Gabriel Rosenstock was born in postcolonial Ireland and is a poet, haikuist, tankaist, translator, playwright, novelist, short story writer and essayist.
Politics in Northern Ireland
a bilingual limerick by Limerick bilinguist Gabriel Rosenstock
We'd bring back the border tomorrow
It may cause discomfort and sorrow
It's simple, you see,
Says the DUP
We must prevent Sodom (and Gomorrah!)
Tugtar ar ais dúinn ár dteorainn
Is bíodh líne eadrainn i gcónaí
Arsa an DUP
(Ní i nGaelainn Chiarraí):
Bíodh an diabhal buí ag Sodam is Gomóra!
The Native American reservation stands as a searing metaphor for the evils of colonialism and capitalism with its dreadful legacy of forced religious conversion, language loss, cultural and environmental degradation, rampant alcoholism and a host of other social ills.
How is it that when we engineered the genocide of First Nation peoples . . . how is it that we didn't anticipate the current global crisis? How is it that we didn't have an inkling of the traditional wisdom of the 'barbarians' we were destroying, as we corralled the survivors in reservations . . . a wisdom that would have helped us to cherish the planet and avoid catastrophe?
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. - Chief Seattle, Duwamish
And yet, even today, Standing Rock reservation, with the nearby pipeline, became a symbol of what the Rev. Jesse Jackson has called 'environmental racism'. In hindsight we now see the eternal wisdom of Sun Bear and all the other great philosophers and sages of the Americas:
I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are, but rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.
- Sun Bear, Chippewa
No Hunting is a bilingual photo-tanka sequence in Irish and English (5-7-5-7-7 syllables) by Gabriel Rosenstock in response to photographs taken in Native American reservations by Rhett Arens. It is downloadable here:
Dancing for Ukraine is a bilingual tanka by Gabriel Rosenstock in response to Three Ukrainian Dancers (1895) previously known as Les Trois Danseuses Russes by Edgar Degas. Many art galleries are now becoming conscious of having mislabelled works of art on display and in storage, having used the broad term 'Russian' when geographical, cultural-linguistic or, indeed, national reasons should have compelled them to look again.
when will you dance, girls
when will your hearts overflow
with hope and desire
when will men return from war
bodies numb and minds frozen
a ghirseacha liom
cathain a dhamhsóidh sibh
le dóchas is brí
cathain a fhillfidh na fir
ón ár, a n-anam reoite
the whole world is blocking RT:
'move along now, there's nothing to see'
so, what's on the box?
CNN and Fox?
says Biden, 'you can always watch me!'
Another downloadable pdf from Gabriel Rosenstock, with tankas and images. Image above is Fisherman, by Viktor Palmov
'When war breaks out people say: 'It won't last, it's too stupid.' And war is certainly too stupid, but that doesn't prevent it from lasting.'
- Albert Camus, The Plague
Time to Bury Heroes is a bilingual tanka in Irish and English (5-7-5-7-7 syllables) by Gabriel Rosenstock in response to a painting by Russian artist Vasily Vereshchagin (October 26, 1842 – April 13, 1904). Vereschagin made no bones about the horrors of war.
it has come again
the time to bury heroes
they'll enrich the earth
yellow wheat will grow stronger
and feed our young warriors
sé an t-am sin é
am adhlactha na laochra
saibhreoidh siad an chré
neartóidh siad an chruithneacht
chun an macra a chothú
Gabriel Rosenstock presents a bilingual tanka, in Irish and English (5-7-5-7-7 syllables) in response to an artwork (above) by Henry Ossawa Tanner, the first African-American artist to achieve international renown. The Thankful Poor is the ironic title of Tanner's painting from 1894.
The Thankful Poor
by Gabriel Rosenstock
they are everywhere
their heads bowed, the thankful poor
it weighs heavily
their silence . . . their gratitude
for what - for being alive?
tá siad gach aon áit
na bochtáin, a gceann cromtha
is trom é a dtost
cén fáth tost, cén fáth buíochas
an buíoch atáid as bheith beo?