Gods and Fighting Men
And Oisin used to be making laments, and sometimes he would be making praises
of the old times and of Finn; and these are some of them that are remembered
I saw the household of Finn; it was not the household of a soft race; I had a
vision of that man yesterday.
I saw the household of the High King, he with the brown, sweet-voiced son; I
never saw a better man.
I saw the household of Finn; no one saw it as I saw it; I saw Finn with the
sword, Mac an Luin. Och! it was sorrowful to see it.
I cannot tell out every harm that is on my head; free us from our trouble for
ever; I have seen the household of Finn.
It is a week from yesterday I last saw Finn; I never saw a braver man. A king
of heavy blows; my law, my adviser, my sense and my wisdom, prince and poet,
braver than kings, King of the Fianna, brave in all countries; golden salmon of
the sea, clean hawk of the air, rightly taught, avoiding lies; strong in his
doings, a right judge, ready in courage, a high messenger in bravery and in
His skin lime-white, his hair golden; ready to work, gentle to women. His
great green vessels full of rough sharp wine, it is rich the king was, the head
of his people.
Seven sides Finn's house had, and seven score shields on every side. Fifty
fighting men he had about him having woollen cloaks; ten bright drinking-cups in
his hall; ten blue vessels, ten golden horns.
It is a good household Finn had, without grudging, without lust, without vain
boasting, without chattering, without any slur on any one of the Fianna.
Finn never refused any man; he never put away any one that came to his house.
If the brown leaves falling in the woods were gold, if the white waves were
silver, Finn would have given away the whole of it.
Blackbird of Doire an Chairn, your voice is sweet; I never heard on any
height of the world music was sweeter than your voice, and you at the foot of
The music is sweetest in the world, it is a pity not to be listening to it
for a while, O son of Calphurn of the sweet bells, and you would overtake your
If you knew the story of the bird the way I know it, you would be crying
lasting tears, and you would give no heed to your God for a while.
In the country of Lochlann of the blue streams, Finn, son of Cumhal, of the
red-gold cups, found that bird you hear now; I will tell you its story truly.
Doire an Chairn, that wood there to the west, where the Fianna used to be
delaying, it is there they put the blackbird, in the beauty of the pleasant
The stag of the heather of quiet Cruachan, the sorrowful croak from the ridge
of the Two Lakes; the voice of the eagle of the Valley of the Shapes, the voice
of the cuckoo on the Hill of Brambles.
The voice of the hounds in the pleasant valley; the scream of the eagle on
the edge of the wood; the early outcry of the hounds going over the Strand of
the Red Stones.
The time Finn lived and the Fianna, it was sweet to them to be listening to
the whistle of the blackbird; the voice of the bells would not have been sweet
There was no one of the Fianna without his fine silken shirt and his soft
coat, without bright armour, without shining stones on his bead, two spears in
his hand, and a shield that brought victory.
If you were to search the world you would not find a harder man, best of
blood, best in battle; no one got the upper hand of him. When be went out trying
his white hound, which of us could be put beside Finn?
One time we went hunting on Slieve-nam-ban; the sun was beautiful overhead,
the voice of the hounds went east and west, from hill to bill. Finn and Bran sat
for a while on the hill, every man was jealous for the hunt. We let out three
thousand hounds from their golden chains; every hound of them brought down two
Patrick of the true crozier, did you ever see, east or west, a greater hunt
than that hunt of Finn and the Fianna? O son of Calphurn of the bells, that day
was better to me than to be listening to your lamentations in the church.
There is no strength in my hands to-night, there is no power within me; it is
no wonder I to be sorrowful, being thrown down in the sorrow of old age.
Everything is a grief to me beyond any other man on the face of the earth, to
be dragging stones along to the church and the hill of the priests.
I have a little story of our people. One time Finn had a mind to make a dun
on the bald hill of Cuailgne, and he put it on the Fianna of Ireland to bring
stones for building it; a third on the sons of Morna, a third on myself, and a
third on the sons of Baiscne.
I gave an answer to Finn, son of Cumhal; I said I would be under his sway no
longer, and that I would obey him no more.
When Finn heard that, be was silent a long time, the man without a lie,
without fear. And he said to me then: "You yourself will be dragging stones
before your death comes to you."
I rose up then with anger on me, and there followed me the fourth of the
brave battalions of the Fianna. I gave my own judgments, there were many of the
Fianna with me.
Now my strength is gone from me, I that was adviser to the Fianna; my whole
body is tired to-night, my hands, my feet, and my head, tired, tired, tired.
It is bad the way I am after Finn of the Fianna; since he is gone away, every
good is behind me.
Without great people, without mannerly ways; it is sorrowful I am after our
king that is gone.
I am a shaking tree, my leaves gone from me; an empty nut, a horse without a
bridle; a people without a dwelling-place, I Oisin, son of Finn.
It is long the clouds are over me to-night! It is long last night was;
although this day is long, yesterday was longer again to me; every day that
comes is long to me!
That is not the way I used to be, without fighting, without battles, without
learning feats, without young girls, without music, without harps, without
bruising bones, without great deeds; without increase of learning, without
generosity, without drinking at feasts, without courting, without hunting, the
two trades I was used to; without going out to battle Ochone! the want of them
is sorrowful to me.
No hunting of deer or stag, it is not like that I would wish to be; no
leashes for our hounds, no hounds; it is long the clouds are over me to-night!
Without rising up to do bravery as we were used, without playing as we had a
mind; without swimming of our fighting men in the lake; it is long the clouds
are over me to-night!
There is no one at all in the world the way I am: it is a pity the way I am;
an old man dragging stones; it is long the clouds are over me to-night!
I am the last of the Fianna, great Oisin, son of Finn, listening to the voice
of bells; it is long the clouds are over me to-night!