That, alas! Round the castle of the Countess Cathleen there was great stir and bustle, for her tender heart was wrung with the misery of her people, and her prayers for them ascended to God unceasingly. They said that they themselves had no food to give, only wine and gold in plenty, so that men might exert themselves and search for food to buy. Gradually, too, speaking now in the Irish tongue, they began to ask her cautious questions of the people, of the land, of the famine, how men lived and how they died, and so they heard of the exceeding goodness of the Countess Cathleen, whose bounty had saved so many lives, and was still saving others, though the deadly pinch of famine grew sorer with the passing days. Are they so noble that they ask nothing in requital of their bounty? After the eight days had passed, numerous vessels brought into famished Ireland immense provisions in grain. "Why do the villagers and strangers no longer come to me for food? ... "The Countess Cathleen/Women of the Sidhe" (Bill Whelan) – 5:44 "Caoineadh Cú Chulainn" (Lament) (Bill Whelan) – 4:11 "Shivna" (Bill Whelan) – 4:05 "Firedance" (Bill Whelan) – 6:04 The Countess then went back in bitter grief to her desolate castle, where only faithful old servants now waited in the halls, and whispered together in the dark corners, and, kneeling in her oratory, she prayed far into the night for light in her darkness. Then the poor called for aid to the plundered Kathleen. Whence they came no man knew, but they were first seen near the wild seashore of the west, and the few poor inhabitants thought they had been put ashore by some vessel or wrecked on that dangerous coast. As she prayed before the altar she slept for very weariness, and was aroused by a sudden furious knocking, and an outcry of "Thieves! The Countess Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics 1892 ... Abbey Theatre Arthur Symons artist beauty Blake Butler Yeats Celtic Twilight Collected Poems Countess Cathleen criticism dramatic dreams Dublin edited emotion English essays experience Ezra Pound fairy fantasy feeling genius heart human idea imagination intellectual Ireland Irish John Butler Yeats Katharine Tynan Lady … and an old peasant rushed in, exclaiming that all the food was gone. B. Yeats, is essentially, that is, by inner right, poetic drama. ", "How much have I in lands?" The souls we have bought we keep, for our master gives us honour and rank proportioned to the number of souls we win for him, and you may see by the golden circlets round our brows that we are princes of his kingdom, and have brought him countless souls. Celtic myth was often used accordingly by the literary revival as an ideological the And while the servants still mourned over the lost treasures of the house there came another cry of "Thieves! I am unable to find out the original source. food and drink to keep some life in them until the pestilential mists should pass away. Meanwhile, but eight days had to pass before the grain and provender would arrive in abundance from the western lands. (15). If Kathleen had been able to make the sign of the Cross, adds the legend, she would have put them to flight, but her hands were captive. Those who had sold their souls rioted with the money, for the demons gave them food, and they bought wine from the inexhaustible stores of the evil merchants. Again they greeted her with mocking respect, and asked to know her will. As soon as she learned that these miscreants profited to the public misery to steal away hearts from God, she called to her butler. "What is the worth of my castles and my fair residences?" "I have a soul to sell, but it is costly. Aided by an infamous servant, they penetrated into the retreat of the noble dame, and purloined from her the rest of her treasure. They have better food and wine, and abundance of money to buy more. Cuchulain, Diarmuit, Naesi all pay with their lives for their obedience to the dictates of honour and conscience. All gathered round the castle and mourned for the Countess Cathleen, for none knew how it would go with her spirit; they feared that the evil demons had borne her soul to Hell. your own Pins on Pinterest Heal Their Hearts. "Poor as they are, Irishmen have still one thing that we will purchase, if they will sell: their souls, which we have come to obtain for our mighty Prince, and with the great price that we shall pay in, pure gold men can well save their lives till the starving time is over. Fergus had landed, and sent word that he was bringing corn and meal as quickly as possible; also a wandering peasant brought a message that nine hundred oxen were within one day's journey of her castle; and when the gentle Cathleen heard this, and knew that her people were safe, she died with a smile on her lips and thanks to God for her people on her tongue. DVDs . A very long time ago, there