Fionn Mac Cumhaill Sings of Beltane

The following is a poem attributed to one of the greatest Irish heroes, Fionn Mac Cumhaill, said to have been composed by him shortly after gaining the gift of poetry from the salmon of wisdom.

ire36May-day, season surpassing!
Splendid is color then.
Blackbirds sing a full lay,
if there be a slender shaft of day.

The dust-colored cuckoo calls aloud:
Welcome, splendid summer!
The bitterness of bad weather is past,
the boughs of the wood are a thicket.

Summer cuts the river down,
the swift herd of horses seeks the pool,
the long hair of the heather is outspread,
the soft white bog-down grows.

Panic startles the heart of the deer,
the smooth sea runs apace-
season when ocean sinks asleep-
blossom covers the world.

Bees with puny strength carry a goodly burden,
the harvest of blossoms;
up the mountain-side kine take with them mud,
the ant makes a rich meal.

The harp of the forest sounds music,
the sail gathers-perfect peace.
Color has settled on every height,
haze on the lake of full waters.

The corncrake, a strenuous bard, discourses;
the lofty virgin waterfall
sings a welcome to the warm pool;
the talk of the rushes is come.

Light swallows dart aloft,
loud melody reaches round the hill,
the soft rich mast buds,
the stuttering quagmire rehearses.

The peat-bog is as the raven’s coat,
the loud cuckoo bids welcome,
the speckled fish leaps,
strong is the bound of the swift warrior.

Man flourishes, the maiden buds
in her fair strong pride;
perfect each forest from top to ground,
perfect each great stately plain.

Delightful is the season’s splendor,
rough winter has gone,
white is every fruitful wood,
a joyous peace in summer.

A flock of birds settles
in the midst of meadows;
the green field rustles,
wherein is a brawling white stream.

A wild longing is on you to race horses,
the ranked host is ranged around:
A bright shaft has been shot into the land,
so that the water-flag is gold beneath it.

A timorous tiny persistent little fellow
sings at the top of his voice,
the lark sings clear tidings:
surpassing May-day of delicate colors!


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