Story Archaeology

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Fair Lady, Will You Go With Me?

Stephen Reid, Midir and Étaín rise up in the air


from Tochmarc Étaíne, “The Wooing of Étaín”, ed. Osborne Bergin and R. I. Best

poetic translation by Isolde ÓBrolcháin Carmody


A Bé Find, in rega lim

Fair Lady, will you come with me

i dtír n-ingnad hi fil rind?

To a wonder-land of harmony

Is barr sobairce folt and;

Hair shines with a primrose glow

Is dath snechtai [& for] corp [slim /] co [fh]ind.

Body smooth and white as snow.


Is and nád bí muí ná taí,

There, is neither mine nor yours,

gela dét and; dubai [a] braí;

Teeth bright white, dark the brows.

is lí súla lín ar slúag

The eye’s delight our populace

is dath sion and cech grúad

Each cheek bears a foxglove blush


Is corcur maige [/ muighi] cech muin;

The heather’s bloom on every neck

Is lí súla ugae luin;

Eyes shine blue as blackbrids’ eggs,

cid caín déicsiu Maige Fáil

Though you love to gaze on Ireland

annam íar n-gnáis Maige Máir.

It palls after visiting the Great Land.


Cid [mesc /] caín lib coirm Inse Fáil

Though sweet you deem your Irish beer

is mescu coirm Tíre Máir.

Our mirthful mead is sweeter far.

amra tíre tír as-biur;

It is a wonder, truth be told,

ní tét oac and ré siun.

Young do not die there before old.


Srotha téithmilsi tar tír,

The land flows with streams,both warm and sweet

rogu de mid ocus fhín,

The best of wine, the choicest mead.

doíni delgnaidi cen on

Marke the flawless folk therein,

combart cen peccad, cen chol.

conception without rape or sin.


Ad-chiam cách for cach leith,

While we watch your people teem,

ocus níconn-acci nech

We walk among you, still unseen.

teimel imorbais Ádaim

Dark the tragedy of Eden

dodon-aircheil ar áraim

That keeps our countless people hidden.


A ben, día rís mo thúaith tind

Woman, join my noble folk

is barr óir bias fort [chind]

Your head shall bear a crown of gold

[muc úr/] mil fín, laith, lemnacht la lind

Pools of milk, mead, ale and wine

rot-bía lim and, a Bé Find.

We shall drink there, my Bé Find.


a. B. é. F.

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