Learning a Language using Poetry

This summer I had a notion to learn more than just the cúpla focal I managed to retain from my school days but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it – I do often wonder how I know so little after so many years. Queue a trip to Dingle An Daingean, a spin around The Wild Atlantic Way, being completely transfixed by the Blasket Islands and I was inspired – poetry!

Poetry would be the perfect medium to learn more Irish, I mean what easier way than that, right? (I can actually hear you laughing)

I was mesmerized by the Blasket Islands, especially Inis Tuaisceart – also known as the Sleeping Giant – and there was no better topic to write about ‘as Gaeilge’.

Allow me to correct that; attempt to write about ‘as Gaeilge’.

Inis Tuaisceart is the northernmost of the Blasket Islands and in known as the Sleeping Giant because that’s exactly what it looks like, a giant lying on his back sleeping. Legend has it that the giant will awaken at Ireland’s call – when we will need him the most.

Now if that idea doesn’t inspire you to write a poem in your native tongue nothing will.

From this experiment I can say absolutely and whole-heartedly that poetry is not the easiest way to learn a ‘new’ language and I beg forgiveness to any fluent speakers who may come across this poem which is, no doubt, riddled with errors and all corrections are very much appreciated.


An Fathach Codlata


An féidir leat éisteacht leis an tormáin a snores?

Is féidir leat a bhraitheann an fórsa dá anáil?

Ciúin. Éist.

An féidir leat a éisteacht dó go fóill?


Cad a bheidh sé fuaime mar nuair a stirs sé?

An mbeidh an briseadh agus scoilteadh carraig deafen dúinn?


An mbeidh an talamh shake faoi bhun ár chosa leis an brú?

Nó an mbeidh an domhain ídithe cheana féin?


Cén glao ar Éirinn freagróidh sé,

An fathach codlata seo?


The Sleeping Giant


Can you hear the rumble of his snores?

Feel the force of his breath?


Quiet! Listen.

Can you hear him yet?


What will it sound like when he stirs?

Will the breaking and cracking of the rock deafen us?


Will the ground shake beneath our feet with the strain?

Or will the earth already be exhausted?


What call of Ireland will he answer,

This sleeping giant?



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