The Celtic Literature Collective

At Saint Patrick’s Purgatory

Pity me on my pilgrimage to Loch Derg! 
O King of the churches and the bells— 
bewailing your sores and your wounds, 
but not a tear can I squeeze from my eyes!

Not moisten an eye 
after so much sin!
Pity me, O King! What shall I do 
with a heart that seeks only its own ease?

Without sorrow or softening in my heart, 
bewailing my faults without repenting them! 
Patrick the high priest never thought
that he would reach God in this way.

O lone son of Calpurn—since I name him—
O Virgin Mary, how sad is my lot!— 
he was never seen as long as he was in this life
without the track of tears from his eyes.

In a narrow, hard, stone-wall cell
I lie after all my sinful pride—
O woe, why cannot I weep a tear!— 
and I buried alive in the grave.

On the day of Doom we shall weep heavily, 
both clergy and laity;
the tear that is not dropped in time, 
none heeds in the world beyond.

I shall have you go naked, go unfed,
body of mine, father of sin, 
for if you are turned Hellwards 
little shall I reck your agony tonight.

O only begotten Son by whom all men were made, 
who shunned not the death by three wounds, 
pity me on my pilgrimage to Loch Derg 
and I with a heart not softer than a stone!

Eleanor Hull, Textbook of Irish Literature vol. 1, 216. Dublin, 1910. In Sean O’Faolain's The Silver Branch.

Hull give the origin as from "a Maynooth manuscript," printed without signature in The Gaelic Journal, iv, 190. Attributed to Donnchadh mor O'Dala, ca. 1244.