Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race
Page: 106Rolls the voices of the eras down the echoing steeps of Time.’
“Not till all was thrice related, thrice recital full essay'd,
Sad and shamefaced, worn and faded, Murgen sought the faithful maid.
‘Ah, so haggard; ah, so altered; thou in life and love so strong!’
‘Dearly purchased,’ Murgen falter'd, ‘life and love I've sold for song!’
“ ‘Woe is me, the losing bargain! what can song the dead avail?’
‘Fame immortal,’ murmur'd Murgen, ‘long as lay delights the Gael.’
‘Fame, alas! the price thou chargest not repays one virgin tear.’
‘Yet the proud revenge I've purchased for my sire, I deem not dear.’
“ ‘So,again to Gort the splendid, when the drinking boards were spread,
Sanchan, as of old attended, came and sat at table-head.
‘Bear the cup to Sanchan Torpest: twin gold goblets, Bard, are thine,
If with voice and string thou harpest, Tain-Bo-Cuailgne, line for line.’
“ ‘Yea, with voice and string I'll chant it. Murgen to his father's knee
Set the harp: no prelude wanted, Sanchan struck the master key,
And, as bursts the brimful river all at once from caves of Cong,
Forth at once, and once for ever, leap'd the torrent of the song.
“Floating on a brimful torrent, men go down and banks go by:
Caught adown the lyric current, Guary, captured, ear and eye,
Heard no more the courtiers jeering, saw no more the walls of Gort,
Creeve Roe's meads instead appearing, and Emania's royal fort.
“Vision chasing splendid vision, Sanchan roll'd the rhythmic scene;
They that mock'd in lewd derision now, at gaze, with wondering mien
Sate, and, as the glorying master sway'd the tightening reins of song,
Felt emotion's pulses faster—fancies faster bound along.
“Pity dawn'd on savage faces, when for love of captive Crunn,
Macha, in the ransom-races, girt her gravid loins, to run
'Gainst the fleet Ultonian horses; and, when Deirdra on the road
Headlong dash'd her 'mid the corses, brimming eyelids overflow'd.
“Light of manhood's generous ardour, under brows relaxing shone,
When, mid-ford, on Uladh's border, young Cuchullin stood alone,
Maev and all her hosts withstanding:— ‘Now, for love of knightly play,
Yield the youth his soul's demanding; let the hosts their marchings stay,
“'Till the death he craves be given; and, upon his burial stone
Champion-praises duly graven, make his name and glory known;
For, in speech-containing token, age to ages never gave
Salutation better spoken, than, “Behold a hero's grave.”’
“What, another and another, and he still or combat calls?
Ah, the lot on thee, his brother sworn in arms, Ferdia, falls;
And the hall with wild applauses sobb'd like woman ere they wist,
When the champions in the pauses of the deadly combat kiss'd.
“Now, for love of land and cattle, while Cuchullin in the fords
Stays the march of Connaught's battle, ride and rouse the Northern Lords;
Swift as angry eagles wing them toward the plunder'd eyrie's call,
Thronging from Dun Dealga bring them, bring them from the Red Branch hall!
“Heard ye not the tramp of armies? Hark! amid the sudden gloom,