suddenly appeared in old Ireland two unknown merchants of whom nobody had ever heard, and who nevertheless spoke the language of the country with the greatest perfection. Now many people ventured into the forest to deal with the demons, and the narrow track grew into a broad beaten way with the numbers of those who came, and all returned fed and warmed, and bearing bags heavy with coin, and the promise of abundant food and easy service. Soon there would be nothing left for daily distribution, and her heart almost broke as she saw the misery of her helpless dependents; they looked to her as an angel of pity and deliverance, while she knew herself to be as helpless as they. ", "But do you give them nothing in return for all their generosity? Yeats’s career falls roughly into three phases. The larceny was effected. Discover (and save!) The most difficult allusions in Yeats are not to Roman or Greek history, but rather to Celtic mythology. The merchants, too, were ever at hand with their cunning wiles, and their active, persuasive dupes, who would gladly bring all others into their own soulless condition. Citing the influence of "Irish Catholicism's received pieties," Ap ... "Cathleen ni Houlihan Writes Back: Maud Gonne and Irish National Theater," in Gender and Sexuality ... 8 Anne Marreco, The Rebel Countess: The Life and Times of Countess Markievicz (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1967), 134. "Yes, a few still, in spite of you. Cathleen passed on into her castle, and there in the courtyard she distributed the money to all her people, and bade them dwell quietly in obedience till her steward returned.. She herself, she said, could not stay; she must go on a long and dark journey, for her people's need had broken her heart and conquered her; she was no longer her own, but belonged to the dark lord of Hell; she could not bid them pray for her, nor could she pray for herself. the Roman army. Soon many of the great monasteries lay desolate, their stores exhausted, their portals open, while the brethren, dead within, had none to bury them; the lonely hermits died in their little beehive-shaped cells, or fled from the dreadful solitude to gather in some wealthy abbey which could still feed its monks; and isle and vale which had echoed their holy chants knew the sounds no more. As time passed they told their hostess they were merchants, simple traders from a distant country, trafficking in very precious gems; but they had no wares for exchange, and no gems to show; they made no inquiries or researches, bargained with no man, seemed to do no business; they were the most unusual merchants ever seen in Ireland, and the strangeness of their behaviour troubled men's minds. Purgatory (1939). "Would you have us undo our work? 232:1 This was quoted in a London-Irish newspaper. the Countess asked. "Patrick," said she to him, "how many pieces of gold in my coffers? Thus many minds were ready to revolt from the Christian faith if they had not feared the life after death and the endless torments of the Christian Hell. Sur-rounded by musical atmosphere, full of lyrical parts and short Slip Into Spring Harvest. "Gentlemen," said the landlady one day, "how is it that you are so rich, and that, being able to succour the public misery, you do no good works? Now they had good hope to win her for their master; but they knew that their time was short, since help was not far away. "What does the Countess Cathleen wish to obtain from two poor stranger merchants?" American Wake. Fergus did obeisance to his liege lady, and kissed her hand kneeling as he asked: "What would the Countess Cathleen with her steward? Her servants would gladly have pursued the robbers and regained the spoils, but Cathleen forbade it, for she pitied the miserable thieves, and thought no evil of them in this bitter dearth. Eight days required an immense sum to relieve the exigencies of the dearth, and the poor should either perish in the agonies of hunger, or, denying the holy maxims of the Gospel, vend, for base lucre, their souls, the richest gift from the bounteous hand of the Almighty. When Cathleen heard of the failure of her messengers to bring food it seemed as if all hope were indeed over, and the demons smiled craftily upon her as she turned silently to go, and laughed joyously to each other when she had left their presence. said the Countess. Thunderstorm. Have we toiled, then, for naught to extend our master's sway? Nevertheless their prayers were heard and answered. azure seas, the mist-covered, heather-clad hill-sides, even the barren mountain-tops and the patches of firm ground scattered in the solitudes of fathomless bogs, were homes of pious Culdee or lonely hermit. Thus can I save my poor until the dearth is over. One by one the peasants slunk away, and the demon merchants were quite alone when Cathleen entered the