Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race

Page: 124

Finn called his name Oisīn (Little Fawn), and he became a warrior of fame, but far more famous for the songs and tales that he made; so that of all things to this day that are told of the Fianna of Erin men are wont to say: “Thus sang the bard Oisīn, son of Finn.”

Oisīn and Niam

It happened that on a misty summer morning as Finn and Oisīn with many companions were hunting on the shores of Loch Lena they saw coming towards them a maiden, beautiful exceedingly, riding on a snow-white steed. She wore the garb of a queen; a crown of gold was on her head, and a dark-brown mantle of silk, set with stars of red gold, fell around her and trailed on the ground. Silver shoes were on her horse's hoofs, and a crest of gold nodded on his head. When she came near she said to Finn: “From very far away I have come, and now at last I have found thee, Finn son of Cumhal.”

Then Finn said: “What is thy land and race, maiden, and what dost thou seek from me?”

“My name,” she said, “is Niam of the Golden Hair. I am the daughter of the King of the Land of Youth, and that which has brought me here is the love of thy son Oisīn.” Then she turned to Oisīn, and she spoke to him in the voice of one who has never asked anything but it was granted to her.

“Wilt thou go with me, Oisīn, to my father's land?”

And Oisīn said: “That will I, and to the world's end”; for the fairy spell had so wrought upon his [pg 271] heart that he cared no more for any earthly thing but to have the love of Niam of the Head of Gold.

Then the maiden spoke of the Land Oversea to which she had summoned her lover, and as she spoke a dreamy stillness fell on all things, nor did a horse shake his bit, nor a hound bay, nor the least breath of wind stir in the forest trees till she had made an end. And what she said seemed sweeter and more wonderful as she spoke it than anything they could afterwards remember to have heard, but so far as they could remember it it was this: