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Hag of Beara

Natural Rock Feature


The Lament of the Hag (or Nun) of Beare.

I am the Hag of Beare,
An ever-new smock I used to wear;
Today - such is my mean estate -
I wear not even a cast-off smock.

The maidens rejoice
When May-day comes to them;
For me sorrow is meeter*,
I am wretched, I am an old hag.

Amen! woe is me!
Every acorn has to drop.
After feasting by shining candles
To be in the gloom of a prayer-house!

I had my day with kings,
Drinking mead and wine;
Today I drink whey-water
Among shrivelled old hags.

The flood-wave
And the second ebbtide-
They have all reached me,
So that I know them well.

There is scarce a little place today
That I can recognise;
What was on flood
Is all on ebb.
This is just the first part of a tenth century Irish poem, translated in 1913 by Dr Kuno Meyer. Perhaps we should get Simon Armitage (after his Gawain and the Green Knight) on the case for a modern version?

I found it quoted on p227 of
Legends and Traditions of the Cailleach Bheara or Old Woman (Hag) of Beare
Eleanor Hull
Folklore, Vol. 38, No. 3. (Sep. 30, 1927), pp. 225-254.

(*sic. can't find what this means? meat as in what sustains her (or not)? or it meets her? hmm.)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd May 2007ce
Edited 22nd May 2007ce

Comments (2)

Meeter, perhaps 'more meet', more JUST. Biblical, "it is meet and just." Posted by Dyscajorjan
11th August 2010ce
excellent, thank you. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th August 2010ce
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