Suibne and Èorann
Attributed to Suibne Geilt (Mad Sweeney) c. 1175CE
Now Èorann, who had been Suibne's wife, had by that
time married Gùaire son of Congal son of Scannlàn....And Suibne came to the
place where Èorann was. Gùaire had gone hunting that day... And the madman
settled on the lintel of the hut in which Èorann was, and spoke these words:
"Do you remember, girl", said he "the great love we had for each
other when we lived together? And now sleep and comfort are your lot" said
he, "and it is not so with me." Suibne then spoke as follows, and Èorann answered him:
Suibne: Sleep is your lot, lovely Èorann, committed to a
bet with your lover. It is not so here with me: long have I been restless.
Lightly great Èorann, did you say these pleasing
words, that you would not live were you be parted for a single day from Suibne.
Today it can be quickly seen that you set little
store by your old friend: you are warm on the good down of a bead; I am cold
without till morning.
Èorann: Welcome to you bright madman: you are my dearest of all men; though sleep be
its lot, my body is wasted since the day I heard you were as naught.
Suibne: Dearer to you is the king's son who leads you to the carefree banquet: he is
your chosen wooer; you seek not your old friend.
Èorann: Though the king's son should lead me to carefree banqueting-halls. I should
prefer to pass the night in the narrow hollow of a tree with you, O husband,
were it in my power.
Suibne: It were better for you to give love and affection to the husband who has you as
his one wife than to an uncouth famished dreadful fear inspiring wholly-naked
Èorann: Were my choice of all the men of Ireland and Scotland given me, I should prefer
to live blamelessly on water and cress with you.
Suibne: No path for a loved lady is that of Suibne here on the track of trouble: cold
are my beds at Ard Abla; my cold dwellings are not rare.
Èorann: It saddens me indeed, toiling madman, that you should be unsightly and in
distress; it grieves me hat your skin has changed its color and that briars and
thorn-bushes should tear you.
Suibne: I speak not to find fault with you, tender radiant gentle lady: Christ son of
Mary (mighty bondage), He it is who has brought me to wretchedness.
Èorann: I wish we could be together, in order that feathers might come over our bodies
and that I might roam through light and dark with you every day and every
Suibne: I have spent a night in Mourne of the pleasant sounds; I have traveled to the
lovely estuary of the Bann; I he roamed over Ireland to its limit; I have
visited the monastery of the grandson of Sùanach.
He had hardly
said those words when the host coming in from every direction filled the
encampment. He then rushed away in wild flight, as he had often done.
Source: Anonymous, c. 1175CE: Speech-poem within the prose
narrative of Buile Suibne (The Madness
This poem conveys the essence of
the tales of Mad Sweeney wounded at the battle of Mag
Rath (AD 637) made mad by the din of battle and destined to live wild in the
forest.( His counterpart in Welsh literature was Myrddin Wyllt (Mad Merlin).