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Subject: Re: Sith co nem 8
From: Neil McLeod <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 20 Jan 2007 11:22:30 +0900

text/plain (70 lines)

uích a mbuaib 
Boinn a mbru.
brú la fefaid 
ossglas iaer.

Here are my thoughts on these lines. 

uích a mbuaib.  The previous 4 lines describe concrete things which are
'inherent' or 'essential' in other things (a knot in tree, a tree in a
fire, a spark in a flint, a stone in the soil). Could this line be
"íach[t] i mbuaib"? ‘bellowing in cattle’? Personally I doubt it -
because 'bellowing' is not a concrete thing. "Bellowing from cattle"
would make more sense I think - but that would require us to amend to
"íacht a buaib".

I have a more radical suggestion. I think the line would fit very nicely
with what has gone before if we take a deep breath and amend to "iaich i
mBoinn" - 'salmon (plural of eó) in the Boyne'. (The Boyne is notorious
as the place for finding the salmon of knowledge.) This would give us
yet another example of the last word in one line being repeated as the
first word of the next (as with scís/scís mac/mac muin/muinél tairb/tarb
crann/crann ten/tene ail/ail). The phrase "i mBoinn" would quite
regularly be written as "amboi=" (with the double 'n' stroke over the
i). This could have been misread as "a mbuaib" which would regularly be
written as "ambu-".

Boinn a mbru. I take the first word to be a later dative in place of the
nominative "Boand", the river Boyne. "Brú" I take to mean 'brink, shore,
river bank'. I treat the preposition as "i" and interpret "i mbrú" to
mean "in [its] course, in its bed". (In English we would use a plural
"in its banks", and it maybe that Irish would too, in which case my
suggestion doesn't hold water - ha ha.)

Bru la fefaid. I suggest "bru ('river-bank') la fefaid" is related to
"trachd ('shore') la feabrae" coming up later in the rosc. In both cases
we might have the preposition 'la' followed by a compound formed with
'feb' (excellence). Given that the next line here begins with a vowel
(ossglas ...), it would be nice if the second element of the compound in
this line did as well. For example, we might read this as a compound
"feb-ád", 'excellent prosperity'. (One problem is that 'ád' appears to
be a u-stem, which won't give us the palatal accusative in '-aid' which
we have in the MS.) If the preposition 'la' can mean 'lined with,
bounded by' (cf DIL L 2 .32f and 73f) then "Brú la feb-ád" might mean
'river-brink bounded by excellent prosperity' - a reference to the
fertility and fecundity of the Boyne valley. An alternative would be to
see this as a compound of 'feb' + 'fáith, fáid' (prophet); but I can't
really make convincing sense of the line doing that. (We lose the
alliteration, but it is closer to the MS.) Another alternative is the
u-stem 'fáth' (prophecy), which would make more sense than 'fáith'
(prophet), but would fail to produce the palatal ending (and the

ossglas iaer. I think "oss"' here might be "ás(s)". [If the compound in
the previous line is with 'fáth', we would have our third example in
this poem of a word starting with á- alliterating with a word merely
containing 'á' as its first vowel]. So here we might have "áss-glas i
n-aer", 'green growth [sprouting] into the air'. 


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