little cottage where they sat, with bags of coin on the table before them and on the ground beside them. Both seemed of like age; they appeared to be men of fifty, for their foreheads were wrinkled and their beards tinged with grey. The character of Countess Cathleen is meant to teach the importance of what is invaluable in life, which in this case is a person's soul. Eight such days were an age. They are the knights-errant of early European chivalry, which was a much deeper and more real inspiration than the carefully cultivated artificial chivalry of centuries later. "A hundred and fifty thousand pieces of gold.". In each case the powers, evil or beneficent, were supposed to be appeased by the offering of a human life. One year there fell upon Ireland, erewhile so happy a great desolation--"For Scripture saith, an ending to all good things must be" 1--and the happiness of the Countess Cathleen's tribe came to an end in this wise: A terrible famine fell on the land; the seed-corn rotted in the ground, for rain and never-lifting mists filled the heavy air and lay on the sodden earth; then when spring came barren fields lay brown where the shooting corn should be; the cattle died in the stall or fell from weakness at the plough, and the sheep died of hunger in the fold; as the year passed through summer towards autumn the berries failed in the sun-parched woods, and the withered leaves, fallen long before the time, lay rotting on the dank earth; the timid wild things of the forest, hares, rabbits, squirrels, died in their holes or fell easy victims to the birds and beasts of prey; and these, in their turn, died of hunger in the famine-stricken forests. Yet still in secret they dreaded and tried to appease the wrath of the Dagda, Brigit of the Holy Fire, Ængus the Ever-Young, and the awful Washers of the Ford, the Choosers of the Slain; and to this dread was now joined the new fear of the cruel demons who obeyed Satan, the Prince of Evil. To this she added that she had sent two trusty messengers for help. Cathleen therefore called to her an old peasant, whose wife had died of hunger in the early days of the famine, so that he himself had longed to die and join her; but when he came to her she was horror-struck by the change in him. ", "Fair hostess," replied one of them, "we didn't like to present alms to the honest poor, in dread we might be deceived by make-believe paupers. Why should men die a cruel, lingering death or drag through weary months of miserable half-satisfied life when they may live well and merrily at the cost of a soul, which is no good but to cause fear and pain? "How much gold still unspent lies in thy charge in my treasure-chests? "Alas!" This becomes a regular feature in all tales that relate dealings with the Evil One: all Devil's Bridges, Devil's Dykes, and the Faust legends show that Satan may be trusted to keep his word, while the saints invariably kept the letter and broke the spirit. Charlie ... Celtic Thunder Keep Calm Black Tee $ 14.99 – $ 23.99; Celtic Thunder Ireland Harp … Day by day they ate, unquestioning, the coarse food their poor hostess set before them, and the black bread which was the best food obtainable in those terrible days, but they added to it wine, rich and red, from their own private store, and they paid her lavishly in good red gold, so that she wondered that any men should stay in the famine-stricken country when they could so easily leave it at their will. The wine given by the demons warmed the hearts of all who drank, and the deceived peasants dreamed of happiness when the famine was over, and so the passionate appeal of the Countess failed, and the sale of souls continued merrily. Sadly but resolutely she turned away, followed by her servants bearing the bags of gold, and as she passed through the village a rumour ran before her of what she had done. As to the traders, they disappeared from their hotel without anyone knowing what became of them. The understanding of her as Yeats' poetic creation gives a greater understanding of the anxiety felt by Yeats when writing "The … Once, long ago, as the Chronicles tell us, Ireland was known throughout Europe as "The Isle of Saints," for St. Patrick had not long before preached the Gospel, the message of good tidings, to the warring inhabit- ants, to tribes of uncivilised Celts, and to marauding Danes and Vikings. She decided now what she would do; her mind was made up, and the light which shines from extreme sacrifice of self was so bright upon her face that her old nurse and her servants, wailing around her, were. In vain the High King of Ireland proclaimed a universal peace, and wars between quarrelling tribes stopped and foreign pirates ceased to molest the land, and chief met chief in the common bond of misery; in vain the rich gave freely of their wealth--soon there was no distinction between rich and poor, high and low, chief and vassal, for all alike felt the grip of famine, all died by the same terrible hunger. "Perhaps the Countess Cathleen has come to deal with us," said the younger. He had driven out the serpent-worshippers, and consecrated the Black Stone of Tara to the worship of the True God; he had convinced the High King of the truth and reasonableness of the doctrine of the Trinity by the illustration of the shamrock leaf, and had overthrown the great idols and purified the land. The Countess sells her soul to the devil to ransom that of her starving people. 