The Voyage of Bran, Son of Febal, to the Land of the
It was fifty quatrains the woman from unknown lands sang on the floor of the
house to Bran, son of Febal, when the royal house was full of kings, who knew
not whence the woman had come, since the ramparts were closed
This is the beginning of the story. One day, in the neighbourhood of his
stronghold, Bran went about alone, when he heard music behind him. As often
as he looked back, 'twas still behind him the music was. At last he fell
asleep at the music, such was its sweetness. When he awoke from his sleep, he
saw close by him a branch of silver with white blossoms, nor was it easy to
distinguish its bloom from that branch. Then Bran took the branch in his hand
to his royal house. 'Twas then she sang the fifty quatrains to Bran, while the
host heard her, and all beheld the woman.
And she said:
'A branch of the apple tree from Emain
I bring, like those one knows;
Twigs of white silver are on it,
Crystal brows with blossoms.
'There is a distant isle
Around which sea horses glisten:
A fair course against the white-swelling surge,
Four feet uphold it.
'A delight of the eyes, a glorious range,
Is the plain on which the hosts hold games
Coracle contends against chariot
In southern Mag Findargat.
Feet of white bronze under it
Glittering through beautiful ages.
Lovely land throughout the world's age,
On which the many blossoms drop.
'An ancient tree there is with blossoms,
On which birds call to the Hours.
'Tis in harmony it is their wont
To call together every hour.
Splendours of every colour glisten
Throughout the gentle-voiced plains.
Joy is known, ranked around music,
In southern Mag Argatne.
'Unknown is wailing or treachery
In the familiar cultivated land.
There is nothing rough or harsh,
But sweet music striking on th ear.
'Without grief, without sorrow. without death,
Without any sickness, without debility,
That is the sign of Emain -
Uncommon is an equal marvel.
'A beauty of a wondrous land,
Whose aspects are lovely,
Whose view is a fair country,
Incomparable is its haze.
'Then if Aircthech is seen,
On which dragonstones and crystals drop
The sea washes the wave against the land,
Hair of crystal drops from its mane.
'Wealth, treasures of every hue,
Are in Ciuin, a beauty of freshness,
Listening to sweet music,
Drinking the best of wine.
Golden chariots in Mag Rein,
Rising with the tide to the sun,
Chariots of silver in Mag Mon,
And of bronze without blemish.
Yellow golden steeds are on the sward there,
Other steeds with crimson hue,
Others with wool upon their backs
Of the hue of heaven all- blue.
'At sunrise there will come
A fair man illumining level lands,
He rides upon the fair sea-washed plain,
He stirs the ocean till it is blood.
'A boat will come across the clear sea,
To the land they show their rowing,
Then they row to the conspicuous stone,
From which arise a hundred strains.
'It sings a strain unto the host
Through long ages it is not sad,
Its music swells with choruses of hundreds-
They look for neither decay nor death.
'Many -shaped Emne by the sea,
Whether it be near, or whether it be far,
In which are many thousands of motley women,
Which the clear sea encircles.
'If he has heard the voice of the music,
The chorus of the little birds from Imchiuin,
A small band of women will come from a height
To the plain of sport in which he is.
'There will come happiness with health
To the land against which laughter peals,
Intio Imchiuin at every season
Will come everlasting joys.
'It is a day of lasting weather
That showers silver on the lands,
A pure-white cliff on the range of the sea,
Which from the sun receives its heat.
'The host race along Mag Mon,
A beautiful game, not feeble,
In the variegated land over a mass of beauty
They look for neither decay nor death.
'Listening to music at night,
And going into Ildacthach,
A variegated land, splendour on a diadem of beauty,
Whence the white cloud glistens.
'There are thrice fifty different isles
In the ocean to the west of us,
Larger than Erin twice
Is each of them, or thrice.
'A great birth will come after ages,
That will not be in a lofty place,
The son of a woman whose mate will not be known,
He will seize the rule of many thousands.
'A rule without beginning, without end,
He has created the world so that it is perfect,
Whose are earth and sea,
Woe to him that shall be under His unwill!
'Tis He that made the heavens,
Happy he that has a white heart,
He will purify hosts under pure water,
'Tis He that will heal your sickness.
'Not to all of you is my speech,
Though its great marvel has been made known.
Let Bran hear from the crowd of the world
What of wisdom has been told to him.
'Do not fall on a bed of sloth,
Let not thy intoxication overcome thee,
Begin a voyage across the clear sea,
If perchance thou mayest reach the land of women.
Thereupon the woman went from them, while they knew not whither she went.
