Fiction > Harvard Classics > The Destruction of Dá Derga’s Hostel
  The Destruction of Dá Derga’s Hostel.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
The Room of Mac cecht, Conaire’s battle-soldier
  There I beheld another room with a trio in it, three half-furious nobles: the biggest of them in the middle, very noisy … rockbodied, angry, smiting, dealing strong blows, who beats nine hundred in battle-conflict. A wooden shield, dark, covered with iron, he bears, with a hard … rim, a shield whereon would fit the proper litter of four troops of ten weaklings on its … of … leather. A … boss thereon, the depth of a caldron, fit to cook four oxen, a hollow maw, a great boiling, with four swine in its mid-maw great … At his two smooth sides are two five-thwarted boats fit for three parties of ten in each of his two strong fleets.  1
  A spear he hath, blue-red, hand-fitting, on its puissant shaft. It stretches along the wall on the roof and rests on the ground. An iron point upon it, dark-red, dripping. Four amply-measured feet between the two points of its edge.  2
  Thirty amply-measured feet in his deadly-striking sword from dark point to iron hilt. It shews forth fiery sparks which illumine the Mid-court House from roof to ground.  3
  ’Tis a strong countenance that I see. A swoon from horror almost befell me while staring at those three. There is nothing stranger.  4
  Two bare hills were there by the man with hair. Two loughs by a mountain of the … of a blue-fronted wave: two hides by a tree. Two boats near them full of thorns of a white thorn tree on a circular board. And there seems to me somewhat like a slender stream of water on which the sun is shining, and its trickle down from it, and a hide arranged behind it, and a palace house-post shaped like a great lance above it. A good weight of a plough-yoke is the shaft that is therein. Liken thou that, O Fer rogain!  5
  “Easy, meseems, to liken him! That is Mac cecht son of Snaide Teichid; the battle-solider of Conaire son of Eterscél. Good is the hero Mac cecht! Supine he was in his room, in his sleep, when thou beheldest him. The two bare hills which thou sawest by the man with hair, these are his two knees by his head. The two loughs by the mountain which thou sawest, these are his two eyes by his nose. The two hides by a tree which thou sawest, these are his two ears by his head. The two five-thwarted boats on a circular board, which thou sawest, these are his two sandals on his shield. The slender stream of water which thou sawest, whereon the sun shines, and its trickle down from it, this is the flickering of his sword. The hide which thou sawest arranged behind him, that is his sword’s scabbard. The palace-housepost which thou sawest, that is his lance: and he brandishes this spear till its two ends meet, and he hurls a wilful cast of it when he pleases. Good is the hero, Mac cecht!”  6
  “Six hundred will fall by him in his first encounter, and a man for each of his weapons, besides a man for himself. And he will share prowess with every one in the Hostel, and he will boast of triumph over a king or chief of the reavers in front of the Hostel. He will chance to escape though wounded. And when he shall chance to come upon you out of the house, as numerous as hailstones, and grass on a green, and stars of heaven will be your cloven heads and skulls, and the clots of your brains, your bones and the heaps of your bowels, crushed by him and scattered throughout the ridges.”  7
  Then with trembling and terror of Mac cecht they flee over three ridges.  8
  They took the pledges among them again, even Gér and Gabur and Fer rogain.  9
  “Woe to him that shall wreak the Destruction,” says Lomna Drúth; “your heads will depart from you.”  10
  “Ye cannot,” says Ingcél: “clouds of weakness are coming to you” etc.  11
  “True indeed, O Ingcél,” says Lomna Drúth son of Donn Désa.  12
  “Not unto thee is the loss caused by the Destruction. Woe is me for the Destruction, for the first head that will reach the Hostel will be mine!”  13
  “’Tis harder for me,” says Ingcél: “’tis my destruction that has been … there.  14
  “Truly then,” says Ingcél, “maybe I shall be the corpse that is frailest there,” etc.  15
  “And afterwards whom sawest thou there?”  16


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