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PAGE 148

Line 5. "Since he whom Aife bore me," literally "Never until now have I met, since I slew Aife's only son, thy like in deeds of battle, never have I found it, O Ferdia." This is O'Curry's rendering; if it is correct, and it seems to be so substantially, the passage raises a difficulty. Aife's only son is, according to other records, Conlaoch, son of Cuchulain and Aife, killed by his father, who did not at the time know who Conlaoch was. This battle is usually represented as having taken place at the end of Cuchulain's life; but here it is represented as preceding the War of Cualgne, in which Cuchulain himself is represented to be a youth. The allusion certainly indicates an early date for the fight with Conlaoch, and if we are to lay stress on the age of Cuchulain at the time of the War, as recorded in the Book of Leinster, of whose version this incident is a part, the "Son of Aife" would not have been a son of Cuchulain at all in the mind of the writer of this verse. It is possible that there was an early legend of a fight with the son of Aife which was developed afterwards by making him the son of Cuchulain; the oldest version of this incident, that in the Yellow Book of Lecan, reconciles the difficulty by making Conlaoch only seven years old when he took up arms; this could hardly have been the original version.

Line 23 of poem is literally: "It is like thrusting a spear into sand or against the sun."

The metre of the poem "Ah that brooch of gold," and of that on page 144, commencing "Hound, of feats so fair," are unique in this collection, and so far as I know do not occur elsewhere. Both have been reproduced in the original metre, and the rather complicated rhyme-system has also been followed in that on page 148. The first verse of the Irish of this is

Dursan, a eo oir
a Fhirdiad na n-dam
a belc bemnig buain
ba buadach do lamh.

The last syllable of the third line has no rhyme beyond the echo in the second syllable of the next line; oir, "gold," has no rhyme till the word is repeated in the third line of the third verse, rhymed in the second line of the fourth, and finally repeated at the end. The second verse has two final words echoed, brass and maeth; it runs thus

Do barr bude brass
ba cass, ba cain set;
do chriss duillech maeth
immut taeb gu t-ec.

The rhymes in the last two verses are exactly those of the reproduction, they are cain sair, main, laim, chain, the other three end rhymes being oir, choir, and oir.

Line 3 of this poem is "O hero of strong-striking blows."

Line 4. "Triumphant was thine arm."

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