Scene

Scene

The Scholar's Life

From the Irish "Beatha an Scoláire," c. 1600, anonymous.

“Scholar” is not synonymous with “Student,” but includes all engaged in the learning/ learned professions.
In the second verse, I translate “ríogh” (king), “rófhlatha,” (gross prince) and “tighearna,” (lord), collectively as “landlord.” Our idea of what a prince is is different from then. A prince was a landlord who had at least 20 tenants, and the relationship of the tenant farmer was face-to-face subservience and rent-paying.


Charmed is the life of the scholar,
(Whose pursuit is learning).
It is clear, dear people,
He has the easiest in Erin.
No kowtowing to landlords;
No worrying or caring;
No struggling for his rent,
No dawn to dusk muck slaving.
Early rising or slaving,
These are not his issues:
Nor need he haste to bed ,
But play late if he wishes.
Always strong his horses
For the ploughing of his lands,
For what horses do his ploughing
But a fistful of pens?

Often he’s playing board games,
Or on the harp he’s strumming.
More often he’s cavorting with
And courting fine women.

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