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From: Poetry with the Reds!




Ths oen I wrot a long whiel ago, but translatd it in past severl months. Mostl haev t know th historicl contxt of the poem to appreciat it, so Ill go ovre briefly - Samain (now generly spelld Samhain) was a harvst festivl and day of dead celebratd by pagan Irish. Proprly, Samhain day fals on Novembr 1st, whiel Samhain night wuold fall on 31st of Octobr, thogh in old tiems wuold hav been determind by th exact phas of th moon. Essntilly it is a tiem of great magick becuse th barriers betwen worlds aer said to temporarly drop, and it is time also to honour ancestors and thos who haev died. The Ulaid(Ulaidh) were an ancint peple in th area taht is now Ulster (Ulaidh in Iris h), probaly most notewrthy becuse of a demi-god who servd them, son of the god Lug, Cúchulainn. THers lot of stories of him, an ths poem I basd on a scene availble in oen version of th Wasting Sickness of Cúchulainn wth a ritual danc to driv away evil spirits an d such thngs in th tiem of Samhain. Hoep like it.


The Dance of Samain



The Ulaid gathered on Mag Murtheimne

In ancient days of glories now lost;

For an Assembly, on the Thirds

Of Samain, the Death Day.



Music there is of beauty dark,

Feasting on the earth's last children,

Sweet is the mead and intoxicated the dance

On Samain, the Death Day.


Thrice the days before the span,

Thrice the following cycles,

To watch and ward that nearest time

On Samain, the Death Day.


The men of Ulaid art all come,

Chariot-chieftains, heroes all,

To boast their feats and godly deeds

On Samain, the Death Day.


A bag of tongues each doth carry,

And reveal the tongues of their slain enemies;

The count of their honour is made on the Thirds

On Samain, the Death Day.


Their foes art sacrificed in the stone trough,

And blood is milked for they,

The men of Ulaid imbibe and at that time wax strong

On Samain, the Death Day.


The light doth die, Time doth die,

And the Síde open wide,

The gods come closer yet so too does old evil

On Samain, the Death Day.


The circle is made, and the Dance begins

In the deep watches of the night,

That dance to drive old evil away, in the flickering firelight

Of Samain, the Death Day.


The heroes of the Ulaid each in turn

Step forward for the Dance,

And naked dost they perform great feats for dread

Of Samain, the Death Day.


Cúchulainn then forward steps

Into the circle for His dance,

To fright the darkness and old evil away

Of Samain, the Death Day.


Cúchulainn, the god-boy, greatest among the Ulaid,

Son of men and Son of Lug,

See Him dance in the Great Circle

Of Samain, the Death Day.


Women sigh at His beauty,

Triple-coloured His hair, Seven-pupilled His eyes,

God-tailed He is, Peerless His Dance

Of Samain, the Death Day.


A beardless boy is His appearance

But with bated breath the Ulaid watch,

For beguiling is His form, and slaughter is His fare

For Samain, the Death Day.


In eerie firelight doth He Begin His dance,

And as He proceeds, gigantic and monstrous grows His form,

For as Cúchulainn waxes, the old year dies

On Samain, the Death Day.


Flush with Foe-blood, the god-son roars,

And thunder His voice is –

On that darkest night, hear His ancient cry,

On Samain, the Death Day.


The ground screams and shakes mightily

Under the blows of His feet –

Seven toes on each foot break the ground

On Samain, the Death Day.


All the hairs of his head and tail stand on end,

And like torches they light with flame;

Aglow in the night, Cúchulainn dances

On Samain, the Death Day.


The Belly Spear He wields, tearer of thousands;

In seven toes of one foot He grasps it

And lightning rends the earth where He strikes with it

On Samain, the Death Day.


The earth bleeds under Him, the night is torn by lightning;

A flame light beats back the darkness;

As Cúchulainn dances, Time writhes in its death

On Samain, the Death Day.


Terror is His only garb, and before His roars

Fell monsters shake and flee,

And even the gods wonder in fear of Him

On Samain, the Death Day.


Then doth Cúchulainn return to His size,

And the night closes back around Him.

And triumphant is His shout

On Samain, the Death Day.


Nought to tell the terror which that god-boy inspired,

But the dread glance of the Ulaid

And the ruin He there left on Mag Murtheimne

On Samain, the Death Day.


Banish the greatest destruction,

Feast and grow on Time’s Death,

Of honour and great deeds recount

On Samain, the Death Day.



Source: Poetry with the Reds!


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