars which appear in the skies; not more numerous the words [of praise] which his clergy read for Christ; not more numerous the small streams which flow into the great sea, than the praises unceasing of the divine, blessed Body of Christ.

5. Not more numerous the letters to be seen in the Book of the Law; not more numerous the leaves of all the woods by the King made to grow; not more numerous the melodious voices which shall be heard in his kingdom for ever, than the praise of the Son of Mary oft-repeated in the Sacrament.