The Ulster Women’s War of Words 2: Lendabair
In “Fled Bricrenn 1: The Feasting Hall“, we discussed the so-called Ulster Women’s War of Words. This is where the partners of the three contending heroes take turns to boast of their own greatness as well as that of their men-folk.
Here is the second of these poetic weapons, here weilded by Lendabair, partner to Conall Cernach.
The text is taken from the Codex Vossianius version of Fled Bricrenn. You can read George Henderson’s translation (based on the Lebor na hUidre version) here. It is marked as Section 23 in both versions.
You can listen to Isolde reading the Old Irish and her translation here:
§23 Isbert Lendubair ingen Eogain maic Derthacht, ben Connaill Cernaig maic Aimergin
Lendabair, daughter of Eogan the son of Derthacht, wife of Conall the Victorious, the son of Amergin:
“Roscad” – marks a passage of non-syllabic alliterative poetry
Ar is mesi cruth cell congraim
For I am a body of intelligent bearing
coblethar ceimb crut cain curcastai
My shapely step celebrated, graceful as reeds,
a tech medrach Medquartai righ ria mnaib Ulad.
From the kingly, intoxicating Mead-Circling Hall, before the women of Ulster.
Ar is mo celi coem Conull coscurach credmaír
For victorious, great-chested Conall is my beloved partner,
coblethar cem n-ard nadguidhe
[whose] high inspiring stride is celebrated [lit. “feasted”]
i nuchtai ergal errind ria cach.
Pre-eminent in bursting breasts before all.
Cain tinnta cucum co cernaib co cennaib
Cleanly cut for me with warriors, with heads / cheifs,
con rucai calcae cruaidii comraicthi Ulad.
bearing hard lances, acclaimed [by the] Ulaid.
Arsaidh cech nath
He guards every ford
conid dia tul targlai
which is why he is [called] “head-most of hostings”.
arslaith a natha
He cuts down their fords
arfich a ngresae
He defeats their assaults
commaich laeich ar a bi lecht líac
Shattering heroes who [now] underlie grave-stones
laimethar mac ain Aimirgin acollaim.
This splendid son of Amergin dares a declaration.
Ar is Connall ar lin a cern
For it is Conall, with his compliment of warriors,
cingius ria cech laech.
Who strides before every hero.
Qid na budsi an Lendobair-si
Why should not this Lendabair,
li sulaie caich
The delight of every eye,
[NOTE: “lí súla”, “delight / lustre of the eye”, is one of the so-called kennings of the Ogam letter Luis. It is a phrase often used in poetry.]
cichsid ria cech mnai a tech ricc?
Step before every woman into the kingly [?] house?