The Talking Of The Rushes Has Begun By Fionn Mac Cumhaill



Introduction : I found this poem in Part II of Lady Gregory’s God’s and Fighting Men. The stories in that section are about the Fianna who were a band of warriors trained in the arts of fighting, oratory and poetry. Their leader was Fionn Mac Cumhaill who is said to have written the poem below. I think it is one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read. I have taken the liberty of giving it a name from one of the lines within it. 




It is the month of May is the pleasant time; its face is beautiful; the blackbird sings his full song, the living wood is his holding, the cuckoos are singing and ever singing; there is a welcome before the brightness of the summer.

Summer is lessening the rivers, the swift horses are looking for the pool; the heath spreads out its long hair, the weak white bog down grows. A wildness comes on the heart of the deer; the sad restless sea is asleep.

Bees with their little strength carry a load reaped from the flowers; the cattle go up muddy to the mountains; the ant has a good full feast.

The harp of the woods is playing music; there is colour on the hills, and a haze on the full lakes, and entire peace upon every sail.

The corncrake is speaking, a loud voiced poet; the high lonely waterfall is singing a welcome to the warm pool, the talking of the rushes has begun.

The light swallows are darting; the loudness of music is around the hill; the fat soft mast is budding; there is grass on the trembling bogs.

The bog is as dark as the feathers of the raven; the cuckoo makes a loud welcome; the speckled salmon is leaping; as strong as the leaping of the swift fighting man. 

The man is gaining; the girl is in her comely growing power; every wood is without fault from the top to the ground, and every wide good plain.

It is pleasant is the colour of the time; rough winter is gone; every plentiful wood is white; summer is a joyful peace.

A flock of birds pitches in the meadow; there are sounds in the green fields, there is in them a clear rushing stream. 

There is a hot desire on you for the racing of horses; twisted holly makes a leash for the hound; a bright spear has been shot into the earth, and the flag flower is golden under it. 

A weak lasting little bird is singing at the top of his voice; the lark is singing clear tidings; May without fault, of beautiful colours. 




I have another story for you; the ox is lowing, the winter is creeping in, the summer is gone. High and cold the wind, low the sun, cries are about us; the sea is quarrelling. 

The ferns are reddened and their shape is hidden; the cry of the wild goose is heard; the cold has caught the wings of the birds; it is the time of ice frost, hard, unhappy. 


2 Replies to “The Talking Of The Rushes Has Begun By Fionn Mac Cumhaill”

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