The Voyage of Bran, Son of Febal
To the Land of the
It was fifty quatrains the woman from unknown lands sang on the floor
of the house to Bran son of Febal, when the royal house was full of kings,
who knew not whence the woman had come, since the ramparts were
This is the beginning of the story. One day, in the neighbourhood of
his stronghold, Bran went about alone, when he heard music behind him. As
often as he looked back, 'twas still behind him the music was. At last he
fell asleep at the music, such was its sweetness. When he awoke from his
sleep, he saw close by him a branch of silver with white blossoms, nor was
it easy to distinguish its bloom from that branch. Then Bran took the
branch in his hand to his royal house. When the hosts were in the royal
house, they saw a woman in strange raiment on the floor of the house.
'Twas then she sang the fifty quatrains to Bran, while the host heard her,
and all beheld the woman.
|And she said:
'A branch of the apple-tree from Emain
I bring, like those one
Twigs of white silver are on it,
Crystal brows with blossoms.
' There is a distant isle,
Around which sea-horses glisten:
fair course against the white-swelling surge,
Four feet uphold it.
|'A delight of the eyes, a glorious range,|
Is the plain on which the
hosts hold games:
Coracle contends against chariot
In southern Mag
'Feet of white bronze under it
Glittering through beautiful
Lovely land throughout the world's age,
On which the many
|'An ancient tree there is with blossoms,
On which birds call to the
'Tis in harmony it is their wont
To call together every Hour.
'Splendours of every colour glisten
Throughout the gentle-voiced
Joy is known, ranked around music,
In southern Mag Argatné
|'Unknown is wailing or treachery |
In the familiar cultivated
There is nothing rough or harsh,
But sweet music striking on
'Without grief, without sorrow, without death,
sickness, without debility,
That is the sign of Emain -
an equal marvel.
|'A beauty of a wondrous land,
Whose aspects are lovely,
view is a fair country,
Incomparable is its haze.
'Then if Aircthech is seen,
On which dragonstones and crystals
The sea washes the wave against the land,
Hair of crystal drops
from its mane.
|'Wealth, treasures of every hue,|
Are in Ciuin, a beauty of
Listening to sweet music,
Drinking the best of wine.
'Golden chariots in Mag Réin,
Rising with the tide to the
Chariots of silver in Mag Mon,
And of bronze without blemish.
|'Yellow golden steeds are on the sward there,|
Other steeds with
Others with wool upon their backs
Of the hue of heaven
'At sunrise there will come
A fair man illumining level lands;
rides upon the fair sea-washed plain,
He stirs the ocean till it is
'A host will come across the clear sea,|
To the land
they show their rowing;
Then they row to the conspicuous stone,
which arise a hundred strains.
'It sings a strain unto the host
Through long ages, it is not
lts music swells with choruses of hundreds-
They look for neither
decay nor death.
|'Many-shaped Emne by the sea,
Whether it be near, whether it be
In which are many thousands of motley women,
Which the clear
'If he has heard the voice of the music,
The chorus of the little
birds from Imchiuin,
A small band of women will come from a
To the plain of sport in which he is.
|'There will come happiness with health|
To the land against which
Into Imchiuin at every season
Will come everlasting
'It is a day of lasting weather
That showers silver on the
A pure-white cliff on the range of the sea,
Which from the
sun receives its heat.
|'The host race along Mag Mon,
A beautiful game, not feeble,
the variegated land over a mass of beauty
They look for neither decay
'Listening to music at night,
And going into Ildathach,
variegated land, splendour on a diadem of beauty,
Whence the white
|'There are thrice fifty distant isles|
In the ocean to the west of
Larger than Erin twice
Is each of them, or thrice.
'A great birth will come after ages,
That will not be in a lofty
The son of a woman whose mate will not be known,
seize the rule of the many thousands.
|'A rule without beginning, without end,
He has created the world so
that it is perfect,
Whose are earth and sea,
Woe to him that shall
be under His unwill!
'Tis He that made the heavens,
Happy he that has a white
He will purify hosts under pure water,
'Tis He that will heal
|'Not to all of you is my speech,|
Though its great marvel has been
Let Bran hear from the crowd of the world
What of wisdom
has been told to him.
'Do not fall on a bed of sloth,
Let not thy intoxication overcome
Begin a voyage across the clear sea,
If perchance thou mayst
reach the land of women.
Thereupon the woman went from them, while they knew not whither she
went. And she took her branch with her. The branch sprang from Bran's hand
into the hand of the woman, nor was there strength in Bran's hand to hold
Then on the morrow Bran went upon the sea. The number of his men was
three companies of nine. One of his foster-brothers and mates was set over
each of the three companies of nine. When he had been at sea two days and
two nights, he saw a man in a chariot coming towards him over the sea.
That man also sang thirty other quatrains to him, and made himself known
to him, and said that he was Manannan the son of Ler, and said that it was
upon him to go to Ireland after long ages, and that a son would be bom to
him, even Mongan son of Fiachna-that was the name which would be upon
|So he sang these thirty quatrains to him:
'Bran deems it a marvellous beauty
In his coracle across the clear
While to me in my chariot from afar
It is a flowery plain on
which he rides about.
'What is a clear sea
For the prowed skiff in which Bran is,
is a happy plain with profusion of flowers
To me from the chariot of
The number of waves beating across the clear sea:
myself see in Mag Mon
Red-headed flowers without fault.
