Map of Ireland

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INTRODUCTION IN VERSE



When to an Irish court of old
Came men, who flocked from near and far To hear the ancient tale that told
Cuchulain's deeds in Cualgne's War;

Oft, ere that famous tale began,
Before their chiefest bard they hail, Amid the throng some lesser man
Arose, to tell a lighter tale;

He'd fell how Maev and Ailill planned Their mighty hosts might best be fed, When they towards the Cualgne land
All Irelands swarming armies led;

How Maev the youthful princes sent
To harry warlike Regamon,
How they, who trembling, from her went, His daughters and his cattle won;

How Ailill's guile gained Darla's cows, How vengeful fairies marked that deed; How Fergus won his royal spouse
Whose kine all Ireland's hosts could feed;

How, in a form grotesque and weird, Cuchulain found a Power Divine;
Or how in shapes of beasts appeared The Magic Men, who kept the Swine;

Or how the rowan's guardian snake
Was roused by order of the king;
Or how, from out the water, Fraech
To Finnabar restored her ring.

And though, in greater tales, they chose Speech mired with song, men's hearts to sway, Such themes as these they told in prose, Like speakers at the "Feis" to-day.

To men who spake the Irish tongue
That form of Prose was pleasing well, While other lands in ballads sung
Such tales as these have loved to tell:

So we, who now in English dress
These Irish tales would fain
And seek their spirit to express,
Have set them down in ballad verse;

And, though to Celts the form be strange, Seek not too much the change to blame; 'Tis but the form alone we change;
The sense, the spirit rest the same.








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Map of Ireland