Without another word the old man seated himself at his harp. Then he tucked back his flowing sleeves, touched the silver strings, and lifted his voice:
A riddle in a song I sing:
One in two and two in one;
The tie that cuts, the edge that binds;
A severing that in union finds
A narrow bed where parting rivers run.
I sing the circle of the earth;
Within its girth, of corners three,
Three points upon the outer rim
Scattered wide and shadowed dim
Where grasping hands reach not, nor eyes may see.
The Satisfaction of the world;
The Maiden pure with piercing eye;
The Key that in the lock she turns;
The Triangle that yet returns
Ere Lia Fail sets out beneath the sky.
Lia Fail? thought Morgan as Baxter groaned and heaved a weary sigh. But the song was flowing on and gaining speed:
From Falias came Lia Fail;
The Cauldron Black from Murias;
And Joseph’s Spear that dripped with blood
From Finias over the heaving flood;
But Goban forged Lugh’s Sword in Gorias.
And Lugh, himself of doleful fate,
By Goban fostered in the West,
A craftsman of great skill was found,
A King beloved and renowned,
When o’er the roaring Stone he came to rest.
King Lugh! Morgan said to himself. Lugh of the Long Hand! I’ve heard that name before!
Then Ollamh, seer wise and grim,
Darkened picture-dreams with speech:
Fleets and armies thick as rain;
The sons of Miled out from Spain;
Hungry birds upon the barren beach.
Seven days in council hall
He swayed them all with uttered thunder:
“The Stone of Destiny,” he said,
“The pillow stone of Jacob’s head
We dare not leave to roving thieves as plunder.”
I remember this, too. Morgan glanced up at Ollamh Folla. It was Simon—I mean Ollamh—who told the others to send Lia Fail away.
But Morrigu, in cunning shrewd,
Resisted Ollamh’s counsel keen
And, leagued with giants, swore to fight
The Danaoi by day and night
That, seizing Lia Fail, she might be queen.
Thus, when the Stone was set adrift
To keep it from the invading horde,
Then Lugh invented artifices
To save it from Anand’s devices:
A plan he forged around his flashing sword.
“Stone of stone and steel of steel,
Flesh of flesh and bone of bone—,”
So spoke the King, “—thus Fragarach,
My answering blade, give and take back:
The Stone in thee, and thou within the Stone.
“Divide thy powers unto her;
Let her virtue live in thee:
One in two and two in one
While unending ages run,
Ever bound across the sundering sea.”
Then, having spoken, Lugh unsheathed
The blue-edged sword that Goban made:
He heaved it up above the Stone;
He thrust it down and drove it home:
No seam could they discern twixt face and blade.
Lugh’s sword ? thought Morgan. That’s the Sword in the Stone? But the bard’s song was drawing swiftly to a close.
Then Sword in Stone and Stone in Sword
They set afloat upon the deep
To seek the Isle of utter peace,
Where ends the world, where strivings cease,
Where suns go down at end of day to sleep.
But ere he let them drift abroad
Lugh graved the riddle of his mind
Into the steel: “Here Fragarach,
The deathless blade of Ildanach
Goes forth in exile to divide and bind”—
Thus reads the riddle that I sing
Of one in two and two in one;
Of three together intertwined,
Of Sword and Stone and Maid combined
Beyond the sun while endless ages run.
(To be continued …)