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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
I. Irish
Signs of Home
Celtic Literature
SOON after they saw a beautiful verdant island, with herds of oxen, cows, and sheep browsing all over its hills and valleys; but no houses nor inhabitants to be seen. And they rested some time on this island and ate the flesh of the cows and sheep.  1
  One day while they were standing on a hill a large falcon flew by; and two of the crew, who happened to look closely at him, cried out in the hearing of Maeldun:—  2
  “See that falcon! he is surely like the falcons of Erin!”  3
  “Watch him closely,” cried Maeldun, “and observe exactly in what direction he is flying.”  4
  And they saw that he flew to the southeast, without turning or wavering.  5
  They went on board at once; and having unmoored, they sailed to the southeast after the falcon. After rowing the whole day, they sighted land in the dusk of the evening, which seemed to them like the land of Erin.  6
  Of all the books of the kind published since Macpherson’s ‘Ossian,’ Lady Charlotte Guest’s ‘Mabinogion,’ and Villemarqué’s ‘Barzaz-Breiz,’ this collection of Dr. Joyce’s has had the most marked influence. It consists of eleven tales, and was the first readable collection of the old Gaelic prose romances published in English. So far as the general public is concerned, Dr. Joyce’s method is unquestionably the best. “A translation,” he says, “may either follow the very words, or reproduce the life and spirit, of the original; but no translation can do both. If you render word for word, you lose the spirit; if you wish to give the spirit and manner, you must depart from the exact words and frame your own phrases. I have chosen this latter course. My translation follows the original closely enough in narrative and incident; but so far as mere phraseology is concerned, I have used the English language freely, not allowing myself to be trammeled by too close an adherence to the very words of the text. The originals are in general simple in style; and I have done my best to render them into simple, homely, plain English. In short, I have tried to tell the stories as I conceive the old Shenachies themselves would have told them if they had used English instead of Gaelic.”  7
  Another characteristic and admirably edited translation of one of these miscellaneous stories that lie outside the three cycles of Irish romance is ‘The Vision of Mac Cougleime,’ which we owe to Dr. Kuno Meyer (London: Nutt).  8
  Among the legendary Celtic romances is the short but beautiful and characteristic account of Ossian’s expedition to the Isle of the Blest or the Land of Youth, and his subsequent return as an old and decrepit man—in a word, the Celtic Rip Van Winkle. This legend not only underlies all the spiritual romances of Celtic Ireland and Scotland, but has profoundly appealed to the imagination of the whole complex English race of to-day, whether under the badge of the rose, the thistle, the shamrock, or the leek, whether under the banner of the United Kingdom or that of the Stars and Stripes.  9

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