Posted on January 15th, 2016 | by Leslie

0

These Shapes Three

Notes on Track 2

Imagine you’re a goddess of battle, an instigator, a shapeshifter, a real work of art.  The ideal patroness for a warrior.  Now the guy you’ve chosen to bestow your favour upon, to basically make invincible, is the champion of Ulster.  Perfect!

Except he’s an idiot and says he’d rather do it on his own.  Huh.  Wonder how that worked out for him.

Source

  • The Tain, trans. by Thomas Kinsella from the Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailnge.
    (Oxford UP: Oxford, 1969, 1990) p 132-137.

Lyrics

The Morrigan, in woman’s form
Came looking for Cuchulainn
To offer him her favour
As a lover and a guardian
“Be off with you, I do not need
Your comp’ny or distraction
It isn’t for a woman’s sake
I fight as Ulster’s champion!”

“Be careful what you say to me
For I am no mere maiden
And you will suffer greatly
When you’re most in need of saving
I’ll come against you thrice, I will
Around your feet entangling
To trip and trample, bite and tear
Your entrails all a-dangling”

Eel in the water
And she-wolf I’ll be
And hornless red heifer
These shapes three
For I am the Morrigan
And you’re just a man
Whose body will feed
My corvid clan

“I’ll be in the water when
You’re fighting at the ford”
Cuchulainn said, “I’ll crack your ribs
And I won’t need my sword”
“Then I’ll become a wolf and
I will drive the beasts against you”
He said, “I’ll sling a stone and blind
Your eye, until I bless you”

“Then I will be a blood-red cow
To bring the herd stampeding
Your enemy will fall upon you
Broken there and bleeding”
“I’ll throw a stone to break your leg”
The bold Cuchulainn claimed
“Until my blessing you receive
You’ll be a woman maimed”

Eel in the water
And she-wolf I’ll be
And hornless red heifer
These shapes three
For I am the Morrigan
And you’re just a man
Whose body will feed
My corvid clan
Yes, your body will feed
My corvid clan

All they promised came to pass
The champion was spent
He found a woman milking who was
Squint-eyed, lame and bent
“Woman, give me milk!” he cried
Without a word she did
“Good health to you” – a wound was healed
As smiling face she hid

Another drink, another blessing
Then again, a third
Whole at last the woman rose
And then Cuchulainn heard:
“You said you’d never heal me”
As the Morrigan turned ‘round
“If I’d known it was you,” he said
“I’d not have made a sound!”

Eel in the water
And she-wolf I’ll be
And hornless red heifer
These shapes three
For I am the Morrigan
And you’re just a man
Whose body will feed
My corvid clan
Yes, your body will feed
My corvid clan
For I am a raven
And you’re just a man

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