Táin Bó Cúailnge

17D. Dubthach’s Jealousy

About this Edition

  • Translated By
    Publishing Date
    • Joseph Dunn

And Dubthach’s wife prayed to be lifted to regard the form of Cuchulain. Then it was that jealousy, ill-will and envy possessed Dubthach Doel (‘the Black-tongue’) of Ulster because of his wife in regard to Cuchulain; for he saw his wife climb on the men to get a ghmpse of Cuchulain; and he counselled the hosts to act treacherously towards Cuchulain and to entrap him, even to lay up an ambush around him on all sides to the end that he might fall by them. And he spake these words:

“If this be the Twisted one,
By him shall men’s bodies fall
Shrieks there shall be round the liss;
Deeds to tell of shall be wrought!

“Stones shall be on graves from him;
Kingly martyrs shall increase.
Not well have ye battle found
On the slopes with this wild Hound!

“If this be the Twisted one,
Men shall soon be slain by him;
’Neath his feet shall corpses lie;
Under bushes mantles white!

“Now the Wildman’s form I see,
Nine o heads dangling by his side;
Shattered spoils he has, behold;
Ten heads as his treasure great!

“And your women, too, I see,
Raise their heads above the lines
I behold your puissant queen
Makes no move t’engage in fight!

“Were it mine to give advice,
Men would be on every side,
That they soon might end his life
If this be the Twisted one!”

Fergus macRoig heard this and he deemed it an outrage that Dubthach should counsel how to betray Cuchulain to the hosts. And he reached him a strong, sharp kick with his foot away from him, so that Dubthach struck with his mouth against the group outside. And Fergus reproached him for all the wrongs and iniquities and treachery and shameful deeds he had ever done to the Ulstermen of old and anew. And then he spake these words:

“If this ‘Black-tongue’ Dubthach be,
Let him skulk behind the hosts
No good hath he ever wrought
Since he slew the princesses!

“Base and foul, the deed he wrought:
Fiachu, Conchobar’s son, he slow.
No more fair was heard of him:
Carbrè’s death, Fedilmid’s son!

“Ne’er for Ulster’s weal doth aim
Lugaid’s son, Casruba’s scion
Such is how he acts to men:
Whom he stabs not he incites!

“Ulster’s exiles it would grieve
If their beardless boy should fall.
If on you come Ulster’s troops
They will make your herds their spoil!

“Strown afar your herds will be
By the rising Ulstermen.
Tales there’ll be of mighty deeds
That will tell of far-famed queens!

“Corpses will be under foot
Food there’ll be at ravens rests;
Bucklers lying on the slopes;
Wild and furious deeds increase!

“I behold just now your wives
Raise their heads above the ranks.
I behold your puissant queen
Moves not to engage in war!

“Valour none nor generous deed
Comes from Lugaid’s craven son
Nor will kings see lances red,
If this ‘Blacktongue’ Dubthach be!”

Thus far ‘The Scythed Chariot.’