Tuesday, December 01, 2015


A Hermit's Dwelling

King and Hermit: A Colloquy Between King Guaire of Aidne and His Brother Marban, Being an Irish Poem of the Tenth Century, Edited and Translated by Kuno Meyer (London: David Nutt, 1901), pp. 13 ff. (translation of stanzas 8-32; Marban the hermit speaking; footnotes and the Old Irish original omitted):
I have a shieling in the wood,
None knows it save my God:
An ash tree on the hither side, a hazelbush beyond,
A huge old tree encompasses it.

Two heath-clad doorposts for support,
And a lintel of honeysuckle:
The forest round its narrowness sheds
Its mast upon fat swine.

The size of my shieling tiny, not too tiny,
Many are its familiar paths:
From its gable a sweet strain sings
My lady in her cloak of the ousel's hue.

The stags of Oakridge leap
Into the river of clear banks:
Thence red Roigne can be seen,
Glorious Mucraime and Maenmag.

Hidden, lowly little abode,
Which has possession of ...,
To behold it will not be granted me,
Yet I shall be able to find its ...

A hiding mane of a green-barked yew-tree
    Which supports the sky:
Beautiful spot! the large green of an oak
    Fronting the storm.

A tree of apples — great its bounty!
    Like a hostel, vast:
A pretty bush, thick as a fist, of tiny hazelnuts,
    Branching, green.

A choice pure spring and princely water
    To drink:
There spring watercresses, yew-berries,
    Ivy-bushes of a man's thickness.

Around it tame swine lie down,
    Goats, pigs,
Wild swine, grazing deer,
    A badger's brood.

A peaceful troop, a heavy host of denizens of the soil,
    Atrysting at my house:
To meet them foxes come,
    How delightful!

18. Fairest princes come to my house.
    A ready gathering!
Pure water, perennial bushes,
    Salmon, trout.

A bush of rowan, black sloes,
    Dusky blackthorns,
Plenty of food, acorns, pure berries,
    Bare flags.

A clutch of eggs, honey, delicious mast,
    God has sent it:
Sweet apples, red whortle-berries,
    Berries of the heath.

Ale with herbs, a dish of strawberries,
    Of good taste and colour,
Haws, berries of the yew,
    Sloes, nuts.

A cup with mead of hazelnut, blue-bells,
    Quick-growing rushes,
Dun oaklets, manes of briar,
    Goodly sweet tangle.

When pleasant summertime spreads its coloured mantle,
    Sweet-tasting fragrance!
Pignuts, wild marjoram, green leeks,
    Verdant pureness!

The music of the bright redbreasted men,
    A lovely movement!
The strain of the thrush, familiar cuckoos
    Above my house.

Swarms of bees and chafers, the little musicians of the world,
    A gentle chorus:
Wild geese and ducks, shortly before summer's end,
    The music of the dark torrent.

An active songster, a lively wren
    From the hazelbough,
Beautiful hooded birds, woodpeckers,
    A vast multitude!

Fair white birds come, herons, seagulls,
    The cuckoo sings in between, —
No mournful music! — dun heathpoults
    Out of the russet heath.

The lowing of heifers in summer,
    Brightest of seasons!
Not bitter, toilsome over the fertile plain,
    Beautiful, smooth!

The voice of the wind against the branchy wood
    Upon the deep-blue sky:
Cascades of the river, the note of the swan,
    Delightful music!

The bravest band makes music to me,
    Who have not been hired:
In the eyes of Christ the ever-young I am no worse off
    Than thou art.

Though thou rejoicest in thy own pleasures,
    Greater than any wealth,
I am grateful for what is given me
    From my good Christ.

Without an hour of fighting, without the din of strife
    In my house,
Grateful to the Prince who giveth every good
    To me in my bower.

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