Deirdre of the Sorrows by J. M. Synge
PERSONS IN THE PLAY

LAVARCHAM, Deirdre's nurse

OLD WOMAN, Lavarcham's servant

OWEN, Conchubor's attendant and spy

CONCHUBOR, High King of Ulster

FERGUS, Conchubor's friend

DEIRDRE

NAISI, Deirdre's lover

AINNLE, Naisi's brother

ARDAN, Naisi's brother

TWO SOLDIERS

ACT I.

Lavarcham's house on Slieve Fuadh.

Lavarcham's house on Slieve Fuadh. There
is a door to inner room on the left, and a door
to open air on the right. Window at back
and a frame with a half-finished piece of
tapestry. There are also a large press and
heavy oak chest near the back wall. The place
is neat and clean but bare. Lavarcham, woman
of fifty, is working at tapestry frame. Old
Woman comes in from left.


OLD WOMAN. She hasn't come yet,
is it, and it falling to the night?

LAVARCHAM. She has not. . . (Con-
cealing her anxiety.
) It's dark with the
clouds are coming from the west and south,
but it isn't later than the common.

OLD WOMAN. It's later, surely, and I
hear tell the Sons of Usna, Naisi and his
brothers, are above chasing hares for two days
or three, and the same awhile since when the
moon was full.

LAVARCHAM -- more anxiously. -- The
gods send they don't set eyes on her -- (with
a sign of helplessness) yet if they do itself,
it wasn't my wish brought them or could send
them away.

OLD WOMAN -- reprovingly. -- If it
wasn't, you'd do well to keep a check on her,
and she turning a woman that was meant to
be a queen.

LAVARCHAM. Who'd check her like
was meant to have her pleasure only, the way
if there were no warnings told about her you'd
see troubles coming when an old king is taking
her, and she without a thought but for her
beauty and to be straying the hills.

OLD WOMAN. The gods help the lot of
us. . . . Shouldn't she be well pleased getting
the like of Conchubor, and he middling settled
in his years itself? I don't know what he
wanted putting her this wild place to be
breaking her in, or putting myself to be roast-
ing her supper and she with no patience for
her food at all. She looks out.

LAVARCHAM. Is she coming from the
glen?

OLD WOMAN. She is not. But whisht
-- there's two men leaving the furze --
(crying out) it's Conchubor and Fergus along
with him. Conchubor'll be in a blue stew this
night and herself abroad.

LAVARCHAM -- settling room hastily. --
Are they close by?

OLD WOMAN. Crossing the stream, and
there's herself on the hillside with a load of
twigs. Will I run out and put her in order
before they'll set eyes on her at all?

LAVARCHAM. You will not. Would
you have him see you, and he a man would
be jealous of a hawk would fly between her
and the rising sun. (She looks out.) Go up
to the hearth and be as busy as if you hadn't
seen them at all.

OLD WOMAN -- sitting down to polish
vessel.
-- There'll be trouble this night, for he
should be in his tempers from the way he's
stepping out, and he swinging his hands.

LAVARCHAM -- wearied with the whole
matter.
-- It'd be best of all, maybe, if he got
in tempers with herself, and made an end
quickly, for I'm in a poor way between the
pair of them (going back to tapestry frame.)
There they are now at the door.

[Conchubor and Fergus come in.

CONCHUBOR AND FERGUS. The
gods save you.

LAVARCHAM -- getting up and courtesy-
ing.
-- The gods save and keep you kindly, and
stand between you and all harm for ever.

CONCHUBOR -- looking around. -- Where
is Deirdre?

LAVARCHAM -- trying to speak with in-
difference.
-- Abroad upon Slieve Fuadh. She
does be all times straying around picking
flowers or nuts, or sticks itself; but so long
as she's gathering new life I've a right not to
heed her, I'm thinking, and she taking her will.

[Fergus talks to Old Woman.

CONCHUBOR -- stiffly. -- A night with
thunder coming is no night to be abroad.

LAVARCHAM -- more uneasily. -- She's
used to every track and pathway, and the
lightning itself wouldn't let down its flame to
singe the beauty of her like.

