Ro·cúala ní·tabair eochu ar dúana...

Ro·cúala ní·tabair eochu ar dúana;
do·beir a n-í as dúal dó: bó.

(I have heard * not gives * horses * for * poems/ gives * the * thing * that is * natural * for him * a cow)

I have heard he doesn’t give horses for poems;
he gives the thing that fits his nature: a cow.

Professional poets wrote for noble patrons, who paid for their songs of praise with gifts, some more elegant and costly than others. This witty ninth century ditty, collected in Irische Texte, satirizes the cheapskate. The fact that a poem (“dúan”) is entitled to its reward (“dúas”) is encapsulated in the saying “Eochair dúaisi dúana” = “The key to rewards is poems”, found among the other “eochair” maxims at ZCP vi.270. See also “Fochen aí…” in this collection.

Topics: Verse