Donal Óg, gloves of the skin of a fish, shoes of the skin of a bird

When the Irish poet read the poem, the poem became his. It is his voice that reads the poem to me now. I have gone on to read it aloud to others, so vital does it seem to me, so honest. It’s possible these others may be reading the poem from time to time and hearing my voice or the voices of any and all the people they’ve heard read it. “Donal Og” is a fairly famous poem. It’s been translated numerous times (my favourite version is Lady Gregory’s, the translation I first fell in love with) and, as one of the great Irish ballads, it’s been sung and recorded over a good few generations. The poem in its original Irish has been dated to the 8th Century. We know “Donal Og” means “Young Donald”; we assume the speaker is a she. But Anon? Anon is a fabulous mystery. Anon is the poet who let loose the poem. Thinking about Anon this past month I’ve imagined what it would be like to publish a whole book as Anon, what things it might free me up to say, how unaccountable I’d be to anyone or anything. Sitting down with yourself and working as a poet is a privilege, but imagine, just imagine, saying something so well, so powerfully, that as a thing-in-itself the poem might go on speaking crucially: outlasting its need for a name and that name’s claim on an interval in history.

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;

the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.

It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;

and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me,

that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;

I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,

and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you,

a ship of gold under a silver mast;

twelve towns with a market in all of them,

and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible,

that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;

that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;

and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,

I sit down and I go through my trouble;

when I see the world and do not see my boy,

he that has an amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;

the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.

And myself on my knees reading the Passion;

and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

My mother said to me not to be talking with you today,

or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;

it was a bad time she took for telling me that;

it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,

or as the black coal that is on the smith’s forge;

or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;

it was you that put that darkness over my life.

You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me;

you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;

you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;

and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

(Trans. Lady Gregory)

This version of an anonymous 8th century Irish poem was translated by Lady Augusta Gregory. For me it’s the poetry equivalent of an earworm, a catchy song you can’t stop humming along with.

The unusual syntax lends it a striking rhythm and the repetition – you promised me; you promised me – makes it easy to memorise, hard to forget. The pleasure is in the shape and the sound, as much as the old, sad story (the lament of the young woman betrayed, those impossible broken promises familiar from so many ballads and folk songs) – or the wonderful imagery: gloves of the skin of a fish; shoes of the skin of a bird. This is a mysterious, magical poem that begs to be read aloud.


1. Introduction

The evolving relationship between humans and dogs has attracted significant research interest. This is partially because dogs were the earliest domesticated animal, but many people today have a close connection to this species fuelling interest into the origin of our familiar companion. The bond between humans and dogs developed to the extent that both species benefited in some manner and, for many millennia, dogs have been important in the lives of humans. The extent to which people found dogs a source of protection and comfort, as well as hunting tools are important questions as to how the early alliance flourished (Perri, 2016, Lupo, 2017, Guagnin et al., 2018).

In this paper, we present evidence from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) settlement of Shubayqa 6 in northeast Jordan where the close relationship between humans and dogs is evident. This reciprocal tie involved dogs extensively scavenging through waste discarded at the settlement and, in return, they may have provided humans with the means to hunt more effectively, as well as offering security and early warning of danger. Based on the longer-term patterns of faunal exploitation in the region, the cooperation between humans and dogs may have started earlier in the final stages of the Natufian at a time when widening of the resource base has been repeatedly linked to climate change and population expansion depleting environmental reserves (Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen, 2002, Stutz et al., 2009). The importance of the Younger Dryas (∼12,900–11,600 cal BP) as an influence on subsistence strategies has been questioned in recent years (Maher et al., 2011a, Caracuta et al., 2016) and the use of new hunting techniques offers a different factor that should be considered in the interpretation of these developments. It is impossible to assess the level of companionship dogs afforded people from the archaeological record, but this should also be born in mind (Manwell and Baker, 1984). Although cultural attitudes to dogs vary significantly, dogs may well have been more than just hunting tools. However, a main reason for humans to tolerate dogs living amongst them in large numbers would probably have been to utilise their hunting abilities. The question, therefore, is how did the use of dogs influence hunting and the prey targeted as people learnt to hunt more effectively with their new companions?

