Page images
PDF
EPUB

birds, Vine among trees, Sun among stars. This is the father of that holy virgin, the Heavenly Father: this is her son, Jesus Christ : this is her fosterer, the Holy Ghost: wherefore this holy virgin performs the great marvels and the innumerable miracles.

It is she that helpeth every one who is in a strait and in danger: it is she that abateth the pestilences: it is she that quelleth the anger and the storms of the sea. She is the prophetess of Christ: she is the Queen of the South: she is the Mary of the Gael.

It is Colomb Cille that made this hymn for Brigit, and in the time of Aed, son of Ainmire, he made it. And this was the cause of making it. A great storm came to Colomb Cille when he went over the sea, and he chanced to be in Corryvreckan, and he entreated Brigit that a calm might come to him, and said, Brigit bith maith.1

Or it is Brocan Cloen that made it, and it was made at the same time as Ni char Brigit buadach bith.?

Or it is three of Brigit's household that made it when they went to Rome, and reached Placentia. And a man of the people of the city came to them outside and asked them whether they needed guesting. They said that they did. Then he brought them with him to his house, and they met a student who had come from Rome, and who asked them, whence they had come and why they had come. They said that it was for guesting.

“ That is a pity,” said he, “for this man's custom is to kill his guests;" and they asked that through the students' teaching. So poison was given them in ale; and they praised Brigit that she might save them, and they sang Brigit bith maith, etc. They drank the ale with the poison, and it did them no harm. So the man of the house came to see whether the poison had killed them. And he beheld them alive, and he beheld a comely maiden amongst them. Thereafter he came into the house, and was seeking the maiden, and found her not, and he asked them: “Why has the maiden gone?And they said that they had not seen her at all. So a chain was put upon them that they might be killed on the morrow unless they would disclose the maiden. So the same student came to them on the morrow to visit them, et inuenit eos in uinculis, et interrogauit eos quomodo euaserunt et cur ligatisunt.

1 Brigit. maith, Brigit, maiden of the good life. 2 Ni ... bith, virtuous Brigit did not love the world.

Or it may be Brenainn that made this hymn. Now Brenainn came to Brigit to know why the monster in the sea had given honor to Brigit beyond the other saints. So when Brenainn reached Brigit, he asked her to confess in what wise she had the love of God. Said Brigit: “ Make thou, 0 cleric, thy confession first, and I will make mine thereafter.” Said Brenainn. “ From the day I entered devotion, I never went over seven furrows without my mind being on God." “Good is the confession," said Brigit. “Do thou now, 0 nun,” saith Brenainn, “make thy confession." “The Son of the Virgin knoweth,” saith Brigit, “ from the hour I set my mind on God, I never took it from Him.” “It seems to us, o nun," saith Brenainn,“ that the monsters are right, though they give honor to thee beyond us.”

Or it is Ultan of Ard Brecain that made this hymn for praise of Brigit. For he was of the Dál Conchubair, and so it was with Brigit's mother, Broichsech, daughter of Dall-bronach. In the time of the two sons of Aed Slaine itself was made. For it is they that slew Suibne, son of Colman the Great, on one hand of Ultan. (In Ard Brecain moreover) it was made :

“ Brigit, excellent woman, a flame, golden, delightful,
May (she), the sun dazzling, splendid, guide us to the eternal

Kingdom!
May Brigit save us beyond throngs of demons!
May she break before us (the) battles of every disease!

“ May she destroy within us our flesh's taxes,

The branch with blossoms, the mother of Jesus:
The true virgin, dear, with vast dignity;

May I be safe always, with my saint of Leinster! “ One of the columns of (the) Kingdom-with Patrick the pre-emi

nent,
The vesture over liga, the Queen of Queens!
Let our bodies after old age be in sackcloth:
With her grace may Brigit rain on us, free us.”

Many miracles and marvels in that wise the Lord wrought for Brigit. So many are they that no one could declare them, unless her own soul or an angel of God should come to declare them. Howbeit this is enough as a sample of them.

