This is a dramatic poem, written from the viewpoint of the
famous queen, Gormfhlaith. She was the daughter of one high
king (Flann Sionna, ard rí from 878-916) and wife of
another (Niall Glúndubh, ard rí from 916?-919 --- her
third husband). When he died fighting the Norse, legend has it
that she lived and died in poverty and starvation. (History
doesn't.) She is used as an exemplar of how quickly life can
change, and it was popular to write "pityeful songs" from
Gormfhlaith's point of view. This poem is part of a whole
collection of such poems (the O'Gara MS).
Dubhach sin, a dhúin na ríogh,
ní hiongnadh dhuit do dhith Néill;
dob annamh leat orchra ort,
dubhach sibh anocht dá éis.
Giodh dubhach ataoisi anocht,
dobudh tusa cnoc n gcliar;
dob annamh tusa leat féin
i n-aimsir Néill na Naoi nGiall.*
Gach flaitheas acht flaitheas Dé
a chaitheamh uile is é a chríoch;
an saoghal ní hadhbhar tnúidh,
dubhach sin, a dhúin na ríogh.
That gloom, oh fort of the kings,
is not strange considering your loss of Niall;
it is rare for you to be in decay--
you are gloomy tonight from all that.
It is gloomy beside you tonight,
it is hard, you hill of the learned;
it was rare for you to be all by yourself
in the time of Niall of the Nine Hostages.*
Each kingdom but the kingdom of God --
its territory will all be worn out.
The arrow's not desired by the
that gloom, fort of the kings.
* Néill na Naoi nGiall/Niall of the Nine Hostages: Not Gormfhlaith's dead husband. He was the ard rí of Ireland in St. Patrick's time. The nine hostages were sent to stay with him as assurance that their kin (the tribal/provincial kings) would not fight against him.
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Here's another Gormfhlaith song.
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