FERGUS -- cheerfully. -- She's right, Con-
chubor, and let you sit down and take your
ease, (he takes a wallet from under his cloak)
and I'll count out what we've brought, and
put it in the presses within.
[He goes into the inner room with the
Old Woman.


CONCHUBOR -- sitting down and look-
ing about.
-- Where are the mats and hangings
and the silver skillets I sent up for Deirdre?

LAVARCHAM. The mats and hangings
are in this press, Conchubor. She wouldn't
wish to be soiling them, she said, running out
and in with mud and grasses on her feet, and
it raining since the night of Samhain. The
silver skillets and the golden cups we have
beyond locked in the chest.

CONCHUBOR. Bring them out and use
them from this day.

LAVARCHAM. We'll do it, Conchubor.

CONCHUBOR -- getting up and going to
frame.
-- Is this hers?

LAVARCHAM -- pleased to speak of it. --
It is, Conchubor. All say there isn't her match
at fancying figures and throwing purple upon
crimson, and she edging them all times with
her greens and gold.

CONCHUBOR -- a little uneasily. -- Is she
keeping wise and busy since I passed before,
and growing ready for her life in Emain?

LAVARCHAM -- dryly. -- That is a ques-
tion will give small pleasure to yourself or me.
(Making up her mind to speak out.) If it's
the truth I'll tell you, she's growing too wise
to marry a big king and she a score only. Let
you not be taking it bad, Conchubor, but you'll
get little good seeing her this night, for with
all my talking it's wilfuller she's growing these
two months or three.

CONCHUBOR -- severely, but relieved
things are no worse.
-- Isn't it a poor thing
you're doing so little to school her to meet
what is to come?

LAVARCHAM. I'm after serving you
two score of years, and I'll tell you this night,
Conchubor, she's little call to mind an old
woman when she has the birds to school her,
and the pools in the rivers where she goes
bathing in the sun. I'll tell you if you seen
her that time, with her white skin, and her red
lips, and the blue water and the ferns about
her, you'd know, maybe, and you greedy itself,
it wasn't for your like she was born at all.

CONCHUBOR. It's little I heed for what
she was born; she'll be my comrade, surely.

[He examines her workbox.

LAVARCHAM -- sinking into sadness
again.
-- I'm in dread so they were right say-
ing she'd bring destruction on the world, for
it's a poor thing when you see a settled man
putting the love he has for a young child, and
the love he has for a full woman, on a girl the
like of her; and it's a poor thing, Conchubor,
to see a High King, the way you are this day,
prying after her needles and numbering her
lines of thread.

CONCHUBOR -- getting up. -- Let you
not be talking too far and you old itself.
(Walks across room and back.) Does she
know the troubles are foretold?

LAVARCHAM -- in the tone of the earlier
talk.
-- I'm after telling her one time and
another, but I'd do as well speaking to a lamb
of ten weeks and it racing the hills. . . . It's
not the dread of death or troubles that would
tame her like.

CONCHUBOR -- he looks out. -- She's
coming now, and let you walk in and keep
Fergus till I speak with her a while.

LAVARCHAM -- going left. -- If I'm
after vexing you itself, it'd be best you weren't
taking her hasty or scolding her at all.

CONCHUBOR -- very stiffly. -- I've no
call to. I'm well pleased she's light and airy.

LAVARCHAM -- offended at his tone. --
Well pleased is it? (With a snort of irony)
It's a queer thing the way the likes of me do
be telling the truth, and the wise are lying all
times.

She goes into room on left. Conchubor
arranges himself before a mirror for a
moment, then goes a little to the left
and waits. Deirdre comes in poorly
dressed, with a little bag and a bundle
of twigs in her arms. She is astonished
for a moment when she sees Conchu-bor; then
she makes a courtesy to him, and goes to the hearth
without any embarrassment.


CONCHUBOR. The gods save you,
Deirdre. I have come up bringing you rings
and jewels from Emain Macha.

DEIRDRE. The gods save you.

CONCHUBOR. What have you brought
from the hills?

DEIRDRE -- quite self-possessed. -- A bag
of nuts, and twigs for our fires at the dawn
of day.

CONCHUBOR -- showing annoyance in
spite of himself.
-- And it's that way you're
picking up the manners will fit you to be Queen
of Ulster?

