>> fa sret[h] sinni ar sás
>> we were a following in which he was satisfied.
> "Fa" = "ba", right?
>"fa sreth sinni" = lit. we were a rank
Yes. I think ‘following’ is an OK translation for ‘sreth’. DIL has
instances of it in the meaning ‘troops’ and ‘train’. In our stanza I
take it to mean basically ‘underlings’; literally ‘those strewn beneath
[someone of high status]’. They maybe have been his troops (having
fought with him), or perhaps just loyal adherents.
> DIL points to a somewhat mysterious idiom, clearly late,
> at S 63.18, exemplified by this half-stanza:
> atám ar sás luit Í Fhloind;
> fan cruit do fhás in fhochainn.
> I translate this as:
> we are prepared to destroy Ó Floinn;
> the cause (of war) grew over a harp.
> fa sret[h] sinni ar sás = we were a (well-)prepared rank
Yes, that would work I think.
I guess there are a couple of things that I still prefer about my
interpretation: “we were a following with which he was pleased”. First,
it matches the construction of line (b), and so seems the more obvious
choice. Second, while both interpretations suggest a possible motive for
the patron’s munificence in regard to the loan of the book, mine states
explicitly that he was indeed pleased. (The poet may be slipping in a
gentle reminder of how pleased his patron was, to support the suggestion
in the very next stanza that further munificence wouldn’t be out of
But either interpretation is open I think.