Emer's Lament For Cuchulain

A poem by Isabella Augusta

And Emer took the head of Cuchulain in her hands, and she washed it clean, and put a silk cloth about it, and she held it to her breast, and she began to cry heavily over it, and she made this complaint:

Och, head! Ochone, O head! you gave death to great heroes, to many hundreds; my head will lie in the same grave, the one stone will be made for both of us.

Och, hand! Ochone, hand, that was once gentle. It is often it was put under my head; it is dear that hand was to me.

Dear mouth! Ochone, kind mouth that was sweet-voiced telling stories; since the time love first came on your face, you never refused either weak or strong.

Dear the man, dear the man, that would kill the whole of a great army; dear his cold bright hair, and dear his bright cheeks!

Dear the king, dear the king, that never gave a refusal to any; thirty days it is to-night since my body lay beside your body.

Och, two spears! Ochone, two spears! Och, shield! Och, deadly sword! Let them be given, to Conall of the battles; there was never any wage given the like of that.

I am glad, I am glad, Cuchulain of Muirthemne, I never brought red shame on your face, for any unfaithfulness against you.

Happy are they, happy are they, who will never hear the cuckoo again for ever, now that the Hound has died from us.

I am carried away like a branch on the stream; I will not bind up my hair to-day. From this day I have nothing to say that is better than Ochone! "And oh! my love," she said, "we were often in one another's company, and it was happy for us; for if the world had been searched from the rising of the sun to sunset, the like would never have been found in one place, of the Black Sainglain and the Grey of Macha, and Laeg the chariot-driver, and myself and Cuchulain. And it is breaking my heart is in my body, to be listening to the pity and the sorrowing of women and men, and the harsh crying of the young men of Ulster keening Cuchulain." And after that Emer bade Conall to make a wide, very deep grave for Cuchulain; and she laid herself down beside her gentle comrade, and she put her mouth to his mouth, and she said: "Love of my life, my friend, my sweetheart, my one choice of the men of the earth, many is the woman, wed or unwed, envied me till to-day; and now I will not stay living after you."

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