"The Hag of Beare." translated by Lady Augusta Persse Gregory (1852-1932)
IT is of Corca Dubhne she was, and she had her youth seven times over, and every man that had lived with her died of old age, and her grandsons and great-grandsons were tribes and races. And through a hundred years she wore upon her head the veil Cuimire had blessed. Then age and weakness came upon her and it is what she said:
Ebb-tide to me as to the sea; old age brings me reproach; I used to wear a shift that was always new; to-day, I have not even a cast one.
It is riches you are loving, it is not men; it was men we loved in the time we were living.
There were dear men on whose plains we used [Page 69] to be driving; it is good the time we passed with them; it is little we were broken afterwards.
When my arms are seen it is long and thin they are; once they used to be fondling, they used to be around great kings.
The young girls give a welcome to Beltaine when it comes to them; sorrow is more fitting for me; an old pitiful hag.
I have no pleasant talk; no sheep are killed for my wedding; it is little but my hair is grey; it is many colours I had over it when I used to be drinking good ale.
I have no envy against the old, but only against women; I myself am spent with old age, while women's heads are still yellow.
The stone of the kings on Feman; the chair of Ronan in Bregia; it is long since storms have wrecked them, they are old mouldering gravestones.
The wave of the great sea is speaking; the winter is striking us with it; I do not look to welcome to-day Fermuid son of Mugh. [Page 70]
I know what they are doing; they are rowing through the reeds of the ford of Alma; it is cold is the place where they sleep.
The summer of youth where we were has been spent along with its harvest; winter age that drowns everyone, its beginning has come upon me.
It is beautiful was my green cloak, my king liked to see it on me; it is noble was the man that stirred it, he put wool on it when it was bare.
Amen, great is the pity; every acorn has to drop. After feasting with shining candles, to be in the darkness of a prayer-house.
I was once living with kings, drinking mead and wine; to-day I am drinking whey-water among withered old women.
There are three floods that come up to the dun of Ard-Ruide: a flood of fighting-men, a flood of horses, a flood of the hounds of Lugaidh's son.
The flood-wave and the two swift ebb-tides; [Page 71] what the flood-wave brings you in, the ebb-wave sweeps out of your hand.
The flood-wave and the second ebb-tide; they have all come as far as me, the way that I know them well.
The flood-tide will not reach to the silence of my kitchen; though many are my company in the darkness, a hand has been laid upon them all.
My flood-tide! It is well I have kept my knowledge. It is Jesus Son of Mary keeps me happy at the ebb-tide.
It is far is the island of the great sea where the flood reaches after the ebb: I do not look for floods to reach to me after the ebb-tide.
There is hardly a little place I can know again when I see it; what used to be on the flood-tide is all on the ebb to-day!