The Celtic Literature Collective

Finnís poem on Mayday

Summer-time, season supreme!
Splendid is colour then.
Blackbirds sing a full lay
If there be a slender shaft of day.

The dust-coloured cuckoo calls aloud:
Welcome, splendid summer!
The bitterness of bad weather is past,
The boughs of the wood are a thicket.

Panic startles the heart of the deer,
The smooth sea runs apace -
Season when ocean sinks asleep,
Blosson covers the world.

Bees with puny strength carry
A goodly burden, the harvest of blossoms;
Up the mountain-side kine take with them mud,
The ant makes a rich meal.

The harp of the forest sounds music,
The sail-gathers - perfect peace;
Colour has settled on every height,
Haze on the lake of full waters.

The corncrake, a strenuous bird, discourses,
The lofty cold waterfall sings
A welcome to the warm pool -
The talk of the rushes has come.

Light swallows dart aloft,
Loud melody encircles the hill,
The soft rich mast buds,
The stuttering quagmire prattles.

The peat-bog is as the raven's coat,
The loud cuckoo bids welcome,
The speckled fish leaps -
Strong is the bound of the swift warrior.

Man flourishes, the maiden buds
In her fair strong pride.
Perfect each forest from top to ground,
Perfect each great stately plain.

Delightful is the season's splendour,
Rough winter has gone:
Every fruitful wood shines white,
A joyous peace is summer.

A flock of birds settles
In the midst of meadows,
The green field rustles,
Wherein is a brawling white stream.

A wild longing is on you to race horses,
The ranked host is ranged around:
A bright shaft has been shot into the land,
So that the water-flag is gold beneath it.

A timorous, tiny, persistent little fellow
Sings at the top of his voice,
The lark sings clear tidings:
Surpassing summer-time of delicate hues!

Manuscript: Bodleian MS Laud 610
Translation: Meyer, Kuno. Four Old-Irish Songs of Summer and Winter. London, 1903. reprinted from Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry. London, 1911.