In "Women Poets in Early Medieval Ireland", Thomas Owen Clancy
discusses the work of known women poets in late medieval and
early modern Gaelic Scotland. Among them was Iseabail Ní Mheic
Cailéin, Countess of Argyle in the fifteenth century, "a love-
poet who belonged to a witty Clan Campbell court circle".
Clancy notes that one of her poems "is a fairly obscene boast
to the court circle on the size and potency of her household
priest's penis. The authenticity of the attribution to Iseabail
has been questioned, but without substantial grounds. It has
not yet been properly edited, or translated in published form."
Can we pass up this challenge?
Quiggin gives a diplomatic edition of the poem in _Poems from
the Book of the Dean of Lismore_ (Cambridge, 1937), and here
it is, highly eccentric spelling and all:
LXII: Autor huius Contissa Ergadien Issobell
Estyf, a lucht in ti so,
re skail na bod breour,
dy hantyth mo chreissy
cwt dane skallow dy screyf.
Da leneour bod braiwillycht
dy vy sin amsyr royn,
tak far in nvrd c*rawe so
bod is c*af mor roynne.
Bod mo haggird horistil
ga ty go fad sessowyT,
otha keynn an quhallavir
in reyf ata na vackann.
Atta reyf roiravyr
an sin sne skail breg,
noTcha cholai choyravyr
woa vod arriss es.
* = punctum delens
T = a small raised 't'
How about this: first we restore it to standard orthography,
then we construct a translation? Who will take a stab at the
first line or two? I just got hold of it this afternoon. It
looks to me at the moment like a Manx jigsaw puzzle full of