2. Background


Gregory Shushan has previously studied near-death experiences [NDE] in early Christianity, the Vedas, and as a methodological issue in the comparative study of religions. In this book, Near-Death Experience in Indigenous Religions, Shushan provides exhaustive research on textual accounts of Indigenous traditions in North America, Africa, and Oceania. Shushan characterizes Indigenous societies using terms of difference appropriate to the dynamism and variety of traditions covered by this global category–they did not produce written religious texts, they have diverse beliefs particular to their locations, with internal variations consistent with oral cultures and dynamic developments over time. Given that he is providing a compilation of written sources, Shushan acknowledges this as a study of crisis situations. These accounts are found in the records of missionaries and anthropologists from the 17th to the 20th century. “In general, the societies were first studied during periods of religious, cultural, social, and/or physical crises due to multipronged colonialist assaults on their land, resources, bodies and souls—which partly entailed the destruction or transformation of traditional beliefs and practices” (12). His methodological emphasis, therefore, is to provide accounts that are culturally contextualized to accurately represent the Indigenous hermeneutics of religious experience particular to the respective regions. Shushan identifies NDE as “exceptional experience” that he is not reductively explaining away in terms of cognitive science, for example, but rather through interdisciplinary research questions that build a more accurate description of the power of these experiences in the organization of communities, toward the fundamental question “what happens to us when we die?”



Rannoch Moor is a wide, elevated bowl that sits in the Central Highlands of Scotland. Rimmed by mountains, it’s a chalice that held some of the last ice of the last ice age. Ten thousand years later it’s still rising, a few millimetres a year: a long, slow decompression after the burden of a mile’s depth of ice. No roads cross the moor, but there is a railway line and the Glasgow to Fort William train trundles over it four times a day.

When the ice melted, the trees returned. The Black Wood of Rannoch survives as a fragment of the forest that once covered the moor. It would have been home to various flora and fauna including bear, elk, lynx, aurochs, red deer, wolf, and human. In the space of a few centuries, we chopped down the forest for timber and cleared the land of most of its wild animals. Legend has it that in the late 16th century, Domhnal mac Fhionnlaigh, a renowned local hunter and bard, killed all the remaining wolves of Rannoch. I prefer Jim Crumley’s version, which can be read in his book The Last Wolf (2010), where, rather than being killed by man, the last wolf takes herself off to a remote, wild place on the moor and dies of old age. Either way, by the 18th century, wolves were extinct throughout Scotland.


Some kind people have organised this GoFundMe appeal and made some contributions, so if any readers feel inclined to help me with this Terrain Hopper project and thus earn my gratitude, here’s the link, please pass it around like a hat, across the wild turbulent invisible expanses of vastness out there, called the internet. This is not something I’ve ever done before, so it’s an interesting new exploration…

I had an idea. I think it is fresh, but probably others have had the same thought before me. It has to do with time, and whatever constitutes who, or what, I am, and you are.

If, say, you begin at a particular time, say, 9pm, and spend an hour in some activity, until 10pm, are you the same person as the person you’d be if you’d spent that hour following a different activity ?

Seems a simple question that some annoying child might ask. But let’s take a look.

There’s an almost infinite number of possible actions that ‘you’ might have done during the course of that hour, and some of them would have, potentially, dramatic effects upon your subsequent existence.

You could be quite passive and doze in a chair by the fire, or you could go and rob someone at gunpoint, or you could seduce you best friend’s wife, or dance or play piano or cards or, if you’re Jordan Peterson, tidy your room….

Pretty much anything that any human being has ever done is available as an option….

And that’s kind of weird. Does anybody see it that way ? Probably, most just follow a habit or perform a necessary task, unaware that they could choose from other possibilities. Compelled, like a train following a track.

But this is karma, or one meaning of that term. Because if you do one thing, A, then the result is going to be B. And if you do a different thing, C, then the result is going to be D. If you wash the dishes then you’ll have clean plates and pans, but if you don’t, well, they stay dirty, but you did something else, for whatever reason and motive.

