Torna’s Lament for Corc and Niall by Torna Éices

My foster-children were not slack;
Corc or Neal ne’er turned his back;
Neal, of Tara’s palace hoar,
Worthy seed of Owen More;
Corc, of Cashel’s pleasant rock,
Con-cead-cáhá’s” honoured stock.
Joint exploits made Erin theirs—
Joint exploits of high compeers;
Fierce they were, and stormy strong;
Neal, amid the reeling throng,
Stood terrific ; nor was Corc
Hindmost in the heavy work.
Neal Mac Eochy Vivahain,
Ravaged Albin, hill and plain;
While he fought from Tara far,
Corc disdained unequal war.
Never saw I man like Neal,
Making foreign foemen reel;
Never saw I man like Corc,
Swinging at the savage work;
Never saw I better twain,
Search all Erin round again—
Twain so stout in warlike deeds—
Twain so mild in peaceful weeds.

These the foster-children twain
Of Torna, I who sing the strain;
These they are, the pious ones,
My sons, my darling foster-sons!
Who duly every day would come
To glad the old man’s lonely home,
Ah, happy days I’ve spent between
Old Tara’s Hall and Cashel-green
From Tara down to Cashelford,
From Cashel back to Tara’s lord.
When with Neal, his regent, I
Dealt with princes royally.
If with Corc perchance I were,
I was his prime counsellor.

Therefore Neal I ever set
On my right hand—thus to get
Judgments grave, and weighty words,
For the right hand loyal lords;
But, ever on my left hand side,
Gentle Corc, who knew not pride,
That none other so might part
His dear body from my heart.
Gone is generous Corc O’Yeon—woe is me!
Gone is valiant Neal O’Con—woe is me!
Gone the root of Tara’s stock—woe is me!
Gone the head of Cashel rock—woe is me!
Broken is my witless brain–
Neal, the mighty king, is slain!
Broken is my bruised heart’s core—
Core, the Righ More, is no more!
Mourns Lea Con, in tribute’s chain,
Lost Mac Eochy Vivahain,
And her lost Mac Lewy true—
Mourns Lea Mogha, ruined too!

From: Montgomery, Henry R., Specimens of the Early Native Poetry of Ireland, in English Metrical Translations, by Miss Brooke, Dr Drummond, Samuel Ferguson, J C Mangan, T Furlong, H Grattan Curran, Edward Walsh, J D’Alton, and John Anster, etc, with Historical and Biographical Notices, 1846, James McGlashan: Dublin and W S Orr and Co: London, pp. 51-53.

Date: 5th century (original in Irish); 1846 (translation in English)

By: Torna Éices (5th century)

Translated by: Samuel Ferguson (1810-1886)

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