Wednesday, March 06, 2013


Caílte's Song

Tales of the Elders of Ireland. A New Translation of Acallam na Senórach by Ann Dooley and Harry Roe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 107:
Cold winter, a sharp wind, a fierce red stag rises.
No warmth this night on the mountain. The stag is swift to bell.

The stag of Slieve Aughty takes no rest,
Listening to the music of wolves.

Dark Díarmait and I, and Oscar, keen and light,
Heard their music on a freezing night.

Well sleeps the stag in his lair,
Shielded against the very cold night.

Today I am old, I know but few.
On icy mornings I shook my spear.

I thank the King of Heaven above,
That I held a host, though tonight I'm cold.
In line 2, "bell" is "bellow, roar, make a loud noise...spec. of the voice of deer in rutting time" (Oxford English Dictionary).

The same, tr. Gerald Murphy in Early Irish Lyrics: Eighth to Twelfth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956), p. 155 (I can't guarantee the accuracy of all of this, as I can only see bits of it in Google Books' snippet view):
Winter is cold; the wind has risen; the fierce stark-wild stag arises; not warm tonight is the unbroken mountain, even though the swift stag be belling.

The stag of Slievecarran of the assemblies does not lay his side to the ground; the stag of the head of cold Aughty listens likewise to wolf-music.

I Caoílte, and brown-haired Díarmait, and keen light Oscar, used to listen to wolf-music at the end of a very cold night.

Well, forsooth, sleeps the brown stag pressing his hide to Corran¹s earth as though he were beneath the water of the Tuns at the end of a truly cold night!

Today I am old and aged; few men do I recognize; I used to brandish a pointed spear hardily on a morning of truly cold ice.

I thank the King of Heaven, Son of the Virgin Mary: often used I to still armies, though I be tonight very cold.
The same, tr. Kenneth Jackson in Studies in Early Celtic Nature Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1935; rpt. 2011), pp. 17-18:
Cold is the winter, wind has risen,
the vehement wanton stag arises;
not warm to-night is the whole mountain
though the ardent stag is belling.

The stag of Sliabh Cairn of the assemblies
does not lay his side to the ground,
the stag of the crest of cold Echtge
listens not less to the music of the wolf pack.

I, Caoilte, and brown Diarmaid,
and nimble Oscar,
used to hear the music of the wolf pack
at the end of the very cold night.

It is well sleeps the brown stag
with his body close to the sharp rock,
as if he were under Tonn Tuaighe
at the end of the very cold night.

To-day I am an aged old man,
I know but a few folk,
yet I used to brandish a pointed spear fiercely
on a cold icy morning.

I give thanks to the King of Heaven,
to the Son of Mary the Virgin,
I used to bring great silence on a host
though to-night I fare very coldly.
The same, tr. George Sigerson in Bards of the Gael and Gall: Examples of the Poetic Literature of Erinn, Done into English after the Metres and Modes of the Gael (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907), p. 146:
Chill the winter, cold the wind,
Up the stag springs, stark of mind:
Fierce and bare the mountain fells—
But the brave stag boldly bells.

He will not set side to rest
On Sliav Carna's snowy breast;
Echta's stag, also rousing,
Hears wail of wolves carousing.

Cailté I, and Diarmid Donn,
Oft, with Oscar apt to run,
When piercing night was paling,
Heard rousing wolves a-wailing.

Sound may sleep the russet stag,
With his hide hid in the crag;
Him, hidden, nothing aileth
When piercing night prevaileth.

I am aged now and gray,
Few of men I meet this day;
But I hurled the javelin bold
Of a morning, icy cold.

Thanks unto the King of Heaven,
And the Virgin's son be given:
Many men have I made still,
Who this night are very chill.
The same, tr. Standish H. O'Grady in Silva Gadelica (I.-XXXI.) A Collection of Tales in Irish, with Extracts Illustrating Persons and Places (London: Williams and Norgate, 1892), p. 192 (square brackets in original):
Cold the winter is, the wind is risen, the high-couraged unquelled stag is on foot: bitter cold to-night the whole mountain is, yet for all that the ungovernable stag is belling. The deer of Slievecarn of the gatherings commits not his side to the ground; no less than he the stag of frigid Echtge's summit catches the chorus of the wolves. I, Caeilte, with brown Dermot and with keen light-footed Oscar: we too in the nipping night's waning end would listen to the music of the pack. But well the red deer sleeps that with his hide to the bulging rock lies stretched—hidden as though beneath the country's surface—all in the latter end of chilly night. To-day I am an aged ancient, and but a scant few men I know; once on a time though in the cold and ice-bound morning I used to vibrate a sharp javelin hardily. To Heaven's King I offer thanks, to Mary Virgin's Son as well; often and often I imposed silence on [i.e. daunted] a whole host whose plight to-night is very cold [i.e. they are all dead now].
Original, from Irische Texte, edd. W.H. Stokes and E. Windisch, 4. Ser., 1. Heft (Lepizig: S. Hirzel, 1900), p. 100:
Is fuar geimred, atracht gaeth . eirgid dam discir dergbaeth,
ní te anocht in sliab slan . gé beth dam dian ic dordan.
Ní thabair a tháeb re lár . dam tsleibe cairnn na comdál,
ní lugha atchluin céol cúaine . dam chind Echtgi indfuaire.
Missi, ar Cailte, ar is Diarmaid donn . ocus Oscur aithédrom
ro chloisdis re ceol cuaine . dered áidchi adhuaire.
As maith chodlus in dam donn . fuil is a chnes re coronn,
mar do beth fá thuind tuaidhi . deiredh oidche indfuaire.
Aniu isam senóir sen . ni aithnim acht becán fer,
ro chraithinn corrsleig co cruaidh . a maduin oighridh innfuair.
Atlochar do ríhg nime . do Mac Muire inghine
dobeirinn mór sochd ar sluag . ge ber anocht co hadfuar.

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