Cuchulain and Fand

Now upon this it was discerned by Manannan that Fand the daughter of Aed Abra was engaged in unequal warfare with the women of Ulster, and that she was like to be left by Cuchulain. And thereon Manannan came from the east to seek for the lady, and he was perceived by her, nor was there any other conscious of his presence saving Fand alone. And, when she saw Manannan, the lady was seized by great bitterness of mind and by grief, and being thus, she made this song:

Lo! the Son of the Sea-Folk from plains draws near
    Whence Yeogan, the Stream, is poured;
‘Tis Manannan, of old he to me was dear,
    And above the fair world we soared.

Yet to-day, although excellent sounds his cry,
    No love fills my noble heart,
For the pathways of love may be bent awry,
    Its knowledge in vain depart.

When I dwelt in the bower of the Yeogan Stream,
    At the Son of the Ocean’s side,
Of a life there unending was then our dream,
    Naught seemed could our love divide.

When the comely Manannan to wed me came,
    To me, as a spouse, full meet;
Not in shame was I sold, in no chessmen’s game
    The price of a foe’s defeat.

When the comely Manannan my lord was made,
    When I was his equal spouse,
This armlet of gold that I bear he paid
    As price for my marriage vows.

Through the heather came bride-maids, in garments brave
    Of all colours, two score and ten;
And beside all the maidens my bounty gave
    To my husband a fifty men.

Four times fifty our host; for no frenzied strife
    In our palace was pent that throng,
Where a hundred strong men led a gladsome life,
    One hundred fair dames and strong.

Manannan draws near: over ocean he speeds,
    From all notice of fools is he free;
As a horseman he comes, for no vessel he needs
    Who rides the maned waves of the sea.

He hath passed near us now, though his visage to view
    Is to all, save to fairies, forbid;
Every troop of mankind his keen sight searcheth through,
    Though small, and in secret though hid.

But for me, this resolve in my spirit shall dwell,
    Since weak, being woman’s, my mind;
Since from him whom so dearly I loved, and so well,
    Only danger and insult I find.

I will go! in mine honour unsullied depart,
    Fair Cuchulain! I bid thee good-bye;
I have gained not the wish that was dear to my heart,
    High justice compels me to fly.

It is flight, this alone that befitteth my state,
    Though to some shall this parting be hard:
O thou son of Riangabra! the insult was great:
    Not by Laeg shall my going be barred.

I depart to my spouse; ne’er to strife with a foe
    Shall Manannan his consort expose;
And, that none may complain that in secret I go,
    Behold him! his form I disclose!

Then that lady rose behind Manannan as he passed, and Manannan greeted her: “O lady!” he said, “which wilt thou do? wilt thou depart with me, or abide here until Cuchulain comes to thee?” “By my troth,” answered Fand, “either of the two of ye were a fitting spouse to adhere to; and neither of you two is better than the other; yet, Manannan, it is with thee that I go, nor will I wait for Cuchulain, for he hath betrayed me; and there is another matter, moreover, that weigheth with me, O thou noble prince!” said she, “and that is that thou hast no consort who is of worth equal to thine, but such a one hath Cuchulain already.”

And Cuchulain saw the lady as she went from him to Manannan, and he cried out to Laeg: “What meaneth this that I see?” “‘Tis no hard matter to answer thee,” said Laeg. “Fand goeth away with Manannan the Son of the Sea, since she hath not been pleasing in thy sight!”

Then Cuchulain bounded three times high into the air, and he made three great leaps towards the south, and thus he came to Tara Luachra, and there he abode for a long time, having no meat and no drink, dwelling upon the mountains, and sleeping upon the high-road that runneth through the midst of Luachra.

Then Emer went on to Emain, and there she sought out king Conor, and she told Conor of Cuchulain’s state, and Conor sent out his learned men and the people of skill, and the Druids of Ulster, that they might seek for Cuchulain, and might bind him fast, and bring him with them to Emain. And Cuchulain strove to slay the people of skill, but they chanted wizard and fairy songs against him, and they bound fast his feet and his hands until he came a little to his senses. Then he begged for a drink at their hands, and the Druids gave him a drink of forgetfulness, so that afterwards he had no more remembrance of Fand nor of anything else that he had then done; and they also gave a drink of forgetfulness to Emer that she might forget her jealousy, for her state was in no way better than the state of Cuchulain. And Manannan shook his cloak between Cuchulain and Fand, so that they might never meet together again throughout eternity.


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