And the result is that you yourself will be, or be on the way to becoming, a slightly different character. The increments accumulate. If you go to the fridge for comfort food, you put on weight. If you do press-ups, you get stronger muscles. You can look at porn or read Voltaire, get drunk or struggle to master a musical instrument. Whatever it is, you can choose to make something of yourself, for better or worse

If you wish to advance your social standing, then you need to train yourself and develop skills and learn new and difficult stuff. There’s a hell of a lot of people out there, all competing for advancement and opportunity. A person who disciplines themselves to learn something will gain an advantage over those who don’t or can’t.

That’s fairly trivial and obvious. Obviously, it makes it much easier if you follow a path that gives you pleasure, satisfaction, a sense of achievement and accomplishment.

This is where zen meditation comes is. No sense of achievement or attainment. Just sitting absolutely still doing nothing. Well, not absolutely nothing, because your heart still beats and you breath. It’s not quite the same as being asleep. Or dead. But it gives a sort of gauge of reference for all other possible activities and ways of being.

Of course, it’s not that simple, zen meditation is not just ‘one thing’, there many different things that can be practiced.

For example, you might sit in lotus posture for an hour without any thoughts, just focussed on your breaths, completely single-minded, without letting your attention waver.

You, the reader, might consider such a practice to be absurd, a pointless waste of time. But unless you’ve actually tried it, unless you can actually DO it, you have no real insight or understanding as to what is involved. A person who can do this is not the same as a person who cannot do it, or someone who has never even tried.

When you CAN do it, then you can choose whether to arrange flowers in exquisite harmony, or whether to be a master of violent combat, like Musashi, or whether to assist the suffering of unfortunate people or animals, or whatever else your own personal calling might be.

An interesting topic to explore would be how this stuff relates to the Judaeo-Christian tradition as illuminated by Jordan Peterson in his Biblical series and also Jay Dyer’s work, because, as far as I’m aware neither have much knowledge of Buddhism or Taoism. Maybe I’ll get around to that if a future essay.

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312 Responses to Donal Óg, gloves of the skin of a fish, shoes of the skin of a bird

  1. ulvfugl says:

    TB #000 – A Synopsis of Russia from the Russian Revolution to the Wars in Chechnya

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    Hunters will be allowed to kill some of Britain’s most endangered bird species under new temporary permits licensed by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales.

    The birds at risk throughout England and Wales include species whose numbers are threatened in the UK, according to the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). Bullfinches, meadow pipits and oystercatchers are all included in the new permits and are amber-listed for intermediate conservation priority. Another species, the skylark, will be subject to licensed hunting despite the RSPB red-listing it as a critical conservation priority for the UK.

    Both Natural England and Natural Resources Wales are sponsored by central government and are responsible for “promoting nature conservation” and “protecting people and the environment” according to their websites. They cite safety concerns to justify granting the permits and claim shooting birds could prevent damage to crops and reduce interference with air traffic.

    Although the permits strictly outline the overall number of birds that are allowed to be shot, monitoring and enforcing this will be crucial. By opening songbird hunting in the UK, the government could be offering a new route for supplying dead birds to the illicit trade across Europe.

  4. ulvfugl says:

    It was my love and my treasure
    who went yesterday to Glengarry,
    the man with hair like gold
    and kisses that taste of honey.

    You suit your clothes
    better than any man on earth;
    you look better in your garments
    than any man I’ve ever seen.

    You look better in stockings
    and comfortable laced shoes,
    a dark blue London coat
    that cost many crowns to buy.

    When you arrive at the fair,
    you’ll bring home my gear,
    my small belt and my comb
    and my little narrow fastening

    My belt will come from Edinburgh
    and my marriage head-dress from
    we’ll get cattle from the Mearns
    and sheep from Caithness.

    And we’ll rear them in a sheiling
    in Bràigh Raithneach,
    in the brush-wood enclosed hut of

    The cuckoo will sing
    its song to us from the trees,
    the brown stag and its roaring
    will wake us in the morning.

