The Brave and the Love Flute

by Tomás Ó Cárthaigh

Brave was he in battle, and in the cattle chase
But dumb of tongue he was ,awkward in love,
Which is the most important race for men
And he cried to the Gods for help above.

Forlorn was he, so brave, as lesser braves
As in love them: they made the greater gains
One so beautiful he desired the most
She held and played many young men’s heart chains.

And so he walked far far, one day alone,
Shooting random arrows high in the air
Till one, it kept on flying, so he followed
And he shot another as it landed there

To sleep there, being so very tired he went
And in the half world between sleep and wake
Elk men addressed him, knowing his troubles
Bid him a Love Flute of Cedar to take.

For the cedar grows where the wind it blows
And all the birds in the trees all around
See there the holes the woodpecker made
They sing when its played, and the words are found

For a man such as you for maidens fair
The desire great for their heart that you seek
But cannot say: this flutes music says
All the sweet nothings for all men too meek.

And returning to his village he played
And young women’s hearts to its music sang
None’s heart more than she who he desired
To the music the sky with birdsong rang.