Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Tain

Who doesn't love a good epic poem?
Well, OK, it's not the lightest reading in the world. But as epic poems go, The Tain is pretty good. This eighth-century poem from Ireland has all the elements so standard to the genre. Strapping warriors, blood feuds, gods and mortals, grievous injuries, comically exaggerated feats and more. The thing is, in this case, it's all done in a Celtic flavor that's surprisingly distinct from, say, Beowulf or The Odyssey. One example is the hero, Cu Chulainn's, ability to hold whole armies at bay with scrawled runes on wooden hoops tossed over a stone pillar. There's a sense of unquestioned magic, complete with druids and seers, and faeries and goblins that lurk in the background but never enter the plot.
It's good stuff if you're into that kind of thing.


At 9:12 PM, Blogger Cari said...

I forgot to ask you when we were talking about it if the poem had stuff about the Irish gods. I did some studying of that in college, but no mention of this poem! I'll have to check this one out.


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