Geisi Ulcai: The Prohibitions of a Beard

12 Feb

And why not? 

I shall relate to you the prohibitions of a beard

At all times.

Curled and hedgy, ’tis bad for the timid;

‘Tis too heavy for the coward.

There are warriors who are entitled to a beard

Who are not cowardly —

Noble chiefs by land and sea

And battle champions.

Noble sons of kings who inflict wounds

In the front of battalions;

The kingly champion over whom is not gained

The woundful battle,

If then he should suffer reproach

It shall not be from pusillanimity.

Its disgrace will be the greater, should it come

Under the prohibitions.

A prohibition of it, a nomaid1 unreddened with spears,

If oftener it is allowable;

A prohibition of it, the sun to rise on it

In its bed.

A prohibition of it, to hear a moan without relieving it

If made to him;

A prohibition of it, to laugh when shaken;

A prohibition of it, to retreat;

To battle with a champion, to fight with the nails

A prohibition of it, to refuse.

However small, ever so small, at all, at all,

A prohibition of it to labour;

A prohibition of it to mine for coals or mineral,

And to wield the sledge;

A prohibition of it to nurse; a prohibition of it to shovel;

A prohibition of it to kiln-dry.

A prohibition of it to abuse women or boys,

And the habit of a sluggard.

Save his shield sheltering his arm,

A prohibition of it to carry a burthen;

A prohibition of it, to bring an unclean knee into a bed, —

Not an unreasonable condition;

Nor anything filthy from the child

In the beard.

Every son of an Athach, if rich.

Grows the wisps [beard],

They desire to be like in appearance and colour

To the bucks [he-goats].

It has been revealed to me, therefore I know

The privileges of the collars [whiskers].

I am a man of great knowledge of what is lawful

For every kind of beard.

Artificers, smiths, house-builders.

Physicians who cure the infirm.

Because of their fatigue they shave every month

[The beard] on their faces.

Proceedings of the Roya Irish Academy Irish MSS. Series Vol I Series I, 1870, p191-193.


1 Nomaid: ‘a space of time’. Sometimes it means one day, but in the Irish laws it is generally put for nine days or the ninth day.

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