Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Watching a Friend Struggle with Psychological Suffering

Someone I know well is in the middle of terrible psychological suffering. It's a mix of suffering over the loss of a marriage mixed up with terrible anxiety and insomnia. He is frantic, calling family members constantly, and calling his doctor to the point where the doctor is angry. In the past week or so he has been prescribed some medicines to help him through this crisis, but they don't seem to be working--at least not yet.

We have given him the best advice that we can think of (and much of this advice comes from people who themselves have gone through anxiety, sleeplessness, or depression). We are at the point where we don't know what else to do.

It seems that helping others in pain we must walk a fine balance between helping too much and not enough. If we help too much, we abet the weakness of the sufferer and don't allow him to grow through the experience; if we don't help enough, we risk terrible tragedy.

Hard as it is to say, it seems we sometimes need to allow people to suffer some. They need to see that they have the strength within to overcome troubles and to handle pain. What is the balance? When do we help? And when do we stand by to encourage them to help themselves?

What my friend doesn't seem to know is that this suffering will end; he will overcome and become stronger; he will be happy again, find new love again.

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Translation of the Roman Missal for Catholic Masses

Yesterday marked the first use of the new English translation of the Roman Missal in Catholic masses. My initial impression is less than positive, even though I loved the pre-Vatican II Catholic mass as said in Latin. I was an altar boy and knew the Latin responses by heart. I also studied Latin in high school, so you might expect me to love this somewhat literal translation of the new missal.


As a translation, the new missal seems to be way off the mark. It does not translate Latin into idiomatic American English--by any reasonable standard. It uses words, idioms, and phrasings that we simply don't use. A great example is the use of the word "consubstantial," which is substituted for "one in substance" in the Nicene Creed. I've never heard anyone use that word, but now some friends, family, and I throw it around like a two-bit word just as a joke.

Also in the creed they repeatedly use the word "I" instead of the word "we." Now this may be a more exact translation of the original Nicene Creed, but to me it's a kind of loss since the creed is a community prayer and Catholicism is a community religion, not, as in some forms of Protestantism, a religion of isolated individuals seeking salvation. We Catholics are like Jews--we are in this business together! "We believe in one God . . . ."

Any good poet can tell you that you can make the most beautiful and memorable and holy music with the simplest words, the language that the people speak every day. We don't need obscure words and syntax to elevate and mystify our belief in the Lord.

Monday, November 21, 2011

An Example of a Famous Macaronic Song: "Siuil a Run"

A long time ago I learned a macaronic song, consisting of English, Irish, and nonsense words, called "Siuil a Run." I remember singing it at Notre Dame parties (1966-1970) with Mike Gerrity and maybe Brian Wilson. At the time I had no idea there were Irish-Gaelic words in the song (the very title means, "Walk, My Love!" in Irish). The title is pronounced /SHOOL ah ROON/.

Macaronic songs and poems incorporate at least 2 languages, and sometimes more (see my attempt at a macaronic poem in the previous blog posting). Wikipedia give the following as the lyric to "Siuil a Run." In fact, there is no definite lyric but many variations:

I wish I was on yonder hill
'Tis there I'd sit and cry my fill
And every tear would turn a mill
Is go dté tú mo mhuirnín slán
Siúil, siúil, siúil a rúin
Siúil go socair agus siúil go ciúin
Siúil go doras agus éalaigh liom
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán
I'll sell my rock, I'll sell my reel
I'll sell my only spinning wheel
To buy my love a sword of steel
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán
I'll dye my petticoats, I'll dye them red
And round the world I'll beg my bread
Until my parents shall wish me dead
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán
I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
I wish I had my heart again
And vainly think I'd not complain
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán
But now my love has gone to France
to try his fortune to advance
If he e'er comes back 'tis but a chance
Is go dté tú mo mhúirnín slán
One translation of the Irish chorus is
Go, go, go my love
Go quietly and peacefully
Go to the door and flee with me
And may you go safely my dear.
A youtube performance by Clannad": http://youtu.be/4ZP-4B7kHqA

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Experimental Macaronic Poem

My Own Vida Loca 

Macaronic Poem (German, English, Irish, Latin, Spanish)

Mein verrueckt, wahnsinniges Leben
Ein Durcheinander of joys, Leiden, and chaos,
Unexpected, surprising Einsamkeit,
And even more surprising moments of Einigkeit und . . . sogar,

Liebe, Grá, Amor.

Lieber Gott, Mo Chara,
Shelter me under the shadow of your wings,
Hold me i mbos a láimhe thú

Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae
por favor!

