Mac Dathó's Pig
No feast of friends, this: Mac Dathó slaughters
his monstrous pig, fattened on milk and spite,
stretched over nine hearths on an oak-trunk spit,
turned and roasted by three fifties of cooks:
sweating, they serve it up - with forty oxen
as garnish, mind you - to feed Ulaid and Connaught.
Anlúan greets the Ulstermen, and utters a blood-gush of fine speech; allows that Conall Cernach carve the champion's portion -
who tears off rump and shoulders with his teeth,
and flings the Connaughta bare bones and trotters.
Each man starts up, a salmon leaping skyward,
an ocean wave to crash against his fellows,
a wolf's wide gullet, a grinning gallows,
a thirsty spear, a boar's-tusk sharp with death,
a tower of blood, a warrior's moon at full,
a lightning storm of sword-sparks, a bull
to slay hard veterans just with angry looks.
Smoking brains are splashed across the rafters;
mead-vats tipped; the house, lopsided, totters,
its walls redecorated, splinters scattered;
dining-hall and doorways all corpse-littered;Read the original Legend of Mac Dathó
the heroes' dinners cooling on their plates:
such worthies always relish fierce debates.
Paul Stevens was born in Sheffield, England, but has lived most of his life in Australia. In previous incarnations he has been a brickies' labourer, fettler and sandal-maker. He studied Archaeology and Mediaeval Studies, including Old Irish, at the University of Sydney. Now he teaches Literature, Ancient History and Historiography, and has published on the Julio-Claudians, as well as poetry and literary criticism.
Table Of Contents    Next Poem    Guidelines