DEIRDRE -- made a little defiant by his
tone.
-- I have no wish to be a queen.

CONCHUBOR -- almost sneeringly. --
You'd wish to be dressing in your duns and
grey, and you herding your geese or driving
your calves to their shed -- like the common
lot scattered in the glens.

DEIRDRE -- very defiant. -- I would not,
Conchubor. (She goes to tapestry and begins
to work.
) A girl born the way I'm born is
more likely to wish for a mate who'd be her
likeness. . . . A man with his hair like the
raven, maybe, and his skin like the snow and
his lips like blood spilt on it.

CONCHUBOR -- sees his mistake, and
after a moment takes a flattering tone, looking
at her work.
-- Whatever you wish, there's no
queen but would be well pleased to have your
skill at choosing colours and making pictures
on the cloth. (Looking closely.) What is it
you're figuring?

DEIRDRE -- deliberately. -- Three young
men and they chasing in the green gap of a
wood.

CONCHUBOR -- now almost pleading. --
It's soon you'll have dogs with silver chains
to be chasing in the woods of Emain, for I
have white hounds rearing up for you, and
grey horses, that I've chosen from the finest
in Ulster and Britain and Gaul.

DEIRDRE -- unmoved as before. -- I've
heard tell, in Ulster and Britain and Gaul,
Naisi and his brothers have no match and they
chasing in the woods.

CONCHUBOR -- very gravely. -- Isn't it
a strange thing you'd be talking of Naisi and
his brothers, or figuring them either, when you
know the things that are foretold about them-
selves and you? Yet you've little knowledge,
and I'd do wrong taking it bad when it'll be
my share from this out to keep you the way
you'll have little call to trouble for knowledge,
or its want either.

DEIRDRE. Yourself should be wise,
surely.

CONCHUBOR. The like of me has a
store of knowledge that's a weight and terror.
It's for that we do choose out the like of your-
self that are young and glad only. . . . I'm
thinking you are gay and lively each day in
the year?

DEIRDRE. I don't know if that's true,
Conchubor. There are lonesome days and bad
nights in this place like another.

CONCHUBOR. You should have as few
sad days, I'm thinking, as I have glad and
good ones.

DEIRDRE. What is it has you that way
ever coming this place, when you'd hear the
old woman saying a good child's as happy as
a king?

CONCHUBOR. How would I be happy
seeing age coming on me each year, when the
dry leaves are blowing back and forward at
the gate of Emain? And yet this last while
I'm saying out, when I see the furze breaking
and the daws sitting two and two on ash-trees
by the duns of Emain, Deirdre's a year nearer
her full age when she'll be my mate and com-
rade and then I'm glad surely.

DEIRDRE -- almost to herself. -- I will
not be your mate in Emain.

CONCHUBOR -- not heeding her. -- It's
there you'll be proud and happy and you'll
learn that, if young men are great hunters, yet
it's with the like of myself you'll find a knowl-
edge of what is priceless in your own like.
What we all need is a place is safe and
splendid, and it's that you'll get in Emain in
two days or three.

DEIRDRE -- aghast. -- Two days!

CONCHUBOR. I have the rooms ready,
and in a little while you'll be brought down
there, to be my queen and queen of the five
parts of Ireland.

DEIRDRE -- standing up frightened and
pleading.
-- I'd liefer stay this place, Con-
chubor. . . . Leave me this place, where I'm
well used to the tracks and pathways and the
people of the glens. . . . It's for this life I'm
born, surely.

CONCHUBOR. You'll be happier and
greater with myself in Emain. It is I will be
your comrade, and will stand between you and
the great troubles are foretold.

DEIRDRE. I will not be your queen in
Emain when it's my pleasure to be having my
freedom on the edges of the hills.

CONCHUBOR. It's my wish to have you
quickly; I'm sick and weary thinking of the
day you'll be brought down to me, and seeing
you walking into my big, empty halls. I've
made all sure to have you, and yet all said
there's a fear in the back of my mind I'd miss
you and have great troubles in the end. It's
for that, Deirdre, I'm praying that you'll
come quickly; and you may take the word of
a man has no lies, you'll not find, with any
other, the like of what I'm bringing you in
wildness and confusion in my own mind.

