The Tain Bo Culaigne
The Decision of the Battle
It was on that night that the Morrigan, daughter of Ernmas, came, and she was
engaged in fomenting strife and sowing dissension between the two camps on
either side, and she spoke these words:
"Ravens shall pick
It was then that Cuchulain spake to Laeg son of Riangabair. "It would surely
be unworthy of thee, O Laeg my master," said Cuchulain, "if between the two
battle-lines there should happen anything to-day whereof thou hadst no tidings
for me." "Whatsoever I shall learn, O Cucucuc," answered Laeg, "will be told
thee. But, see yonder a little flock coming forth on the plain from the western
camp and station now. Behold a band of henchmen after them to check and to stay
them. Behold also a company of henchmen emerging from the eastern camp and
station to seize them." "Surely, that is so!" exclaimed Cuchulain. " That bodes
a mighty combat and is the occasion of a grand battle. The little flock will
come over the plain and the bands of henchmen will encounter the little flock on
the great field of battle." There, indeed, Cuchulain spoke true. And the little
flock came forth upon the plain, and the companies of henchmen met in fray.
The necks of men!
Blood shall gush
Skins shall be hacked
Crazed with spoils!
In battle brave,
Upon them comes
Their race die out!
Then Ulster hail:
To Ulster woe:
Then Erna hail!
(This she said in Erna's
Naught inglorious shall they do
Who them await!"
"Who gives the battle now, O Laeg my master," Cuchulain asked. "The folk of
Ulster," Laeg answered: "that is the same as the young warriors of Ulster." "But
how fight they?" Cuchulain asked. "Like men they fight," Laeg answered. "There
where are the heroes of valour from the east in battle, they force a breach
through the ranks to the west. There where are the heroes from the west, they
lay a breach through the ranks to the eastward."
"I grieve that I am not yet strong enough to be on my feet amongst them. For,
were I able to be on my feet amongst them, my breach would be manifest there
to-day like that of another!" "But, this avow, O Cucuc," said Laeg: "it is no
reproach to thy valour; it is no disgrace to thine honour. Thou hast done
bravely in time before now and thou wilt do bravely hereafter."
"Come, O my master Laeg!" cried Cuchulain; "rouse the men of Ulster to the
battle now, for it is time that they come." Laeg came and roused the men of
Ulster to battle, and he uttered these words there:
"Arise, ye kings of Macha,
Valiant in your deeds!
Blood of hearts pours out!
battle rushes in
With deeds of valour!
Hearts all red with
Brows turned in flight.
Dismay of battle riseth.
For there was
One like unto Cuchulain,
Hound that Macha's weal doth
If it is for Cualnge's kine,
Let them now