Neil McLeod wrote:
> > sets out with a silver branch above him... A golden branch...
> > above the chief poets. A branch of bronze (or copper) above
> > all the other poets]
> This passage is dealt with in passing by Liam Breatnach at p 94 of his
> edition of Uraicecht na Ríar (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1987).
> He doesn't advert to the specific issue you refer to, simply translating
> 'branch'. Nor does he mention any parallels for these badges of rank, and
> he is always extremely thorough.
Thanks, Neil. I just checked "flesc" (rod, wand, stick) in DIL,
and found a number of relevant citations under "flesc filed (fileta)",
(a) "a poet's wand, stave":
"ro gabastair ... a fhlesc fhileta fhindruine"
"ro chroith a fhlesc fhileta fhiled i ndorus in baile 7
do chuala in dóirseoir in fuaim sin"
(b) "poet's fillet, wreath (mark of his calling)":
"fleasg file fána cheann"
"flesc fhionndruine ima chenn"
I'll need to check these in context (mostly in Silva Gadelica),
but it looks like "flesc" and "cráeb" (branch) might have been
used interchangably. It certainly looks like there was a fairly
strong tradition, literary at least, of poets carrying/wearing
badges of office made of metal (findruine = white bronze (?)).
The second quotation under (a), "he shook his poet's poetic
rod in the doorway of the town and the doorkeeper heard that
sound" interestingly suggests that the "flesc" had moving parts,
perhaps rings or bells, that would jingle or rattle.