Now when it came to the ending days for Brigit, after founding and helping cells and churches and altars in abundance, after miracles and marvels whose number is as the sand of the sea, or stars of heaven, after charity and mercy, then came Nindid Pure-hand from Rome of Latium. The reason why he was called Nindid Pure-band was that he never put his hand to his side, when Brigit repeated a paternoster with him. And he gave communion and sacrifice to Brigit, who sent her spirit to Heaven. Her relics are on earth with honor and dignity and primacy, with miracles and marvels. Her soul is like a sun in the heavenly Kingdom among the choir of angels and archangels. And though great be her honor here at present, greater by far will it be, when she shall arise like a shining lamp in completeness of body and soul at the great assembly of Doomsday, in union with cherubim and seraphim, in re-union with the Son of Mary the Virgin, in the union that is nobler than any union, in the union of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

I beseech the mercy of High, Almighty God, through holy Brigit's intercession, may we all deserve that unity, may we attain it, may we dwell therein in sæcula.

LAMENT FOR KING IVOR. Place. The southwest coast of Ireland. Time.-The middle of the ninth century. Author.-The hereditary bard of a Kerry clan. Cause of making.–To lament his King, slain in battle with Danish Vikings. Thou golden sunshine in the peaceful day!

Thou livid lightning in the night of war!

Hearing the onrush of thy battle-car,
Who could endure to meet thee in the fray?

Who dared to see thine eyes aflame in fight,

Thou stormer through the whistling storm of darts?

Pourer of panic into heroes' hearts !
Our hope, our strength, our glory, our delight!

Thy soul is striding down the perilous road;

And, see, the ghosts of heathen whom thy spear

Laid low, arise and follow in their fear Him who is braver than their bravest god!

Why is thy soul surrounded by no more

Of thine adoring clansmen? “ You had been

Full worthy," wouldst thou answer, hadst thou seen The charge that drove the pirates from our shore.

But thou wast lying prone upon the sand,

Death-wounded, blind with blood, and gasping: “Go!

Two swords are somewhat; join the rest. I know Another charge will beat them from the land.”

So when the slaughter of the Danes was done,

We found thee dead-a-stare with sunken eyes

At those red surges, and bewailed by cries Of sea-mews sailing from the fallen sun.

We kissed thee, one by one, lamenting sore:

Men's tears have washed the blood-stain from thy brow

Thy spear and sword and our dear love hast thou; We have thy name and fame for evermore.

So sang the warriors to their clouded star,

King Ivor, as they heapt his cairn on high ;

A landmark to the sailor sailing by, A warning to the spoiler from afar.

KING AILILL'S DEATH.

From the Early Middle Irish.

I know who won the peace of God,

King Ailill, called “the Beardless Man;"
Who fought beyond the Irish Sea

All day against a Connaught clan.

His host was broken : as he fled

He muttered to his charioteer:
“Look back-the slaughter, is it red?

The slayers, are they drawing near?

The boy looks back. The west wind blows

Dead clansmen's hair against his face;

He heard the war-shout of his foes,

The death-cry of his ruined race.

The foes came darting from the height,

Like pine-trees down a flooded fall: Like heaps of hay in spate, his clan

Swept on or sank-he saw it all.

And spake: “ The slaughter is full red,

But we may still be saved by flight.” Then groaned the king: “No sin of theirs

Falls on my people here to-night:

“ No sin of theirs, but sin of mine,

For I was worst of evil kings; Unrighteous, wrathful, hurling down

To death or shame all weaker things.

“Draw rein, and turn the chariot round:

My face against the foeman bend; When I am seen and slain, mayhap

The slaughter of my tribe will end.”

They drew, and turned. Down came the foe,

The king fell cloven on the sod; The slaughter then was stayed, and so

King Ailill won the peace of God.

MAN OCTIPARTITE.

From the Middle Irish.

Thus sang

the

sages of the Gael A thousand years ago well-nigh:

“ Hearken how the Lord on high Wrought man, to breathe and laugh and wail, To hunt and war, to plow and sail,

To love and teach, to pray and die!”

Then said the sages of the Gael:

“Of parcels eight was Adam built. The first was earth, the second sea, The third and fourth were sun and cloud,

« PreviousContinue »