One finds, as one expects, in the work of men who were not troubled about any probabilities or necessities but those of emotion itself, an immense variety of incident and character and of ways of expressing emotion. Cuchulain fights man after man during the quest of the Brown Bull, and not one of those fights is like another, and not one is lacking in emotion or strangeness ; and when one thinks imagination can do no more, the story of the Two Bulls, emblematic of all contests, suddenly lifts romance into prophecy. The characters too have a distinctness one does not find among the people of the Mabinogion, perhaps not even among the people of the Morte D'Arthur. One knows one will be long forgetting Cuchulain, whose life is vehement and full of pleasure, as though he always remembered that it was to be soon over ; or the dreamy Fergus who betrays the sons of Usnach for a feast, without ceasing to be noble ; or Conall who is fierce and friendly and trustworthy, but has not the sap of divinity that makes Cuchulain mysterious to men, and beloved of women. Women indeed, with their lamentations for lovers and husbands and sons, and for fallen roof trees and lost wealth, give the stories their most beautiful sentences ; and, after Cuchulain, one thinks most of certain great queens—of angry, amorous Maeve, with her long pale face ; of Findabair, her daughter, who dies of shame and of pity ; of Deirdre who might be some mild modern housewife but for her prophetic wisdom.

 

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Cuchulain of Muirthemne- The Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster - Lady

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