Looking for a Poem about Columba

Oct 2014
California, USA
So, first, this is just for my own interest, not for school. In the Wikipedia entry about Columba it said "Another early source is a poem in praise of Columba, most probably commissioned by Columba's kinsman, the King of the Uí Néill clan. It was almost certainly written within three or four years of Columba's death and is the earliest vernacular poem in European history. It consists of 25 stanzas of four verses of seven syllables each." (And of course, next to this section it said "citation needed"...so I have no source to look this up).

Anyone know where I can find a copy of this poem? (or if it was ever translated to modern English...if it was the "earliest vernacular poem in European history" you think it would be somewhere. Thanks!

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
The poem you are after was written by Eochaid Mac Colla circa 597. He was also known as Dallan Forgaill and Saint Dallan. It is called Elegy for Colum Cille.

You can probably find a rubbishy translation online for free, but a good, modern English translation can be found in Thomas Owen Clancy's fine work, The Triumph Tree: Scotland's Oldest Poetry AD 550-1350 (Edinburgh, 1998), 102. Clancy is extremely good at not only translating this type of material, but doing so in a way which preserves the resonance of the poetry.

It is unlikely to be the earliest vernacular poem in European history, but it is certainly one of the earliest post-Roman works to have survived from Britain.