Verse > Padraic Colum > Anthology of Irish Verse
Padraic Colum (1881–1972).  Anthology of Irish Verse.  1922.
49. St. Patrick’s Breastplate
By Kuno Meyer (Translated)
I ARISE to-day
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,        5
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.        10
I arise to-day
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,        15
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,        20
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,        25
Alone and in a multitude.
Christ to shield me to-day
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.        30
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,        35
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise to-day
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,        40
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
The original of this rhapsody is also in the Rosg metre—it is a kind of rhymed or half rhymed utterance. The language of the poem is, Dr. Hyde says, very old; it is known to have been current in the seventh century and it was then ascribed to Saint Patrick. It is called the “Lorica” and also “The Deer’s Cry.” According to tradition, St. Patrick Uttered it while on his way to Tara, where he was for the first time to confront the power of the Pagan High-King of Ireland. Assassins were in wait for him and his companions, but as he chanted the hymn it seemed to the hidden band that a herd of deer went by.


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