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Colmcille the scribe

My hand is cramped from penwork.

My quill has a tapered point.

Its bird-mouth issues a blue-dark

Beetle-sparkle of ink.

Wisdom keeps welling in streams

From my fine-drawn sallow hand:

Riverrun on the vellum

Of ink from green-skinned holly.

My small runny pen keeps going

Through books, through thick and thin,

To enrich the scholars' holdings —

Penwork that cramps my hand.


Quite so.  An Irish 12th C text; translation by Seamus Heaney

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