It all began just after the Fall
Of the sons of the Lough Goddess Moragall;
My father Fingal mistook a look from McBride,
Who had swallowed the Law and on landing lied;
About murder and strife and my mother who died,
And Finn wreaked revenge all west Wexford wide.
And having crossed counties and ceaselessly wrought,
In an untimely way at Mab’s castle caught;
For a while, in a giant Kerry-cow’s carcass he hid,
Found by an infantryman who’d marched from Madrid,
Severus Marcus Catullus of Rome, living in Wexford,
Having swum the Channel and the Isis at Oxford.
What penance will repay the lost nomenclature;
A suicide hushed up, Finn got away with self-murder
Rather than face Mab’s punishment, wrath,
He took a sip from a poisoned broth;
Finn’s challenge from Mab was legislative lore,
To complete such feats beyond a man’s core.
Men used words to suit their hand;
If holding diseases they would call it a gland,
If building a village they would call it mankind,
If a woman improved it they’d say she was blind.
They put it in churches and had it enshrined;
Finn saw all this, but with blood-tongue behind.
So the debt was settled by Finn’s family;
A lifetime of silence and lost property.
No talk in soft tones in cloisters of gold,
But a tent where the marsh-end is bitterly cold.
No clemency, nor by kindling love’s kisses advances,
No embrace in the arms of the friends of St Francis.
It ended just before the Beginning,
Those other days whereof you heard me singing.
We unfettered a language’s impure chains
And called the seeds and the beak in the rain;
We found comfort in the word-spirits’ witness,
And for Fingal, my ancestors found forgiveness.