A Begging Letter
I have found a marvel, my friend--no reverence have I found from people to
whom it were fitting to wait upon me; it is a cold new marvel.
That I am empty--see whether this be not a thing to mark, while base folk,
unworthy of regard, are here receiving riches from Spain in honour of the sweet
green plain of Bregha.
Vulgar wives of churl and clown are yonder in golden raiment, while I lack
wealth--I deem it unjust.
Against the low-born families of Lughaidh's land, which have caused a spark
of envy to kindle within me, O son of Fitheal from Énna's land, show unto me the
sunlight of thy earnest care.
O stately tree of the city of Tuam, think in sooth that it is unbecoming for
me not to be in company with noble blood; lift me up with good will.
In the west I have left the end of my success, since I have spent my first
fortune; if thou art well-minded towards me, O Flaithri, it will be to me a
pledge of a second fortune.
Thy father would have held it no small wonder that my possessions grow
not--complete is the ruin--while a serf's son finds his riches growing, O thou
branch from which has grown rich fruit.
King Arthur, the prop of the world, was mighty upon earth; every man was
bound to pay court to him, he ruled the plain of this world.
Arthur never took food nor drink without some new marvel--strange was the
addition--until his death, when he had attained sovranty, he the topmost branch
of yonder land.
Had I been there while he lived, that world-king of blazing triumphs,
he would not--I say it sincerely--let me go fasting to bed a single night.
At the Round Table, in Arthur's presence, I should have told him on behalf of
my order how I am sonowful because I am in evil plight, while coarse churls have
gold at their disposal.
He would not take his meal when he heard how the children of robbers are full
of merriment, and how great is my misery among the blood of the Gaels--the
honour due to a guest is not mine.
In the court of Louvain of the purple slopes I am lodged with others here in
the east: my state is hard for one like me, I think it a shame to my
The rod of Tuam hath an old love for the house from which I come;
if he still keeps the love he ought to hold out his hand to me.
When Flaithri son of Fitheal the comely was a master-poet there would have
been kindness in his heart--that shield that protected Magh Maoin.
Guiding star of the patrons of Uisneach, Archbishop of Connacht, noble
figure, sage whom every true poet has praised, heart of the schools in the
Salmon of the Boyle, salmon of Cong, branch of the orchard of Té's Fortress,
golden moon whereon no eclipse has spread, exalter of the humble.
Godly elder never envious, crowned prince who wins devotion, sweet stream
gushing from the hillside, saintly faith that will not divide its purpose.
Descendant of Conn of the Hundred Fights of Cnoc Maisdean, son of Onóra,
lasting honour, fresh stalk from warm moist Banbha, desire of my heart, welcome
that is never cold.
Magennis of the joyous nature, constant welcome I was wont to get from him,
his love was always ready to be bestowed, that was no cold welcome.
Conn, son of Ó Ruairc of the red spear-points, heir to Connacht, skin like
the foam; his two comrades on a foray were an ancient slender stream and a cold
I transgress the teaching of the Apostles by my practice of constant evils. I
fear Peter may drive me from his society--may he not be cold towards me.
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