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- Heroic Romances of Ireland Volume 2 - 20/27 -


dumb. Tell me now of thine own name, O woman." "Faebor-bayg-byeo-ill,"[FN#110] said the man. "Coom-diewr-folt-skayv-garry-skyeo-ooa is her name, if pronounce it you can!" Then Cuchulain sprang at the chariot: "Would ye make me a fool with your jest?" He cried, as he leapt at the woman; his feet on her shoulders he pressed, And he set on her head his spear-point: "Now cease from thy sharp weapon-play!" Cried the woman. Cuchulain made answer: Thy name to me truth fully say!" "Then remove thyself from me!" she answered: I am skilled in satirical spells; The man is called Darry I mac Feena[FN#111]: in the country of Cualgne[FN#112] he dwells; I of late made a marvellous poem; and as fee for the poem this cow Do I drive to my home." "Let its verses," said Cuchulain," be sung to me now!" "Then away from me stand!" said the woman: "though above me thou shakest thy spear, It will naught avail thee to move me." Then he left her, but lingered near, Between the poles of her chariot: the woman her song then sang; And the song was a song of insult. Again at the car he sprang, But nothing he found before him: as soon as the car he had neared, The woman, the horse, and the chariot, the cow, and the man disappeared.

[FN#110] Spelt Faebor-begbeoil-cuimdiuir-folt-seenb-gairit-sceo-uath.

[FN#111] Spelt Daire mac Fiachna: he is the owner of the Dun of Cualgne in the Great Tain.

[FN#112] Pronounced Kell-ny.

At a bird on a bough, as they vanished, a glance by Cuchulain was cast, And he knew to that bird's black body the shape of the woman had passed: As a woman of danger I know you," he cried, "and as powerful in spell!" From to-day and for ever," she chanted, "this tale in yon clay-land shall dwell!" And her word was accomplished; that region to-day is the Grella Dolloo,[FN#113] The Clay-land of Evil: its name from the deeds of that woman it drew.

[FN#113] Spelt Grellach Dolluid.

"Had I known it was you," said Cuchulain, "not thus had you passed from my sight!" And she sang, "For thy deed it is fated that evil shall soon be thy plight!" Thou canst. do naught against me," he answered. "Yea, evil in sooth can I send; Of thy Bringer of Death I am guardian, shall guard it till cometh thine end: From the Under-world Country of Croghan this cow have I driven, to breed By the Dun Bull of Darry[FN#114] Mae Feena, the Bull that in Cualgne doth feed. So long as her calf be a yearling, for that time thy life shall endure; But, that then shall the Raid have beginning, the dread Raid of Cualgne, be sure."

[FN#114] Spelt Daire mac Fiachna.

"Nay, clearer my fame shall be ringing," the hero replied," for the Raid: All bards, who my deeds shall be singing, must tell of the stand that I made, Each warrior in fight shall be stricken, who dares with my valour to strive: Thou shalt see me, though battle-fields thicken, from the Tain Bo returning alive!"

"How canst thou that strife be surviving?" the woman replied to his song, "For, when thou with a hero art striving, as fearful as thou, and as strong, Who like thee in his wars is victorious, who all of thy feats can perform, As brave, and as great, and as glorious, as tireless as thou in a storm, Then, in shape of an eel round thee coiling, thy feet at the Ford I will bind, And thou, in such contest when toiling, a battle unequal shalt find."

