The Monastic Tale

This poem conveys the essence of the tales of Mad Sweeney- King of the D/alnAraide wounded at the battle of Mag Rath (AD 637) made mad by the din of battle and destined to live wild in the forest.( His counterpart in Welsh literature was Myrddin Wyllt (Mad Merlin).

Suibne and `Eorann :

Author: Suibne Geilt (Mad Sweeney) c.A.D. 1175

Now `Eorann, who had been Suibne's wife, had by that time married G`uaire son of Congal son of Scannl`an....And Suibne came to the place where `Eorann was. G`uaire had gone hunting that day... And the madman settled on the lintel of the hut in which `Eorann was, and spoke these words: "Do you remember, girl", said he "the great love we had for each other when we lived together? And now sleep and comfort are your lot" said he, " and it is not so with me." Suibne then spoke as follows, and `Eorann answered him:


1. Sleep is your lot, lovely `Eorann, committed to a bet with your lover. It is not so here with me: long have I been restless.

2. Lightly great `Eorann, did you say these pleasing words, that you would not live were you be parted for a single day from Suibne.

3. Today it can be quickly seen that you set little store by your old friend: you are warm on the good down of a bead; I am cold without till morning.

`Eorann: 4. Welcome to you bright madman: you are my dearest of all men; though sleep be its lot, my body is wasted since the day I heard you were as naught.

Suibne: 5. Dearer to you is the king's son who leads you to the carefree banquet: he is your chosen wooer; you seek not your old friend.

`Eorann 6. Though the king's son should lead me to carefree banqueting-halls. I should prefer to pass the night in the narrow hollow of a tree with you, O husband, were it in my power.

Suibne: 7. It were better for you to give love and affection to the husband who has you as his one wife than to an uncouth famished dreadful fear inspiring wholly-naked madman.

`Eorann: 8. Were my choice of all the men of Ireland and Scotland given me, I should prefer to live blamelessly on water and cress with you.

Suibne: 9. No path for a loved lady is that of Suibne here on the track of trouble: cold are my beds at Ard Abla; my cold dwellings are not rare.

`Eorann: 10. It saddens me indeed, toiling madman, that you should be unsightly and in distress; it grieves me hat your skin has changed its color and that briars and thorn-bushes should tear you.

Suibne: 11. I speak not to find fault with you, tender radiant gentle lady: Christ son of Mary (mighty bondage), He it is who has brought me to wretchedness.

`Eorann: 12. I wish we could be together, in order that feathers might come over our bodies and that I might roam through light and dark with you every day and every night.

Suibne: 13. I have spent a night in Mourne of the pleasant sounds; I have traveled to the lovely estuary of the Bann; I he roamed over Ireland to its limit; I have visited the monastery of the grandson of S`uanach.

He had hardly said those words when the host coming in from every direction filled the encampment. He then rushed away in wild flight, as he had often done.


Anonymous, c. A.D. 1175: Speech-poem within the prose narrative of Buile Suibne.,(The Madness of Suibhne)

Gerard Murphy, Early Irish Lyrics,Oxford, Clarendon,1970.

Other References:
J.Carney,"Suibne Geilt","The Children of Lir:, Eigse,6 (1950), 83-110; "Studies in Irish Literature and History, p.129ff.,385ff.
R.P. Lehmann,"A study of Buile Suibhne",Etudes Celtiques,6,(1952),289-311;7 (1955),115-36.
P.Riain,"A study of the Irish Legend of the Wild Man", Eigse, 14, (1972),179-206.
A.O.H. Jarman, "Llen Cymru, 1, (1950-1951),201.
K.H. Jackson, "A Further Note on Suibhne Geilt and Merlin",Eigse, 7 (1955),112-16.

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