DEIRDRE. I cannot go, Conchubor.

CONCHUBOR -- taking a triumphant
tone.
-- It is my pleasure to have you, and I
a man is waiting a long while on the throne
of Ulster. Wouldn't you liefer be my com-
rade, growing up the like of Emer and Maeve,
than to be in this place and you a child always?

DEIRDRE. You don't know me and
you'd have little joy taking me, Conchubor.
. . . I'm a long while watching the days
getting a great speed passing me by. I'm too
long taking my will, and it's that way I'll be
living always.

CONCHUBOR -- dryly. -- Call Fergus to
come with me. This is your last night upon
Slieve Fuadh.

DEIRDRE -- now pleadingly. -- Leave me
a short space longer, Conchubor. Isn't it a
poor thing I should be hastened away, when
all these troubles are foretold? Leave me a
year, Conchubor; it isn't much I'm asking.

CONCHUBOR. It's much to have me
two score and two weeks waiting for your
voice in Emain, and you in this place growing
lonesome and shy. I'm a ripe man and in
great love, and yet, Deirdre, I'm the King of
Ulster. (He gets up.) I'll call Fergus, and
we'll make Emain ready in the morning.

[He goes towards door on left.

DEIRDRE -- clinging to him. -- Do not
call him, Conchubor. . . . Promise me a year
of quiet. . . . It's one year I'm asking only.

CONCHUBOR. You'd be asking a year
next year, and the years that follow. (Call-
ing.
) Fergus! Fergus! (To Deirdre.)
Young girls are slow always; it is their lovers
that must say the word. (Calling.) Fergus!

[Deirdre springs away from him as
Fergus comes in with Lavarcham and
the Old Woman.


CONCHUBOR -- to Fergus. -- There is a
storm coming, and we'd best be going to our
people when the night is young.

FERGUS -- cheerfully. -- The gods shield
you, Deirdre. (To Conchubor.) We're late
already, and it's no work the High King to
be slipping on stepping-stones and hilly path-
ways when the floods are rising with the rain.

[He helps Conchubor into his cloak.

CONCHUBOR -- glad that he has made
his decision -- to Lavarcham.
-- Keep your
rules a few days longer, and you'll be brought
down to Emain, you and Deirdre with you.

LAVARCHAM -- obediently. -- Your rules
are kept always.

CONCHUBOR. The gods shield you.
[He goes out with Fergus. Old Woman
bolts door.


LAVARCHAM -- looking at Deirdre, who
has covered her face.
-- Wasn't I saying you'd
do it? You've brought your marriage a sight
nearer not heeding those are wiser than your-
self.

DEIRDRE -- with agitation. -- It wasn't I
did it. Will you take me from this place,
Lavarcham, and keep me safe in the hills?

LAVARCHAM. He'd have us tracked in
the half of a day, and then you'd be his queen
in spite of you, and I and mine would be
destroyed for ever.

DEIRDRE -- terrified with the reality that
is before her.
-- Are there none can go against
Conchubor?

LAVARCHAM. Maeve of Connaught
only, and those that are her like.

DEIRDRE. Would Fergus go against
him?

LAVARCHAM. He would, maybe, and
his temper roused.

DEIRDRE -- in a lower voice with sudden
excitement.
-- Would Naisi and his brothers?

LAVARCHAM -- impatiently. -- Let you
not be dwelling on Naisi and his brothers. . . .
In the end of all there is none can go against
Conchubor, and it's folly that we're talking,
for if any went against Conchubor it's sorrow
he'd earn and the shortening of his day of life.

[She turns away, and Deirdre stands up
stiff with excitement and goes and
looks out of the window.


DEIRDRE. Are the stepping-stones flood-
ing, Lavarcham? Will the night be stormy in
the hills?

LAVARCHAM -- looking at her curiously.
The stepping-stones are flooding, surely, and
the night will be the worst, I'm thinking, we've
seen these years gone by.

DEIRDRE -- tearing open the press and
pulling out clothes and tapestries.
-- Lay these
mats and hangings by the windows, and at the
tables for our feet, and take out the skillets
of silver, and the golden cups we have, and
our two flasks of wine.

