Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Background details and bibliographic information
Cuchulain's Fight with the Sea
Author: William Butler Yeats
Electronic edition compiled and proof-read by Beatrix Färber, Rebecca Daly
Funded by School of History, University College, Cork
1. First draft.
Extent of text: 1380 words
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork
College Road, Cork, Irelandhttp://www.ucc.ie/celt (2014)
Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: E890001-004
The works by W. B. Yeats are in the public domain. This electronic text is available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of private or academic research and teaching.
First published 11 June 1892, in the journal United Ireland (A. Norman Jeffares, p. 28).
Literature (a small selection)
- Jeremiah Curtin, Myths and Folk-lore in Ireland (Boston 1890).
- W. B. Yeats, The Rose (1893).
- W. B. Yeats, Poems (London 1895).
- W. B. Yeats, The Autobiography of William Butler Yeats, consisting of Reveries over childhood and youth, The trembling of the veil, and Dramatis personae (New York 1938).
- Richard Ellmann, Yeats: The Man and the Masks. Corrected edition with a new preface (Oxford 1979). [First published New York 1948; reprinted London 1961.]
- Peter Allt and Russell K. Alspach, The Variorum Edition of the Poems of W.B. Yeats (New York: Macmillan 1957).
- W. B. Yeats, Essays and Introductions (New York: Macmillan 1961).
- W. B. Yeats, Explorations: selected by Mrs W. B. Yeats (London/New York: Macmillan 1962).
- Richard Ellmann, The Identity of Yeats (New York 1964).
- A. Norman Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats (Stanford 1984).
- Helen Vendler, Our Secret Discipline: Yeats and Lyric Form (Oxford/New York 2007).
- A general bibliography is available online at the official web site of the Nobel Prize. See: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1923/yeats-bibl.html
The edition used in the digital edition
- William Butler Yeats Cuchulain's Fight with the Sea in , Ed. Richard J. Finneran The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats. Macmillan Press, London, (1991) pages 3336
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts
The whole poem.
The text has been proof-read twice.
The electronic text represents the edited text.
The editorial practice of the hard-copy editor has been retained.
div0= the individual poem, stanzas are marked lg.
Names of persons (given names), and places are not tagged. Terms for cultural and social roles are not tagged.
Use of language
Language: [EN] The poem is in English.
Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition: E890001-004
Cuchulain's Fight with the Sea: Author: William Butler Yeats
- A man came slowly from the setting sun,
To Emer, raddling raiment in her dun,
And said, 'I am that swineherd whom you bid
Go watch the road between the wood and tide,
But now I have no need to watch it more.'
Then Emer cast the web upon the floor,
And raising arms all raddled with the dye,
Parted her lips with a loud sudden cry.
That swineherd stared upon her face and said,
'No man alive, no man among the dead,
Has won the gold his cars of battle bring.'
'But if your master comes home triumphing
Why must you blench and shake from foot to crown?'
Thereon he shook the more and cast him down
Upon the web-heaped floor, and cried his word:
'With him is one sweet-throated like a bird.'
'You dare me to my face,' and thereupon
She smote with raddled fist, and where her son
Herded the cattle came with stumbling feet,
And cried with angry voice, 'It is not meet
To idle life away, a common herd.'
'I have long waited, mother, for that word:
But wherefore now?'
'There is a man to die;
You have the heaviest arm under the sky.'
'Whether under its daylight or its stars
My father stands amid his battle-cars.'
'But you have grown to be the taller man.'
'Yet somewhere under starlight or the sun
My father stands.'
' Aged, worn out with wars
On foot, on horseback or in battle-cars.'
'I only ask what way my journey lies,
For He who made you bitter made you wise.'
'The Red Branch camp in a great company
Between wood's rim and the horses of the sea.
Go there, and light a camp-fire at wood's rim;
But tell your name and lineage to him
Whose blade compels, and wait till they have found
Some feasting man that the same oath has bound.'
Among those feasting men Cuchulain dwelt,
And his young sweetheart close beside him knelt,
Stared on the mournful wonder of his eyes,
Even as spring upon the ancient skies,
And pondered on the glory of his days;
And all around the harp-string told his praise,
And Conchubar, the Red Branch king of kings,
With his own fingers touched the brazen strings.
At last Cuchulain spake, 'Some man has made
His evening fire amid the leafy shade.
I have often heard him singing to and fro,
I have often heard the sweet sound of his bow.
Seek out what man he is.'
One went and came.
'He bade me let all know he gives his name
At the sword-point, and waits till we have found
Some feasting man that the same oath has bound.'
Cuchulain cried, 'I am the only man
Of all this host so bound from childhood on.
After short fighting in the leafy shade,
He spake to the young man, 'Is there no maid
Who loves you, no white arms to wrap you round,
Or do you long for the dim sleepy ground,
That you have come and dared me to my face?'
'The dooms of men are in God's hidden place,'
'Your head a while seemed like a woman's head
That I loved once.'
Again the fighting sped,
But now the war-rage in Cuchulain woke,
And through that new blade's guard the old blade broke,
And pierced him.
'Speak before your breath is done.'
'Cuchulain I, mighty Cuchulain's son.'
'I put you from your pain. I can no more.'
While day its burden on to evening bore,
With head bowed on his knees Cuchulain stayed;
Then Conchubar sent that sweet-throated maid,
And she, to win him, his grey hair caressed;
In vain her arms, in vain her soft white breast.
Then Conchubar, the subtlest of all men,
Ranking his Druids round him ten by ten,
Spake thus: 'Cuchulain will dwell there and brood
For three days more in dreadful quietude,
And then arise, and raving slay us all.
Chaunt in his ear delusions magical,
That he may fight the horses of the sea.'
The Druids took them to their mystery,
And chaunted for three days.
Stared on the horses of the sea, and heard
The cars of battle and his own name cried;
And fought with the invulnerable tide.