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PAGE 26

Line 5. Following Windisch's suggestion, this poem has been placed here instead of the later place where it occurs in the text. This famous poem has been often translated; but as there appear to be points in it that have been missed, a complete literal rendering is appended:


O fair-haired woman, will you come with me into a marvellous land wherein is music (?); the top of the head there is hair of primrose, the body up to the head is colour of snow.

In that country is no "mine" and no "thine"; white are teeth there, black are eyebrows, the colour of the eyes is the number of our hosts, each cheek there the hue of the foxglove.

The purple of the plain is (on) each neck, the colour of the eyes is (colour of) eggs of blackbird; though pleasant to the sight are the plains of Fal (Ireland), they are a wilderness (7) for a man who has known the Great Plain.

Though intoxicating to ye the ale of the island of Fal, the ale of the Great Country is more intoxicating a wonder of a land is the land I speak of, a young man there goes not before an old man.

Stream smooth and sweet flow through the land, there is choice of mead and wine;
men handsome (?) without blemish,
conception without sin, without crime.

We see all on every side,
and yet no one seeth us,
the cloud of the sin of Adam it is
that encompasses us from the reckoning.

O woman, if thou wilt come to my strong people, it is top of head of gold shall be on thy head, unsalted pork, new milk and mead for drink shalt thou have with me there, O fair-haired woman.


Line 2. Hi fil rind. The meaning of rind (?) music) is uncertain.

Line 3. Is barr sobarche folt and. This line is often translated as "hair is wreathed with primrose": the image would be better, but it is not the Irish. Barr is "top of head," and folt is "hair."

Line 4. Is and nad bi mui na tai. Muisse is in old Irish the possessive of the first sing when followed by a noun it becomes mo, when not so followed it is mui; tai is also found for do. O'Curry gave this line as "there is no sorrow nor care."

Lines 7 and 10. Is li sula lin ar sluag and is li sula ugai luin are so similar that is li sula must mean the same in both, and cannot mean "splendour of eyes" in the first case unless it does so in the second. The idea in the first case seems to be that the hosts are reflected in the eyes; it is so rendered in the verse translation. A blackbird's egg has a blue ground, but is so thickly powdered with brown spots of all shapes that it looks brown at a distance. At first I was inclined to take the idea to be "hazel" eyes, but comparing line 7, it seems more likely that the idea is that all sorts of shapes appear in the pupil.

Line 12. The translation of annam as a "wilderness" is very doubtful, it more probably is "seldom"; and the line should be "seldom will it be so after knowledge of, &c."

Line 16. This has always been rendered "no youth there grows to old age." But the Irish is ni thecht oac and re siun, and re siun can only mean "before an old (man)." The sense possibly is, that as men do not become feeble with advancing years, the younger man has not the same advantage over his elders in the eyes of women that he has in this world.

Line 17. Teith millsi, "smooth and honey-sweet" (Meyer, MacCongl., p. 196).

Line 24. Compare a story of some magical pigs that could not be counted accurately (Revue Celtique, vol. xiii. p. 449).

Line 31. Muc ur, "unsalted pork"; see Glossary to Laws, p. 770; also MacConglinne (Kuno Meyer), p, 99.



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Map of Ireland