Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Cailleach and the hunter

From The Emmet, 1823:

The Cailleach...had the most unlimited power over the elements. When a hunter kindled a fire in a sheeling to warm his benumbed limbs, after the fatigues of the chase, this sublime being although in a mountain of Perthshire strode in a moment from hill to hill, and was with the hunter at his blazing fire in a twinkling, though it had been kindled by him in the distant mountains of Ross-shire. She always attempted to destroy him whom she thus so unexpectedly and unwelcomely visited; and the means which she had recourse to for this purpose were various. She was much afraid of a dog and a loaded gun; and as these were companions which every hunter had along with him, she was not so successful in the trade of slaying as she naturally wished. The following song was sung by her one evening to scare a hunter from killing her deer. As the hunter was in the act of levelling his piece at a large stag that grazed in a green meadow between two mountains, she suddenly made her appearance on the frowning brow of a large precipice, and recited or sung as follows, and it almost is unnecessary to mention, that the hunter made the decentest speed possible towards the low grounds, when the last strain came rolling to his ear on the evening breeze...

Tiny hunter cease to roam,
O'er the piny heights where I make my dwelling; 
Tempt the roaring foam, 
Of ocean when high the trouble waves are swelling, 
But here where I hold my sway, 
O'er deep glen and mountain gray, 
Dare not venture night or day -
Tiny mortal roam not here! 
I am monarch of the deer,
Which bound over all these green mountains;
I partake of their cheer, 
The crystal stream so clear, 
And the cresses that fringe the blue fountains: 
Tis I that deform heaven's face with the storm, 
And sublime on the dark clouds career.

I revel 'mid the elemental war, 
At rest within my misty car, 
And send my voice in hollow moans afar, 
Down the dusky glen among the dwellings of men; 
And fill them with terror and fear!

Cease, then, my piny heights to climb,
Pollute not my green knoll of thyme, 
Where I hold my august court,
And with my fairy subjects sport, 
When the moon at her noon, 
Pours her silver stream of light, 
O'er the blue bosom of the silent night!

Tremble mortal, at my power, 
Leave my sacred dominion! 
Ere I cause the heavens lower, 
And whelm thee with a fearful shower, 
For sport to my fairy minions!

Hence away! child of clay, 
Go tempt the roaring foam, 
Of ocean, when high the troubled waves are swelling; 
But ne'er again stray where I hold my sway,
O'er the piny heights that I make my dwelling!