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The Sleep Song Of Grainne
Over Dermuid

When Fleeing From Finn Mac Cumhaill

Sleep a little, a little little,
Thou needst feel no fear or dread,
Youth to whom my love is given,
I am watching near thy head.

Sleep a little with my blessing,
Dermuid of the lighthouse eye,
I will guard thee as thou dreamest,
None shall harm while I am by.

Sleep, O little lamb,
Whose homeland was
The country of the lakes,
In whose bosom torrents tremble,
From whose sides the river breaks.

Sleep as slept the ancient poet,
Dedach, minstrel of the South,
When he snatched from Conall Cernach,
Eithne of the laughing mouth.

Sleep as slept the comely Finncha
'Neath the falls of Assaroe.
Who, when stately Slaine sought him,
Laid the Hard-head Failbe low.

Sleep in joy, as slept fair Aine,
Gailan's daughter of the West,
Where amid the flaming torches,
She and Duvach found their rest.

Sleep as Degha, who in triumph,
Ere the sun sang o'er the land
Stole the maiden he had craved for,
Plucked her from fierce Deacall's hand.

Fold of valour, sleep a little,
Glory of the Western World,
I am wondering at your beauty,
Marvelling how thy locks are curled.

Like the parting of two children,
Bred together in one home,
Like the breaking of two spirits,
If I did not see thee come.

Swirl the leaves before the tempest,
Moans the night wind o'er the lea,
Down the stony bed the streamlet
Hurries onward to the sea.

In the swaying boughs the linnet,
Twitters in the darkling light,
On the upland wastes of heather
Wings the grouse its heavy flight.

In the marshland by the river,
Sulks the otter in his den,
While the piping of the peeweet
Sounds across the distant fen.

On the stormy mere the wild duck
Pushes outward from the brake,
With her downy brood beside her
Seeks the center of the lake.

In the East the restless roe-deer
Bellows to his frightened hind,
On thy track the wolfhounds gather,
Sniffing up against the wind.

Yet, O Dermuid, sleep alittle,
This one night our fear hath fled,
Youth to whom my love is given,
See, I watch beside thy head.

translated by
-Eleanor Hull-