Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Metrical Dindshenchas (Author: [unknown])

poem 48

Srúb Brain

  1. On a morning the Hound of the Smith
    was on the strong rampart of Dun Delga
    keeping cold watch for combat,
    to pursue hosts on the march.
  2. 5] And he saw the cold cliff-bound sea
    covered with a monstrous marvellous host —
    the man of devices paid no heed —
    in flocks, in great droves.
  3. They filled the sea-plain with their gathering
    10] the bright-winged enormous host:
    they sang a joyless strain
    on their ceaseless rapid course.
  4. It was a world of grief to hear
    their calling, and their hoarse cries:
    15] full loathly and uncomely
    was the sight of their black forms.
  5. Thrice three fifties in the flock;
    full plain to see was their multitude:
    black as long-lived scaldcrow
    20] the cowl of each dusky bird.

  6. p.259

  7. Gross their bodies and their legs:
    they paddled the sea with their feet:
    long as a sail on the thwarts
    were the wings of each bird, past dispute.
  8. 25] Handbreadths thrice seven displays
    the beak of each cruel bird:
    seven cubits of the forearm I counted
    in the girth of their necks.
  9. Against them turned — fierce valour! —
    30] the Hound of battles and encounters:
    the fiery hero slew them with his sling,
    with frenzy and fury.
  10. Thereupon he slew them all entirely,
    the evil formidable fowls,
    35] across every inlet, with fulness of fame,
    to the last surviving raven.
  11. He severed its neck from its shoulders;
    he bathed his hands in its blood;
    the cunning hero wove each mystic sign;
    40] he laid the bill on the ancient rock.
  12. Hence is it called the Raven's Bill,
    (every secret meaning is seen by reference to an exploit)
    from the deed of the Hound that slept not
    (long the measure) any early morning.

  13. p.261