Happy Birthday Samuel Ferguson

Ferguson

Born in Belfast in 1810 Ferguson was a barrister and public servant, but also a poet and Irish antiquarian.  He studied Irish history and mythology fifty years before the Irish Literary revival led by Lady Gregory and William Butler Yeats.

He began writing poetry to pay for his education as a barrister, because his father flittered away the family money.

Ferguson married Mary Guinness of the Guinness Brewing family, and daughter of Robert Rundell Guinness, founder of Guinness Mahon bank.  He lived, and died, in Howth, a pretty fishing village north of Dublin.   But he was buried in Donegore, a tiny village in County Antrim.  I feel there must be an interesting story behind that choice of final resting place.

Many of his poems were written in both Irish and English.  Even in English you can hear the beautiful lyricism of the Gaelic come through.  His work has a sing song quality that could be adapted to music and indeed many of his poems read like ballad lyrics.

This poem Cean Dubh Deelish is Irish Gaelic Ceann dubh deiliúsach which translates as saucy dark head or impudent black hair or something endearing along those lines.

Cean Dubh Deelish; by Samuel Ferguson

Put your head, darling, darling, darling,
your darling black head my heart above;
O mouth of honey, with thyme for fragrance,
who, with heart in breast, could deny you love?

O many and many a young girl for me is pining,
letting her locks of gold to the cold wind free,
for me, the foremost of our gay young fellows;
But I’d leave a hundred, pure love, for thee!

Then put your head, darling, darling, darling,
your darling black head my heart above;
O mouth of honey, with thyme for fragrance,
who, with heart in breast, could deny you love?

Lovers

Lovers by Marc Chagall