Bob Coughlin 
November 22, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Irish Version of My Poem, "Northern Lights"

An Chaor Aduaidh

(translation of Bob Coughlin’s poem “Northern Lights” by Una Kimbrell)

Fógraigh an nuachtán gur tháinig said i láthair aréir.
Mar sprid i mo codladh sámh,
Ag lasadh an spéir thoir thuaidh timpeall Chardon,
Bileog daite ag dahmsa san oíche dubh,
An bhfeicfeadh mé na soilse seo choíche?
Tá Cuma aghaidh Dé orthu.
An splanc uaine ag luí na gréine,
Cat fíain sna coillte oíche,
Braithim mar Tomás,
“Lig dom mo lámha a chuir sna créachtaí no ní chreadfeadh mé é!”
Ó, a Chaor Aduaidh,
Aurorea Borealis,
Lig dom a dahmsa leat san oíche uaigneach geimhridh.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day

On this Veterans' Day I want to remember my Dad, Robert P. Coughlin, and his brothers, Bill, Jack, and Fran, all World War II vets (all survived the war, all now deceased, two of them very damaged in spirit by their service).

Also, my Uncles Dick and Don Fitzpatrick, also World War II vets, also damaged in spirit by the war.

And Tommy Fitzpatrick, my cousin, who died in Vietnam in 1969; my Notre Dame and Innsbruck classmate, Steve Shields, who died in Vietnam in 1972.

And Michelle Zaremba, my niece, who fought in Iraq, and has fought (successfully) some PTSD demons.

"Dear Lord, bring just and lasting peace to the World!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pictures of Mom, from 1940 to about 2000

Today would be my Mom's 88th birthday. My brother Kevin sent me these photos of Mom spanning almost 60 years. At the top, Mom and Kevin's visit to Ireland in the late 1990s; then Mom with Mary Ellen and Jimmy in the early 1960s in Euclid; next is Mom and Dad on their wedding day, August of 1947, in Willoughby; and finally, Mom with her brothers Skip (Fenton) and Don Fitzpatrick, circa 1940 in Cleveland (probably at Tarrymore Drive, off of Neff Road, near Lake Erie).

My Mother at Age 33 (May 5, 1957)

Here's a beautiful photo of my mother, Margaret Ann, probably taken at Susie Brock's First Communion party on May 5, 1957. Mom would have been 33 years old. No comment on the two bottles of beer in front of her! We'll say those belonged to Dick and Don Fitzpatrick!

The above blog entry was first published in March of 2011. I'll republish it today to honor my mother on what would be her 88th birthday.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Northern Lights" Poem in Irish-Gaelic: "Fainne ó Thuaidh"

“Northern Lights” -- Fainne ó Thuaidh
by Bob Coughlin, translated into Irish by Paul Curran

Dúradh san nuachtán gur thaibhsigh siad aréir
Mar taibhse i mo chodlata sámh.
Las siad suas spéir na hoíche Baile Chardon
Le taipéisí damhsach datha san oíche dhubh

An mbeidh mé na soilse sin a fheiceáil riamh?
Tá sé mar a fhéachtar an aghaidh Dé
An splanc ghlas le luí na gréine
Cat fiáin san choill oíche

Is Tómas mé --
"Cuirim mo lámha isteach san creachta nó ní chréidim é!"

A Fhainne ó Thuaidh
Aurora Borealis
Lig dom rince leat a dheanamh
Oíche uaigneach éigin geimhridh

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Grady Sizemore--Thanks!

The Cleveland Indians have decided not to pick up their option for Grady Sizemore ($9 million/ year), thus ending his career in Cleveland.

Grady Sizemore played full-tilt boogie since coming to the club in 2004, and that has been his undoing. Can you say that an athlete played too hard, too intensely? That's what Grady did, and his magnificent defense, characterized by diving for balls and crashing into outfield walls, led to many injuries and five surgeries the past few years. Grady went from playing nearly every game from 2005 to 2008, to playing 106 games, 33 games, and 71 games in the past three years. Despite his injuries, Grady Sizemore didn't change the way he played.

The only other baseball player that I have seen to match Sizemore's intensity was Pete Rose. I got to watch him during the Big Red Machine years, one of baseball's greatest eras. Somehow Rose managed to stay healthy during his long career, despite the head-first slides and crashes into players and fences (I remember the crash at home plate into Ray Fosse in the 1970 All Star Game--Holy Toledo!).

I admire both of these athletes, Grady Sizemore and Pete Rose. That's how I played baseball and football. I gave it my all. Football seems more a game that fits this intense style. Baseball demands a level of relaxation--for hitting especially. It's amazing that Sizemore and Rose could be both intense and relaxed when necessary.

We will miss the likes of Grady Sizemore. A player of this talent and intensity comes along very rarely.

Here is a video clip of Pete Rose crashing into Ray Fosse:

An example of Grady Sizemore's defense: