Monday, 8 September 2008


I loved the noble way you blushed,

and loved your fine, perfect form.
I loved your clear blue eye,
your way of speech, your skillfulness.

Ferdiad of the hosts and the hard blows,
beloved golden brooch,
I mourn your conquering arm
and our fostering together.

You were a sight

to please a prince;
your gold-rimmed shield,
your slender sword.

The ring of bright silver

on your fine hand,
your skill at chess,
your flushed, sweet cheek,

Your curled yellow hair

like a lovely jewel,
the leaf-shaped belt
you wore at your waist.

You fell to the Hound,

and I mourn, little calf.
The shield didn't save you
that you brought to the fray.

Shameful our struggle,

the grief and uproar!
O fair, fine hero
who shattered armies
and crushed them under foot,
golden brooch, I mourn.

'Tis the lament of the greatest Irish hero that had ever lived, Cú Chulainn, to his dearest friend and brother of the heart, Ferdiad. As youths, Cú Chulainn and Ferdiad formed a deep and loving bond. Years later, and after long separation, they were pitted in battle against each other by the machinations of Medb of Connacht. They fought for three days, each night Cú Chulainn sent Ferdiad leeches and herbs to heal his wounds, while Ferdiad sent him a share of his own meal. Then on the fourth day, Cú Chulainn calls on his mysterious weapon, the gáe bolga (lightning spear), and Ferdiad was killed. Cú Chulainn mourned him in these words.

Many may have forgotten you, Great Gael. But I have not. May Macha the Terrible curse all those who dare mock your love.

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