And she took her branch with her. The branch sprang from Bran's hand into the
hand of the woman, nor was there strength in Bran's hand to hold the branch.
Then on the morrow Bran went upon the sea. The number of his men was three
companies of nine. One of his foster-brothers and mates was set over each of
the three companies of nine. When he had been at sea two days and two nights,
he saw a man in a chariot coming towards him over the sea. That man also sang
thirty other quatrains to him, and made himself known to him, and said that he
was Manannan the son of Ler, and said that it was upon him to go to Ireland
after long ages, and that a son would be born to him, even Mongan son of
Fiachna-that was the name which would be upon him.
So he sang these thirty quatrains to him
'Bran deems it a marvellous beauty
In his coracle across the clear sea:
While to me in my chariot from afar
It is a flowery plain on which he rides about.
'What is a clear sea
For the prowed skiff in which Bran is,
That is a happy plain with profusion of flowers
To me from the chariot of two wheels.
The number of waves beating across the clear sea:
I myself see in Mag Mon
Red-headed flowers without fault.
'Sea horses glisten in summer
As far as Bran has stretched his glance
Rivers pour forth a stream of honey
In the land of Manannan, son of Ler.
'The sheen of the main, on which thou art,
The white hue of the sea, on which thou rowest about,
Yellow and azure are spread out,
It is land, and is not rough.
'Speckled salmon leap from the womb
Of the whole sea, on which thou lookest:
They are calves, they are coloured lambs
With friendliness, without mutual slaughter.
'Though (but) one chariot-rider is seen
In Mag Mell of many flowers,
There are many steeds on its surface,
Though them thou seest not.
'The size of the plain, the number of the host,
Colours glisten with pure glory,
A fair stream of silver, cloths of gold,
Afford a welcome with all abundance.
'A beautiful game, most delightful,
They play (sitting) at the luxurious wine,
Men and gentle women under a bush,
Without sin, without crime.
'Along the top of a wood has swum
Thy coracle across ridges,
There is a wood of beautiful fruit
Under the prow of thy little skiff.
'A wood with blossoms and fruit,
On which is the vine's veritable fragrance,
A wood without decay, without defect,
On which are leaves of golden hue.
'We are from the beginning of creation
Without old age, without consummation of earth,
Hence we expect not that there should be
. . . . . . . . . . . line missing . . . . . . . . . . .
Thereupon Bran went from him. And he saw an island. He rows round about it,
and a large host was gaping and laughing. They were all looking at Bran and
his people, but would not stay to converse with them. They continued to give
forth gusts of laughter at them. Bran sent one of his people on the island.
He ranged himself with the others, and was gaping at them like the other men
of the island. He kept rowing round the island. Whenever his man came past
Bran, his comrades would address him. But he would not converse with them,
but would only look at them and gape at them. The name of this island is the
Island of Joy. Thereupon they left him there.
It was not long thereafter when they reached the Land of Women. They saw the
leader of the women at the port. Said the chief of the women: 'Come hither on
land, O Bran, son of Febal! Welcome is thy advent!' Bran did not venture to
go on shore. The woman throws a ball of thread to Bran straight over his
face. Bran put his hand on the ball, which clave to his palm. The thread of
the ball was in the woman's hand, and she pulled the coracle towards the port.
Thereupon they went into a large house, in which was a bed for every couple,
even thrice nine beds. The food that was put on every dish vanished not from
them. It seemed a year to them that they were there,.- it chanced to be many
years. No savour was wanting to them.
Home-sickness seized one of them, even Nechtan the son of Collbran. His
kindred kept praying Bran that he should go to Ireland with him. The woman
said to them their going would make them rue. However, they went, and the
woman said that none of them should touch the land, and that they should visit
and take with them the man whom they had left in the Island of Joy.
Then they went until they arrived at a gathering at Srub Brain. The men asked
of them who it was came over the sea. Said Bran,'I am Bran the son of Febal,'
saith he. However the other saith,'We do not know such a one, though the
voyage of Bran is in our ancient stories.'
The man leaps from them out of the coracle. As soon as he touched the earth
of Ireland, forthwith he was a heap of ashes, as though he had been in the
earth for many hundred years. 'Twas then that Bran sang this quatrain:
'For Collbran's son, great was the folly
To lift his hand against age,
Without anyone casting a wave of pure water
Over Nechtan, Collbran's son.
Thereupon, to the people of the gathering Bran told all his wanderings from
the beginning until that time. And he wrote these quatrains in Ogham, and
then bade them farewell.
And from that time, his wanderings are not known.