King and Hermit from Songs of Nature translated by Kuno Myer 1901

King and Hermit from Songs of Nature translated by Kuno Myer 1901
Marvan, brother of King Guare of Connaught in the seventh century, renounced the life of a Warrior- Prince for that of a hermit. The King endeavoured to persuade his brother to return to his court, and the following colloquy took place.

Why, hermit Marvan, sleepest thou not
Upon a feather quilt?
Why rather sleepest though abroad
Upon a pitch pine floor?


I have a shieling in the wood,
None knows it save my God:
An Ash-tree on the hither side, Hazel bush beyond,
Huge old tree encompasses it.

Two heath -clad doorposts for support,
And a lintel of honeysuckle:
The forest around its narrowness sheds
It’s mast upon fat swine.

The size of my shieling tiny, not too tiny.
Many are its familiar paths:
From its gable sweet strain sings
A she-bird in her cloak of the ousel’s hue.

The stags of Oakridge leap
Into the river of clear banks:
Thence red Roiny can be seen,
Glorious Muckraw and Moinmoy.

A hiding mane green-barked yew
Supports the sky:
Beautiful spot! the large green of an oak
Fronting the storm.

A tree of apples-great its bounty!
Like a hostel, vast!
A pretty bush, thick as a fist, of tiny hazel-nuts,
A green mass of branches.

A choice pure spring and princely water
To drink:
There spring watercress, yew berries,
Ivy- bushes thick as a man.
Around it tame swine laydown.
Goats, pigs.
Wild swine, grazing dear,
A badger’s brood.

A peaceful troop, a heavy host of denizens of the soil,
A-trysting at my house:
To meet them foxes come,
How delightful

Fairest princes come to my house,
A ready gathering:
Pure water, perennial bushes,
Salmon, trout.

A bush of rowan, black sloes,
Dusky blackthorns,
Plenty of food, acorns, pure berries,
Bare flags.

A clutch of eggs, honey, delicious mast,
God has sent it:
Sweet apples, red whortleberries,
And blueberries.

Ale with herbs, a dish of strawberries
Of good taste and colour,
Haws, berries of the Juniper,
Sloes, nuts.

A cup with mead of hazel-nuts, blue- bells,
Quick growing rushes,
Dun oaklets, manes of briar,
Goodly sweet tangle.

When brilliant summer-time spreads its coloured mantle,
Sweet-tasting fragrance!
Pignuts, wild marjoram, green leeks,
Verdant pureness!

The music of the bright red-breasted men,
A lovely movement!
The strain of the thrush, familiar cuckoos
Above my house.

Swarms of bees and chafers, the little musicians of the world,
A gentle chorus:
Wild geese and ducks, shortly before summer’s end,
The music of the dark torrent.

An active songster, a lively wren
From hazel-bough,
Beautiful hooded birds, woodpeckers,
A vast multitude!

Fair white birds come, herons, Seagulls
The cuckoo sings between-
No mournful music! Dun heathpoults
Out of the russet of Heather.

The lowing of heifers in summer,
Brightest of seasons!
Not bitter, toilsome over the fertile plain,
Delightful, smooth.

The voice of the wind against the branchy wood
Upon the deep-blue sky:
Falls of the river, note of the swan,
Delicious music.

The bravest the band make cheer to me,
Who have not been hire:
In the eyes of Christ the ever young I am no worse off
Than thou art.

Though thou rejoicest in thy own pleasures,
Greater than any wealth:
I am grateful for what is given me
from my good Christ.

Without an hour of fighting, without the din of strife
In my house.
Grateful to the prince who giveth every good
To me in my shieling.

King Guare
I would give my glorious kingship
With the share of my father’s heritage-
To the hour of my death I would forfeit it
To be in thy company, my Marvan .


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