from Love songs from a dead tongue


 
 

17

Lamentation has its season
and right end, even for gentle Niall;
excess has delivered me
to this not life not death.

A time of one and thirty years,
since that king died,
each night I wept him
seven hundred tears.

Last night he, my dead king, came in,
said: put an end to mourning, love,
the Arch-King of the seraphim
grows weary hearing you.

I turned on Niall,
angry as I had never been before,
said: for what cause should that highest King
turn weary from a penitent?

Remember, love, he said,
God set all men in being;
why then would he wish
to overhear them weeping?

Then Niall himself
turned from me, twisting love;
at sight of this I scream aloud,
spring after him.

For some support
I leaned my breast
against a bed-post of smooth yew
which penetrated it, my heart.

Tonight I implore God
grant me surcease in death;
on what road Niall turns
let me turn too.

King husband first
three hundred cows,
two hundred horse
conveyed me.

Then my second husband king,
never to seem outdone
in generosity of soul,
conveyed me double that.

Why should I hide
from my true king, these gifts?
Such gifts, and twice such more,
Niall gave me in one month.
                    Lamentation