Saturday, January 30, 2010
The Pangs of Ulster
The king had challenged all to race against his horses and win
How she wished, her husband would have kept silent and refrained!
He had boasted she was quicker on her feat, she had it from within!
And now she had to race, to release him, for he was chained.
Macha pleaded, "leave me now as am about to deliver;
I agree he should have known better not to utter so"
But the king was stern. He threatened she'ld loose him forever;
She cried and urged to the men around, but none listened to her woe.
Due for labour, she was being forced to race with birth-pang throes
She begged him to spare her till she placed the lives within her on this land
But the ego wounded king would care not and ordered her on her toes
She wriggled in pain and feminity hurting as she readied to race on sand
Macha, disgusted and vulnerable, set out to race with horses of the king
She whizzed past them to reach the end of course, and won by clear margin
She collapsed and writhed in pain and her screams on field began to ring
They were born, a girl and boy on the land, gave name to Emhain Macha, those twins
Her howls drained the energy in all men who heard her on field at ulster
She cursed the king and the men, until 'beyond the ninth wave' to come
they would be as weak as a woman in her labour time to muster
no strength to fight when it would be most needed and will succumb
The time a woman would spend in labour, for five days and four nights
You would wail your lack of strength when you would need most to defend
The curse prevailed, that she uttered in agony at violation of her rights
Her feminity ransacked and exposed with no hand of support that was lent
When Medhbh of connacht raided Ulster to capture the bull of Cooley
No man could withstand the rage, sullened by the curse
"Titim gan eiri ort", had Macha cursed truly
Men garnered havoc upon themselves, that liveth with them even in remorse
"beyond the ninth wave" - It is a traditional Irish concept meaning 'beyond the known world' found within ancient mythological texts and stories. MAcha places a curse not only on the men who heard her cry, but their sons for nine generations after. Nine, as well as three, is a commonly seen number in Irish mythology
"Titim gan eiri ort" - May you fall without risinge