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  9. ulvfugl says:

    Must have been something you said
    You caught me off guard and alone
    Running round the streets in the dark
    Trying to find my home

    You can listen to my heartbeat
    Let the rain pounding on the open road
    Let me whip you off of your feet
    Let me show you how it feels to be the one


    I know you’re gonna feel alive
    I know you’re gonna feel alive


    Hold on
    If you can be strong
    Yeah it’s a risk worth taking
    To have a life worth living
    You need to hold on
    You need to hold on

    Must have been something you wrote
    Or the look in your eyes that told me no
    Please do run ahead
    No chance you’re going home
    You can listen to my heart explode
    Like the sound of the wind on an open road
    Let me live in the eye of the storm
    Let me show you how it feels to be alone

    I know you’re gonna feel alive
    I know you’re gonna feel alive
    Hold on
    If you can be strong
    Yeah it’s a risk worth taking
    To have a life worth living
    You need to hold on
    You need to hold on
    You need to hold on
    You need to hold on
    You need to hold on
    You need to hold on
    I know you’re gonna feel alive
    I know you’re gonna feel alive
    I know you’re gonna feel alive
    I know you’re gonna feel alive
    Hold on
    If you can be strong
    Yeah it’s a risk worth taking
    To have a life worth living
    You need to hold on

  10. ulvfugl says:

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  12. ulvfugl says:

    A massive blast of Arctic air will hit the Midwest and Northeast by the middle of this week, bringing temperatures to their lowest levels in years.

    Using words such as “life-threatening,” “dangerous,” “brutal,” and “unprecedented,” the National Weather Service is preparing us for the extreme cold that’s forecast to roar into the U.S. next week. -USA Today

    “The coldest air of the season will plunge the upper Midwest and Great Lakes into life-threatening conditions,” noted the National Weather Service.

    According to the National Weather Service, the hardest hit zone will stretch from Minnesota and Iowa through Michigan – including Chicago, Detroit, Des Moines, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison.

    The Chicago Weather Service office has predicted temperatures below zero for 60 consecutive hours – from Tuesday afternoon through Thursday. “Only eight times since 1872 has Chicago recorded subzero highs on at least two consecutive days, the most recent being early February 1996,” it announced.

    Milwaukee and Madison also face bone-chilling cold. In its forecast discussion for the region, the Weather Service wrote that the danger of the predicted temperatures “can’t be overstated,” noting they will be 30 to 40 degrees below normal. “For January, that’s incredible,” it said. -WaPo

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  18. ulvfugl says:

    Was it conspiracy or idiocy that led to the failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to detect and prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon headquarters? That’s one of the questions at the heart of “The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror,” by John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski. In their careful and thorough investigation of the events leading up to the attacks, the authors uncover a story about the Central Intelligence Agency’s neglect, possible criminal activities and a cover-up that may have allowed al-Qaida to carry out its plans uninhibited by government officials.

    In the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” the journalists tell Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer how an interview with Richard Clarke, the counterterror adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, led them to a jaw-dropping revelation regarding two hijackers involved in the infamous attacks. As it turns out, Khalid Muhammad Abdallah al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, two men linked to al-Qaida, were staying at an FBI informant’s home in San Diego in 2000, and they were being tracked by the National Security Agency. Despite knowledge of the men’s ties to the terrorist organization responsible for 9/11, neither was investigated by the FBI. Clarke and others believe that this may have had to do with a CIA attempt to turn the two men into agency informants.

  19. ulvfugl says:

  20. ulvfugl says:

    Why do humans make art? When did we begin to make our mark on the world? And where? In this film, Britain’s most celebrated sculptor Antony Gormley is setting out on a journey to see for himself the very beginnings of art.

