08 August, 2007

The Legend of Deirdre summary

The Legend of Deirdre begins in the Great Hall of King Connacher of the family Ulster. The king and his knights are celebrating the Celtic festival of Sanhain when a piercing cry disrupts the revelry. The Druid Cathbad announces to the silent crowd that the cry came from the child still in the womb of Elva, the bard Malcolm's wife. He prophesizes that the child Deirdre will be of great beauty, that kings will desire her, and that warfare will divide the kingdom because of her. King Connacher is intrigued by Cathbad's description of her unequaled beauty and orders that she be raised in order to be his wife. She grows up to be both beautiful and kind. However, Deirdre does not want to marry Connacher, but rather the man she sees in a dream and who she is reminded of when a black raven drinks blood on the snow. One day she sees him walking by and runs out to kiss him and give him her love. The man, Naois of Uisnach, is at first afraid because of the prophecy, but he falls in love anyway. His brothers take him and Deirdre to exile in Scotland where they live happily until King Connacher sends a message for them to return and be forgiven. Deirdre is afraid because she has had a vision of ravens pronouncing that death awaits the three brothers in Ireland, but Naois is determined to return. When Connacher hears upon their arrival how beautiful Deirdre remains, he orders the brothers killed, but they defeat all one hundred men he sends against them. Then he orders Cathbad to kill them, and the druid proceeds to turn the plain on which the brothers stand into a dense forest, freezing ocean, and jagged rock torture chamber, respectively. The brothers fall one by one until Deirdre is left to weep over their ragged bodies, and then Connacher takes her to be locked in his palace. She refuses to eat, and soon dies. She is buried beside the grave of Naois, and a stake of Yew wood is set to mark each grave. Two years later, two beautiful Yew trees have grown together, their branches intertwined, so that the two trees are one.

This summary is taken from an adaptation of the Gaelic story by John Stuart Dick.

In green fields
Now unknown
Your name upon
The standing stone
Love invites
One last call
When death from life
Begins to fall
The streams no longer go
To tides of distant seas
No love can grow old
Without memories
Your arms my home
Where I would sleep

Deirdre's Lament by John Stuart Dick

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