'Sea-horses glisten in summer
As far as Bran has stretched his
Rivers pour forth a stream of honey
In the land of Manannan
son of Ler.
'The sheen of the main, on which thou art,
The white hue of the sea,
on which thou rowest about,
Yellow and azure are spread out,
land, and is not rough.
'Speckled salmon leap from the womb
Of the white sea, on which thou
They are calves, they are coloured lambs
without mutual slaughter.
'Though (but) one chariot-rider is seen
In Mag Mell of many
There are many steeds on its surface,
Though them thou
'The size of the plain, the number of the host,
Colours glisten with
A fair stream of silver, cloths of gold,
welcome with all abundance.
'A beautiful game, most delightful,
They play (sitting) at the
Men and gentle women under a bush,
'Along the top of a wood has swum
Thy coracle across
There is a wood of beautiful fruit
Under the prow of thy
'A wood with blossom and fruit,
On which is the vine's veritable
A wood without decay, without defect,
On which are leaves
of golden hue.
'We are from the beginning of creation
Without old age, without
consummation of earth,
Hence we expect not that there should be
The sin has not come to us.
'An evil day when the Serpent went
To the father to his city!
has perverted the times in this world,
So that there came decay which
was not original.
'By greed and lust he has slain us,
Through which he has ruined his
The withered body has gone to the fold of torment,
everlasting abode of torture.
'It is a law of pride in this world
To believe in the creatures, to
Overthrow by diseases, and old age,
Destruction of the
soul through deception.
'A noble salvation will come
From the King who has created us,
white law will come over seas,
Besides being God, He will be man.
'This shape, he on whom thou lookest,
Will come to thy
'Tis mine to journey to her house,
To the woman in Line-mag.
'For it is Moninnan, the son of Ler,
From the chariot in the shape
of a man,
Of his progeny will be a very short while
A fair man in a
body of white clay.
'Monann, the descendant of Ler, will be
A vigorous bed-fellow to
He shall be called to his son in the beautiful
Fiachna will acknowledge him as his son.
'He will delight the company of every fairy-knoll,
He will be the
darling of every goodly land,
He will make known secrets-a course of
In the world, without being feared.
'He will be in the shape of every beast,
Both on the azure sea and
He will be a dragon before hosts at the onset,
He will be a
wolf of every great forest.
'He will be a stag with horns of silver
In the land where chariots
He will be a speckled salmon in a full pool,
He will be
a seal, he will be a fair-white swan.
'He will be throughout long ages
An hundred years in fair
He will cut down battalions,-a lasting grave-
redden fields, a wheel around the track.
'It will be about kings with a champion
That he will be known as a
Into the strongholds of a land on a height
send an appointed end from Islay.
'High shall I place him with princes,
He will be overcome by a son
Moninnan, the son of Ler,
Will be his father, his tutor.
'He will be-his time will be short-
Fifty years in this world:
dragonstone from the sea will kill him
In the fight at Senlabor.
'He will ask a drink from Loch Ló,
While he looks at the stream of
The white host will take him under a wheel of clouds
gathering where there is no sorrow.
'Steadily then let Bran row,
Not far to the Land of Women,
with many hues of hospitality
Thou wilt reach before the setting of the
Thereupon Bran went from him. And he saw an island. He rows round
about it, and a large host was gaping and laughing. They were all looking
at Bran and his people, but would not stay to converse with them. They
continued to give forth gusts of laughter at them. Bran sent one of his
people on the island. He ranged himself with the others, and was gaping at
them like the other men of the island. He kept rowing round about the
island. Whenever his man came past Bran, his comrades would address him.
But he would not converse with them, but would only look at them and gape
at them. The name of this island is the Island of Joy. Thereupon they left
It was not long thereafter when they reached the Land of Women. They
saw the leader of the women at the port. Said the chief of the women:
'Come hither on and, O Bran son of Febal! Welcome is thy advent!' Bran did
not venture to go on shore. The woman throws a ball of thread to Bran
straight over his face. Bran put his hand on the ball, which clave to his
palm. The thread of the ball was in the woman's hand, and she pulled the
coracle towards the port. Thereupon they went into a large house, in which
was a bed for every couple, even thrice nine beds. The food that was put
on every dish vanished not from them. It seemed a year to them that they
were there,-it chanced to be many years. No savour was wanting to them.
Home-sickness seized one of them, even Nechtan the son of Collbran. His
kindred kept praying Bran that he should go to Ireland with him. The woman
said to them their going would make them rue. However, they went, and the
woman said that none of them should touch the land, and that they should
visit and take with them the man whom they had left in the Island of Joy.
Then they went until they arrived at a gathering at Srub Brain. The men
asked of them who it was came over the sea. Said Bran: 'I am Bran the son
of Febal,' saith he. However, the other saith: 'We do not know such a one,
though the Voyage of Bran is in our ancient stories.'
The man leaps from them out of the coracle. As soon as he touched the
earth of Ireland, forthwith he was a heap of ashes, as though he had been
in the earth for many hundred years. 'Twas then that Bran sang this
|'For Collbran's son, great was the folly
To lift his hand against
Without any one casting a wave of pure water
Thereupon, to the people of the gathering Bran told all his wanderings
from the beginning until that time. And he wrote these quatrains in Ogam,
and then bade them farewell. And from that hour his wanderings are not