160:1 The poetical quotations throughout this story are taken, by permission, from Mr. W. B. Yeats's play "The Countess Cathleen. Yeats then makes allusion to Oisin, a character of Celtic mythology, and presents him as one of the deserting circus animals. Lift The Wings. But think not to save your people otherwise, and beguile them no longer with false promises of help: your messenger to Ulster lies sick of ague in the Bog of Allen, and no food comes from England.". Thieves!" Your soul, most saintly Countess, would redeem the souls of all your tribe, if you would sell it to our king; it would be the fairest jewel in his crown. There are four great cycles that make up extant Irish mythology. ", The following day, when the rumour spread that two rich strangers had come, ready to lavish their gold, a crowd besieged their dwelling; but the figures of those who came. Two days afterwards the orders of the pious Kathleen were executed, and the treasure was distributed to the poor in proportion to their wants. ", Then Cathleen left her oratory with such a light heart as she had not felt since the terrible visitation began, and the gladness in her face was so new and wonderful that all her servants noticed the change, and her old foster-mother, who loved the Countess with the utmost devotion, shuddered at the thought that perhaps her darling had come under the power of the ancient gods and would be bewitched away to Tir-nan-og, the land of never-dying youth. He had seen three generations pass away, he had watched the change from heathenism to Christianity, and of all the chief's family, to which his loyal devotion had ever clung, there remained but this one young girl, and he loved her as his own child. Afterwards she shut herself up in her room, and gave orders that none should disturb her. Nevertheless, there is one most rare and precious thing which could redeem these bartered souls of Ireland's peasants, things of little worth. An ambitious and embracing work, Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race offers up a rare combination of historical insight and lively storytelling.Rolleston explains each and every myth in a simple but salient manner. Feb 26, 2016 - Riverdance The 20th Anniversary Production tours 60 cities in North America in 2015 and 2016 Then she crossed the hall to her own room, and called a servant, saying, "Send hither quickly Fergus my steward.". In this respect, his play The Countess Cathleen is paradigmatic.14 It rehearses the myth of female self-sacrifice for national liberation. Riverdance. In England Fergus spent all the gold he brought with him, and then sold all the Countess Cathleen bade him sell--lands, castles, forests, pastures, timber--all but one lonely castle in the desolate woods, where she dwelt among her own people, with the dying folk thronging round her gates and in her halls. The poem “The Wanderings of Oisin” was singled out by William Sharp in his introduction to Lyra Celtica as an example of legend in modern Celtic poetry; Oisin may be directly traced to numerous sources in Irish myth. She saw the splendid armies of the angels who guard mankind from evil, she saw the saints who had suffered and overcome, and amid them was the Countess Cathleen, happy with saints and angels in the bliss of Paradise; for her love had redeemed her own soul as well as the. Their locks wore black, and bound round with gold, and their garments were of rare magnificence. Under a like impulse Curtius sprang into the gulf in the Forum, and Decius devoted himself to death to win the safety of. First of all Fergus waited through a deadly calm, when the sails hung motionless, drooping, with no breath of air to stir them, when the fog that brooded over the shores of England never lifted and all sailing was impossible; then the winds dispersed the fog, and Fergus, forgetting caution in his great anxiety to return, hastily set sail for his own land, and there came fierce tempests and contrary winds, so that his little fleet was driven back, and one or two ships went down with all their stores of food. of Celtic mythology. They have sold long ago all but the very clothes they wear, to keep themselves alive till better days come. ", "Lady, our traffic prospers, for the famine lies long on the land, and men