"By my god now I swear, by the token that Ulstermen swear by," he cried; "On a green stone by me shall be broken that eel, to the Ford if it glide: From woe it shall ne'er be escaping, till it loose me, and pass on its way!" And she said: "As a wolf myself shaping, I will spring on thee, eager to slay, I will tear thee; the flesh shall be rended from thy chest by the wolf's savage bite, Till a strip be torn from thee, extended from the arm on thy left to thy right! With blows that my spear-shaft shall deal thee," he said, "I will force thee to fly Till thou quit me; my skill shall not heal thee, though bursts from thy head either eye!" I will come then," she cried, "as a heifer, white-skinned, but with ears that are red, At what time thou in fight shalt endeavour the blood of a hero to shed, Whose skill is full match for thy cunning; by the ford in a lake I will be, And a hundred white cows shall come running, with red ears, in like fashion to me:

As the hooves of the cows on thee trample, thou shalt test 'truth of men in the fight': And the proof thou shalt have shall be ample, for from thee thy head they shall smite!" Said Cuchulain: "Aside from thee springing, a stone for a cast will I take, And that stone at thee furiously slinging, thy right or thy left leg will break: Till thou quit me, no help will I grant thee." Morreegan,[FN#115] the great Battle Queen, With her cow to Rath Croghan departed, and no more by Cuchulain was seen. For she went to her Under-World Country: Cuchulain returned to his place. The tale of the Great Raid of Cualgne this lay, as a prelude, may grace.

[FN#115] Spelt Morrigan.

THE APPARITION OF THE GREAT QUEEN TO CUCHULAIN

LITERAL TRANSLATION

When Cuchulain lay in his sleep at Dun Imrid, there he heard a cry from the north; it came straight towards him; the cry was dire, and most terrifying to him. And he awaked in the midst of his sleep, so that he fell, with the fall of a heavy load, out of his couch,[FN#116] to the ground on the eastern side of his house. He went out thereupon without his weapons, so that he was on the lawns before his house, but his wife brought out, as she followed behind him, his arms and his clothing. Then he saw Laeg in his harnessed chariot, coming from Ferta Laig, from the north; and "What brings thee here?" said Cuchulain. "A cry," said Laeg, "that I heard sounding over the plains. "On what side was it?" said Cuchulain. "From the north-west it seemed," said Laeg, "that is, across the great road of Caill Cuan."[FN#117] "Let us follow after to know of it (lit. after it, to it for us)," said Cuchulain.

[FN#116] Or "out of his room." The word is imda, sometimes rendered "bed," as here by Windisch sometimes also "room," as in the Bruidne da Derga by Whitley Stokes.

[FN#117] Lough Cuan was the old name for Strangford Lough.

They went out thereupon till they came to Ath da Ferta. When they were there, straightway they heard the rattle of a chariot from the quarter of the loamy district of Culgaire. Then they saw the chariot come before them, and one chestnut (lit. red) horse in it. The horse was one footed, and the pole of the chariot passed through the body of the horse, till a wedge went through it, to make it fast on its forehead. A red[FN#118] woman was in the chariot, and a red mantle about her, she had two red eye-brows, and the mantle fell between the two ferta[FN#119] of her chariot behind till it struck upon the ground behind her. A great man was beside her chariot, a red[FN#120] cloak was upon him, and a forked staff of hazel at his back, he drove a cow in front of him.

[FN#118] The above is the Egerton text: the text of Y.B.L. gives "A red woman there, with her two eyebrows red, and her cloak and her raiment: the cloak fell," &c.

[FN#119] It is not known certainly what the ferta were: Windisch translates "wheels," but does not give this meaning in his Dictionary: the ferta were behind the car, and could be removed to sound the depth of a ford. It is suggested that they were poles, projecting behind to balance the chariot; and perhaps could be adjusted so as to project less or farther.

[FN#120] This is the Egerton text; the Y.B.L. text gives "a tunic forptha on him the meaning of forptha is unknown.

"That cow is not joyful at being driven by you!" said Cuchulain. "The cow does not belong to you," said the woman, "she is not the cow of any friend or acquaintance of yours." "The cows of Ulster," said Cuchulain, "are my proper (care)." "Dost thou give a decision about the cow?" said the woman; "the task is too great to which thy hand is set, O Cuchulain." "Why is it the woman who answers me?" said Cuchulain, "why was it not the man?" "It was not the man whom you addressed," said the woman. "Ay," said Cuchulain, "(I did address


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