    Once we believed that art began with the cave paintings of Ice Age Europe, tens of thousands of years ago. But now, extraordinary new discoveries around the world are overturning that idea. Antony is going to travel across the globe, and thousands of years back in time, to piece together a new story of how art began. He discovers beautiful, haunting and surprising works of art, deep inside caves across France, Spain and Indonesia, and in Australian rock shelters. He finds images created by hunter-gatherers that surprise him with their tenderness, and affinity with the natural world. He discovers the secrets behind the techniques used by our ancestors to create these paintings. And he meets experts making discoveries that are turning the clock back on when art first began.

    Finally Antony asks what these images from millennia ago can tell us – about who we are. As he says, ‘If we can look closely at the art of our ancestors, perhaps we will be able to reconnect with something vital that we have lost.”‘.

  21. ulvfugl says:

    Many thousands of Beakers sit on the shelf; shoveled out of the ground by dudes with a coiled whip on the belt. Ava was no warrior; her grave contains no copper or gold. Her grave was nearly forgotten. Now she is the most interesting woman in Britain. The face of the mysterious Beaker Enigma.

  22. ulvfugl says:

    It’s called the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field 2014 (HUDF), and it’s one of the most breathtaking mosaics the telescope has produced. In it, around 10,000 galaxies gleam – a feast for astronomers exploring the early Universe.

    Now a team of astronomers has made the image even better. Over the course of three years, scientists at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) developed and applied an image processing technique designed to draw out the unseen light in the HUDF.

    They called this complex technique ABYSS, and with it they have recovered the dim light from the outer edges of the largest galaxies in the image.

  23. ulvfugl says:

    The story begins with a series of strange emails and photographs that leads them to Hellier, Kentucky. Following clues left by previous occultists and UFOlogists, the paranormal investigation team is searching for small mysterious humanoid creatures that they find out has been occurring all throughout Appalachian coal country for decades under various names such as the Tommy Knockers, Goblins, Critters, and a host of other names. Are these aliens? Goblins? Land Spirits? Ghosts? Faeries? Ultraterrestrials? Something else? That’s what the team sets out to find out.

  24. ulvfugl says:

    During a Monday White House press briefing national security adviser John Bolton was photographed carrying a notepad — presumably as he was fresh out of a national security meeting — and one of the things which appears to be handwritten on the pad is “5,000 troops to Colombia”.

    The contents of the notepad were spotted almost immediately by multiple journalists online after an NBC news release featuring the AP photo was published. More precisely the full contents appear to read:

    “Afghanistan -> Welcome the Talks. 5,000 troops to Colombia.”

    Here’s the image of Bolton with his notepad from NBC News:

  25. ulvfugl says:

    We live in a world where everyone is trying to manipulate everyone else, where social media has opened up the floodgates for a mayhem of influence. And the one thing all the new propagandists have in common is the idea that to really get to someone you have to not just spin or nudge or persuade them, but transform the way they think about the world, the language and concepts they have to make sense of things.

    godiva chocolate
    1 hour ago
    Face reality – people at the top of the business world did not get there because they were clever, innovative and talented. Men like Bezos play unfair and dishonestly. He undercut the market with an unfair advantage, bought politicians to help him keep his lower costs, he browbeat and squeezed every penny he could from his suppliers, dodged taxes, back stabbed, cheated the competition…. All in all he was a bastard and made a LOT of enemies. The retail industry hates him. His suppliers hate him. Those who sell on Amazon hate him. Many customers hate him. Then he plays the hypocrite democrat while doing everything he accuses them of being immoral by doing. He makes plenty of political enemies. And then he has an affair that is sure to make enemies of both families. And all the Business Genius” can say is “Trump Did It”. What an idiot. Clueless as to how everybody hates him.



    1 hour ago
    He was nothing

    blackarab barry gave him hundreds of millions of tax dollars to kill retail for others

    and NASA



    godiva chocolate
    53 minutes ago
    And he was an idiot to have not looked at his inner circle before accusing Trump.



    51 minutes ago
    Bezos leaves lots of things uncovered!



    1 hour ago
    Ms. Sánchez shared the **** pics with her brother. It’s a family affair, maybe even a tradition. Or just a sleazy Hollywood thing. Bozo’s wife has to be laughing.

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