“Ro-pad inmain oen-fher forsa-mbetis na tri dath ucut .i. in folt amal in fíach ocus in grúad amal in fuil ocus in corp amal in snechta.”
“Orddan ocus tocad duit!” ar in Lebarcham, “ Ni cían úait. Atá is’taig it arrad .i. Noísi mac Usnig.”
“Ni-pam slán-sa ám,” ol-si, “conid n-accur-saide.”
Once upon a time, then, the girl’s foster-father was skinning a weaned calf in the snow upon the plain in winter to cook it for her. And she saw something – the raven drinking the blood upon the snow. And then she said to Lebarcham: “Beloved would be the one man upon whom were those three colours: hair like raven, a cheek like the blood, and a body like the snow.”
“Dignity and good luck to you!” said Lebarcham. “He is not far from you. He is inside near to you - Noísi the son of Uisnech.”
“Truly, I shall not be well” she said, “until I see him.”
Longes mac nUislenn is one of the very few works of Celtic art that respond usefully to a Structuralist approach, in which every fragment of the text is read in relation to the whole. (Critical theory-based approaches very rarely work with medieval Celtic literature; ambiguity, disjunction, fracture and compositeness are so much at the forefront of the texts that such approaches feel cumbersome and blunt. In many cases, it's as though the texts have already been deconstructed before we even get to them.) The text is amazingly rich; recurrent animal images flicker through the text, there are mysterious uses of sounds and echoes to pattern the story, and Deirdre is one of the most compelling heroines in all of Celtic literature, which is not short of powerful female characters. All of this written in a language that resembles the kind of thing a group of whisky-sodden Indo-Europeanists might have devised whilst on an especially weird acid-trip. It's just bloody brilliant.