LAVARCHAM. What ails you?

DEIRDRE -- gathering up a dress. -- Lay
them out quickly, Lavarcham, we've no call
dawdling this night. Lay them out quickly;
I'm going into the room to put on the rich
dresses and jewels have been sent from Emain.

LAVARCHAM. Putting on dresses at
this hour, and it dark and drenching with the
weight of rain! Are you away in your head?

DEIRDRE -- gathering her things to-
gether with an outburst of excitement.
-- I will
dress like Emer in Dundealgan, or Maeve in
her house in Connaught. If Conchubor'll
make me a queen, I'll have the right of a queen
who is a master, taking her own choice and
making a stir to the edges of the seas. . . .
Lay out your mats and hangings where I can
stand this night and look about me. Lay out
the skins of the rams of Connaught and of the
goats of the west. I will not be a child or
plaything; I'll put on my robes that are the
richest, for I will not be brought down to
Emain as Cuchulain brings his horse to the
yoke, or Conall Cearneach puts his shield
upon his arm; and maybe from this day I will
turn the men of Ireland like a wind blowing
on the heath.

She goes into room. Lavarcham and
Old Woman look at each other, then
the Old Woman goes over, looks in at
Deirdre through chink of the door, and
then closes it carefully.


OLD WOMAN -- in a frightened whisper.
-- She's thrown off the rags she had about
her, and there she is in her skin; she's putting
her hair in shiny twists. Is she raving,
Lavarcham, or has she a good right turning
to a queen like Maeve?

LAVARCHAM -- putting up hanging very
anxiously.
-- It's more than raving's in her
mind, or I'm the more astray; and yet she's
as good a right as another, maybe, having her
pleasure, though she'd spoil the world.

OLD WOMAN -- helping her. -- Be quick
before she'll come back. . . . Who'd have
thought we'd run before her, and she so quiet
till to-night. Will the High King get the
better of her, Lavarcham? If I was Con-
chubor, I wouldn't marry with her like at all.

LAVARCHAM. Hang that by the win-
dow. That should please her, surely. When
all's said, it's her like will be the master till
the end of time.

OLD WOMAN -- at the window. -- There's
a mountain of blackness in the sky, and the
greatest rain falling has been these long years
on the earth. The gods help Conchubor. He'll
be a sorry man this night, reaching his dun,
and he with all his spirits, thinking to himself
he'll be putting his arms around her in two
days or three.

LAVARCHAM. It's more than Conchu-
bor'll be sick and sorry, I'm thinking, before
this story is told to the end.

[Loud knocking on door at the right.

LAVARCHAM -- startled. -- Who is that?

NAISI -- outside. -- Naisi and his brothers.

LAVARCHAM. We are lonely women.
What is it you're wanting in the blackness of
the night?

NAISI. We met a young girl in the woods
who told us we might shelter this place if the
rivers rose on the pathways and the floods
gathered from the butt of the hills.

[Old Woman clasps her hands in horror.

LAVARCHAM -- with great alarm. -- You
cannot come in. . . . There is no one let in
here, and no young girl with us.

NAISI. Let us in from the great storm.
Let us in and we will go further when the
cloud will rise.

LAVARCHAM. Go round east to the
shed and you'll have shelter. You cannot
come in.

NAISI -- knocking loudly. -- Open the
door or we will burst it. (The door is shaken.)

OLD WOMAN -- in a timid whisper. --
Let them in, and keep Deirdre in her room
to-night.

AINNLE AND ARDAN -- outside. --
Open! Open!

LAVARCHAM -- to Old Woman. -- Go
in and keep her.

OLD WOMAN. I couldn't keep her. I've
no hold on her. Go in yourself and I will
free the door.

LAVARCHAM. I must stay and turn
them out. (She pulls her hair and cloak over
her face.
) Go in and keep her.

OLD WOMAN. The gods help us.
[She runs into the inner room.

VOICES. Open!

LAVARCHAM -- opening the door. --
Come in then and ill-luck if you'll have it so.
[Naisi and Ainnle and Ardan come in
and look round with astonishment.


NAISI. It's a rich man has this place, and
no herd at all.