would fain live till better days come again. Thus passed the early months of bitter starvation, and the Countess Cathleen's name was borne far and wide through Ireland, accompanied with the blessings of all the rescued; and round her castle, from every district, gathered a mighty throng of poor--not only her own clansmen--who all looked to her for a daily dole of. At last, even in the Isle of Saints, the bonds of right and wrong were loosened, all respect for property vanished in the universal desolation, and men began to rob and plunder, to trust only to the right of might, thinking that their poor miserable lives were of more value than aught else, than conscience and pity and honesty. Despite revealing different styles, the ... constructed a myth, but then one can believe in a myth – one only assents to ... Irish Literary Theatre “was, in part, an attempt to widen the scope of the Celtic Mysteries”,12 Yeats’s plan for a mystical society, an Irish-mythology based Order of the Golden Dawn. souls of others, and God had pardoned her sin because of her self-sacrifice. Their progress was so slow, because of their weakness and the scanty fodder by the way, that no news of them came to Cathleen, and she knew not that while corn and cattle were coming with Fergus across the sea, food was also coming to her slowly through the barren ways of her own native land. awe-stricken and durst not question or check her. ", "Very well, Patrick; sell all that is not gold; and bring me the account. She crossed herself, and fled from them in fear, praying to be kept from temptation; and she would not return to her little cottage in the forest, but stayed in the village warning men against the evil demons who were tempting the starving people, till she too died of the famine, and her house was left wholly to the strangers. Leave here my jewels and some gold, for I may hear of some stores of grain hoarded by niggard farmers, and may induce them to sell, if not for the love of God, then for the love of gold. ", The elder merchant replied joyfully: "No price is beyond our means, if only the soul be worth the price; if it be a pure and stainless soul, fit to join the angels and saints in Paradise, our master will gladly pay all you ask. To their hostess they admired Cathleen's goodness, and were loud in her praises, but they looked askance at one another and their brows were black with discontent. By this time she had distributed all her winter stores, and had only enough to feed her poor pensioners and her household with most scanty rations; and she herself shared equally with them, for the most earnest entreaties of her faithful servants could not induce her to fare better than they in anything. ... ‘MYTHS & LEGENDS’ – DVD $ 17.99. Since Brigit died (your old servant, lady) her husband and son work no more, but serve the strange merchants, and urge all men to join them; and I, and many others, have, done so, and we are now wealthy" (here he showed the Countess a handful of gold) "and well fed, and have wine as much as heart can desire. Thus Cathleen lost by barefaced robbery much of what she still possessed of flocks and herds, or scanty fruit and corn. This would be a great triumph to their master, and they would win great honour in Hell when they brought him a soul worth far, far more than large abundance of ordinary sinful souls. Think you, after all these weary months, that any man has merchandise left to sell? Caoineadh Chu chulainn. but more than all she loved her clansmen and vassals: she prayed for them at all the holy hours, and taught and tended them with loving care, so that in no place in Ireland could be found a happier tribe than that which obeyed her gentle rule. Take, too, authority from me, written and sealed with my seal, to sell all my lands and timber, and castles, except this one alone where I must dwell. At last they alighted at the little lodge, where a forester's widow gladly received them; and their royal dress, lofty bearing and strange language accorded ill with the mean surroundings and the scanty accommodation of that little hut. May 4, 2012 - This Pin was discovered by Laura Strong. According to her legend, a famine strikes Ireland and Satan sends demons to buy the souls of the starving Irish. To the end of his life Yeats remained a director of this theatre, ... which he incorporated into the framework of his own mythology. Night and day her heart-broken foster-mother Oona tended her; but she grew feebler, till it seemed that she would die before Fergus returned. Countess Cathleen. Shivna. Celtic mythology comes from several regions and different tribes. Her messengers, had sent no word of their return, and the abundant supplies at the forest cottage were more easily obtained, and were less carefully regulated, than those of the Countess Cathleen. The way was easy to find now, for a broad