Love & Sex

Ní fhetar...

Ní fhetar
cía lassa fífea Etan;
ro-fetar Etan bán,
nochon fhífea a hoenarán.

(not * is known / who * with * will sleep * Etan / but * I know * Etan * fair-haired / not * will sleep * by herself)

Who knows
who Etan will sleep with?
But I know fair Etan.
She will not sleep alone.

A playful rhyme, collected in several slightly varying versions in Irische Texte.

Ceist, in n-éláfa limm?

Ceist, in n-éláfa limm?
(question * ? * you will run away * with me)

Tell me, will you elope with me?

Spoken by Fráech to Findabair (who refuses, saying she deserves a proper wedding!) in "Táin Bó Fraích".

It é saigdi goine súain.

It é saigdi goine súain.

(they are * arrows * that kill * sleep)

These are the arrows that murder sleep...

This is a line from the love song of Créde, daughter of Gúaire, for the warrior Dinertach. The arrows are the very real ones that have pierced her beloved. The verb could be translated "wound" or "kill" or "slay", but Shakespeare's verb in "Macbeth does murder sleep!" is hard to resist.

Maraid serc céin mardda aithne.

Maraid serc céin mardda aithne.

(lasts * love * so long * that lasts * bestowal)

Love lasts as long as munificence lasts.

A cynical view of love, jotted down by a scribe in a ninth century manuscript of a Priscian's Grammar. A modern saying given in Ó Longáin's Collection and quoted in "A Miscellany" , says "Mo ghrá thú, an rud agat!"
(I love you - what you have!)

Ceilid serc ainmi ocus olc.

Ceilid serc ainmi ocus olc.

(hides * love * blemishes * and * ill)

Love conceals blemishes and bad character. Love is blind.

A proverb from the poem "Diambad messe bad rí réil". The Modern Irish version is "Folaíonn grá gráin." A 16th century poem, quoted in "A Miscellany" (p. 22) gives as a proverb "Ní breitheamh comhthrom an grádh" (Love is not an impartial judge).

Inum-bia-sa úair coibligi latt?

Inum-bia-sa úair coibligi latt?

(? will be to me - emphatic * an hour * of lying together * with you)

Will I have an hour of love with you?

The classic pick-up line, spoken by Eochaid to Étaín in "Togail Bruidne Da Derga" and by Elatha to Ériu in "Cath Maige Tuired".

Rom-gab dano éolchaire immun mnaí.

Rom-gab dano éolchaire immun mnaí.

(has me taken * yet * longing * about the * woman)

Yet yearning for the woman has taken hold of me.

Connlae, in "Echtrae Chonnlai", is torn between his desire for the bewitching woman who has promised him wonders if he will go away with her, and love for his people and place.

Is ferr do neoch a chor ass mani charthar mar charas.

Is ferr do neoch a chor ass mani charthar mar charas.

(is * better * for * one * its * putting * out * if not * is loved * as * that loves)

It is better to give it up if one is not loved as one loves.

This advice to spurned lovers like herself comes from Fand in "Serglige Con Culainn". It calls to mind a line from Proust's "Du côté de chez Swann": "La preuve qu'il est trop aimé dispense à tout jamais d'aimer assez celui qui la reçoit."

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