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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Morrigan's Battle Incitement from the Tain Bo Cuiligne

Today's translation installment is a look at an incitement by the Morrigan towards the end of the Tain Bo Cuiligne. She appears to incite what will be the final confrontation between the two armies of Ulster and Connacht. 

Gleoud in chatha
Is hí inn aidchi sin ra dechaid in Morrígu ingen Ernmaiss, go m-bái oc indloch, ocus oc etarchossait eter na da dúnad chechtarda. Acus rabert-si na briathra sa:
Crennait brain
braigte fer
brunnid [fer] fuil.
Feochair cath
mescthair tuind.
Fadbaib luind.
Faib imthuill
lúth fiansa
fethal ferda
fir Chruachna
Cuirther cath
bha chossaib aráile.
Ebhlatt ar réim.
Bochin Ultu
bhómair Érno.
Bhochin Ulto.
. . . .
Issed dobert i cluáis n-Erand
Ni firfet anhglé
fail for a cind.
(Windisch, 1905)

 Windisch, E., (1905). Tain Bo Cualgne

Settling the Battle
  It was in the edge of the night that the Morrigan daughter of Ernmas turned her attention to something deceptive and divisive, and looked to stirring strife between the two separate encampments. Near there she said this spell:
Ravens devour
throats of men
men's blood flows.
Severe battle
attacking flesh.
Violent spoils. 
Sides swelling
furious combat
deceitful thrashing
powerful warriors
appearance of virility
men of Cruachan
shattering dignity.
Inviting battle
death marching together.
They will shout.
Cow-plundered Ulster
Cow in the possession of Erna
Cow-plundered Ulster
   - - - 
this is what she put in Erna's ear*
Something done without goodness
in the place of their settlement

*this line alternately may read "this is the evil trick in Erna's ear", depending on whether we take dobert as a form of do-beir, puts, sets, places - which it could be - or whether we see it as dobert an evil trick or evil practice. 

For comparison, and to illustrate why I feel it's important to work on new translations of these texts, this is Joseph Dunn's 1914 translation of the same passage, you'll see there are significant differences in some places:
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
The necks of men!
Blood shall gush
In combat wild!
Skins shall be hacked
Crazed with spoils!
Men's sides pierced
In battle brave,
Luibnech near!
Warriors' storm;
Mien of braves;
Cruachan's men!
Upon them comes
Ruin complete!
Lines shall be strewn
Under foot;
Their race die out!
Then Ulster hail:
To Erna woe!
To Ulster woe:
Then Erna hail!
(This she said in Erna's ear.)
Naught inglorious shall they do
Who them await!"

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