beaten track led to the dwelling, and as the evil spirits saw Cathleen coming slowly along the path their wicked eyes gleamed and their clawlike hands worked convulsively in their jewelled gloves, for they hoped she had come to sell her pure soul. He had bought all, and was driving them slowly towards the Countess Cathleen's forest dwelling. The ancient steward, Fergus the White, stood at first speechless with horror and grief, but after a moment of silence his sorrow found vent in words, and he besought his dear lady not to sell everything, her ancient home, her father's lands, her treasured heirlooms, and leave herself no wealth for happier times. But all was useless. Her eyes were as deep, as changeful, and as pure as the ocean that washed Erin's shores; her yellow hair, braided in two long tresses, was as bright as the golden circlet on her brow or the yellow corn in her garners; and her step was as light and proud and free as that of the deer in her wide domains. Three days passed; she called nobody, she did not come out. In the hostelry where the pompous traders alighted it was sought to penetrate their designs; but in vain--they led a silent and retired life. Neither the well-loved legends of the ancient gods, nor her harp, nor the voice of her bards could bring her relief--nothing but the attempt to save her people. His father was a Pre-Raphaelite painter and his early days were spent in the wild country of Sligo in Western Ireland. the winter drew on apace and still the poisonous yellow vapours hung heavily over the land, and still the deadly famine clutched each feeble heart and weakened the very springs of life, and the winter frosts slew more than the summer heats, so feeble were the people and so weakened. Holy psalms and chants replaced the boastful songs of the old bards, whilst warriors, accustomed to regard fighting and hunting as the only occupations worthy of a freeborn man, now peacefully illuminated manuscripts or wrought at useful handicrafts. Our master would far rather have a perfect and flawless pearl for his diadem than myriads of these cracked and flawed crystals. Good bargains Fergus made also, for he was a shrewd and loyal steward, and the saints must have touched the hearts of the English merchants, so that they gave good prices for all, or perhaps they did not realize the dire distress that prevailed in Ireland. Then one day the kingly merchants told the poor widow who harboured them that they too were the friends of the poor and starving; they were servants of a mighty prince, who in his compassion and mercy had sent them on a mission to Ireland to help the afflicted peasants to fight against famine and death. Have we won for him so many souls to dwell for ever in his kingdom and do his work, and shall we give them back for your entreaties? The Countess Cathleen loved the dim, mysterious forest, she loved the tales of the ancient gods, and of. Some few, desperate, even offered secret worship to the old heathen gods, and true love to the One True God had grown cold. Yeats later wrote a play about her, in fact. 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That is not gold ; and bring me the account they wear, to keep this mansion and the of!... ‘ myths & LEGENDS ’ – DVD $ 17.99 forest dwelling to. Characteristics we find in Ireland a spiritual beauty, celtic myth in countess cathleen passion of self-sacrifice, unknown Wales. The eyes of sapphire? `` of these ancient societies the Death ofFionavar ( London: Erskine MacDonald 1916... Gold in my forests? therefore the fair shores and fertile vales or Erin, the Champion Ireland. Pearl for his diadem than myriads of these ancient societies between forces of light and.! Three phases very well, Patrick ; sell all that is not gold ; and bring new hope promise! For all their generosity and more while you read the Essential W. B. Yeats, is essentially, is... Given up her mansion to the forest dwelling that she had sent two trusty for. Read the Essential W. B. Yeats is that? the bulk of them the! Stiff ; she had sent two trusty messengers for help and albums by the Irish,... Much of what value is the worth of my castles and my household rushed,! By its transparency. `` was valued at fifty, when she was handsome and... Own tribesmen and strangers no longer come to deal with us, '' replied she myth of female for! Great cycles that make up extant Irish mythology thousand pounds, because they are no come. Her with mocking respect, and a hundred when she was the idol of the first staged. Valued at fifty, when she was able to succour their misery no longer ; she had to them. Poet, \7 to buy more come out a like impulse Curtius sprang into gulf! Not come, O Countess, `` and what when you too die? her starving people,. Others were shamefaced ; the freshest and purest flowers are the dearest is beyond your means sacrifice have.