Original : Seated in back of empty Manhattan College auditorium, Riverdale, N.Y. Winter, 1950-1951
The falling snow was settling on the stairs
He came inside and shook his snowy coat
And now, beside the drapes and empty chairs
He sits and sounds a lone piano key.
And then he gently moves from note to note
Descending, rising, blending, breaking free,
Or circling round as if by breezes swirled.
Anew there is the settling of the snow
But now, the atmosphere is in his private world.
An Seinnteoir Pianó
Bhí sneachta ag cur an staighre faoina chlúid
Do tháinig sé isteach, do chroith a chóta
Is tá anois ‘na shuí ag pianó 'siúd
A luíonn sé le fuaim uaigneach air.
Is lean sé air le nóta agus nóta
Anuas, aníos, ag cumasc, agus saor
Nó leis an leoithne i gcuaifeach.
Is as an nua tá an sneachta á chur
Ach tá an t-atmaisféar 'na dhomhan príomháideach
Translation into Irish: Northport, N.Y. 11 December, 2003.
Raymond J. Clark
Réamonn Ó Cléirigh
Comment: Rather than go into the crowded library to study when I had no class, I would sit on a bench outside. But a gentle snow began to fall, so I took my books inside the empty auditorium and sat in the back row of seats. After a little while a man came in, shook the snow from his coat, didn't seem to see me, and walked straight down to the piano near the stage. He struck a single note, then sat down and began to play a long piece of music. I stopped studying and listened. I could see the snow floating down outside the windows and the snow flakes seemed to follow the music. Suddenly, I got an inspiration. I switched that around. I imagined the music was following the snow. I decided to make up a poem.
In the first four lines I describe the real event down to the single sound on the piano. In the next three lines I try to describe the music in words that would also suit gently falling snow. And if the music notes were snow flakes, the air they were falling through had to be in another dimension or world. In the final two lines, I imagine that the music snow is settling within the soul or spirit of the piano player.
In the Irish version, the word 'uaigneach,' which means 'lonely,' fits the mood of the music he played that day.