THE ARRIVAL AT THE EARTHLY PARADISE – (Irish ; author unknown ; fourteenth century?)

…A fair wind came on the warriors after that, and they raised their sail, and the boat shipped less water on them ; and a smoothness fell upon the ocean, and the sea went down, so that there was a bright fair calm ; and their came a warbling of unknown birds of many kinds around them in every direction. And then they saw before them the shape of a pleasing land with lovely shores, and they rejoiced and were glad at the sight of this land ; and they reached the land, and found a beautiful green-bosomed river-mouth there, with pure-welling pebbles shining all one silver, and spotted ever-handsome salmon with splendid colours of dark purple on them ; and lovely purple-crested woods round the pleasing streams of the land to which they had come. ‘Beautiful is this land, my warriors,’ said Tadhg, ‘and happy the man whose natural lot it might be to live in it…Lovely and fruitful is this land to which we have come,’ said Tadhg ; ‘and let us go on shore,’ said he, ‘and haul up your boat and dry it out’ They went forward then, twenty strong warriors of them, and left another twenty guarding their boat ; and though they had undergone great cold and roughness and storm and tempest, the champions had no wish for food or fire after reaching the land they had come to, for the smell of the scented bright-purple trees of that country was enough food and repletion for them. They went forward after that all through the wood nearest to them, and found an orchard with lovely purple-crested apple-trees and leafy oaks of beautiful colour and hazels with yellow-clustered nuts. ‘It is wonderful to me, my men’ said Tadhg, ‘what I have noticed – it is winter with us in our land now, and it is summer here in this land,’ said Tadhg.

The loveliness of the place to which they had come was unbounded. And they left it, and came upon a beautiful bright wood after that, and great was the virtue of its smell and its scent, with round purple berries on it, every berry as big as a man’s head. There was a beautiful brilliant flock of birds feeding on these grapes, and it was a strange flock of birds that was there, for they were white birds with purple heads and beaks of gold. They sang music and minstrelsy as they fed on the berries, and that music was plaintive and matchless, for even the sick and the wounded would have fallen asleep to it…

Transcribed from A Celtic Miscellany : Translations from the Celtic Literature by Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson. London. 1951.


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