LAVARCHAM -- sitting down with her
head half covered.
-- It is not, and you'd best
be going quickly.

NAISI -- hilariously, shaking rain from
his clothes.
-- When we've had the pick of luck
finding princely comfort in the darkness of
the night! Some rich man of Ulster should
come here and he chasing in the woods. May
we drink? (He takes up flask.) Whose
wine is this that we may drink his health?

LAVARCHAM. It's no one's that you've
call to know.

NAISI. Your own health then and length
of life. (Pouring out wine for the three.
They drink.
)

LAVARCHAM -- very crossly. -- You're
great boys taking a welcome where it isn't
given, and asking questions where you've no
call to. . . . If you'd a quiet place settled
up to be playing yourself, maybe, with a gentle
queen, what'd you think of young men prying
around and carrying tales? When I was a bit
of a girl the big men of Ulster had better
manners, and they the like of your three selves,
in the top folly of youth. That'll be a story
to tell out in Tara that Naisi is a tippler and
stealer, and Ainnle the drawer of a stranger's
cork.

NAISI -- quite cheerfully, sitting down be-
side her.
-- At your age you should know
there are nights when a king like Conchubor
will spit upon his arm ring, and queens will
stick their tongues out at the rising moon.
We're that way this night, and it's not wine
we're asking only. Where is the young girl
told us we might shelter here?

LAVARCHAM. Asking me you'd be?
We're decent people, and I wouldn't put you
tracking a young girl, not if you gave me the
gold clasp you have hanging on your coat.

NAISI -- giving it to her. -- Where is she?

LAVARCHAM -- in confidential whisper,
putting her hand on his arm.
-- Let you walk
back into the hills and turn up by the second
cnuceen where there are three together. You'll
see a path running on the rocks and then you'll
hear the dogs barking in the houses, and their
noise will guide you till you come to a bit of
cabin at the foot of an ash-tree. It's there
there is a young and flighty girl that I'm
thinking is the one you've seen.

NAISI -- hilariously. -- Here's health, then,
to herself and you!

ARDAN. Here's to the years when you
were young as she!

AINNLE -- in a frightened whisper. --
Naisi!

[Naisi looks up and Ainnle beckons to
him. He goes over and Ainnle points
to something on the golden mug he
holds in his hand.


NAISI -- looking at it in astonishment. --
This is the High King's. . . . I see his mark
on the rim. Does Conchubor come lodging
here?

LAVARCHAM -- jumping up with ex-
treme annoyance.
-- Who says it's Conchu-
bor's? How dare young fools the like of you
-- (speaking with vehement insolence) come
prying around, running the world into troubles
for some slip of a girl? What brings you this
place straying from Emain? (Very bitterly.)
Though you think, maybe, young men can do
their fill of foolery and there is none to blame
them.

NAISI -- very soberly. -- Is the rain easing?

ARDAN. The clouds are breaking. . . .
I can see Orion in the gap of the glen.

NAISI -- still cheerfully. -- Open the door
and we'll go forward to the little cabin between
the ash-tree and the rocks. Lift the bolt and
pull it.

[Deirdre comes in on left royally dressed
and very beautiful. She stands for a
moment, and then as the door opens
she calls softly.


DEIRDRE. Naisi! Do not leave me,
Naisi. I am Deirdre of the Sorrows.

NAISI -- transfixed with amazement. --
And it is you who go around in the woods
making the thrushes bear a grudge against the
heavens for the sweetness of your voice
singing.

DEIRDRE. It is with me you've spoken,
surely. (To Lavarcham and Old Woman.)
Take Ainnle and Ardan, these two princes,
into the little hut where we eat, and serve them
with what is best and sweetest. I have many
thing for Naisi only.

LAVARCHAM -- overawed by her tone. --
I will do it, and I ask their pardon. I have
fooled them here.

DEIRDRE -- to Ainnle and Ardan. -- Do
not take it badly that I am asking you to walk
into our hut for a little. You will have a
supper that is cooked by the cook of Conchu-
bor, and Lavarcham will tell you stories of
Maeve and Nessa and Rogh.

AINNLE. We'll ask Lavarcham to tell us
stories of yourself, and with that we'll be well
pleased to be doing your wish.

[They all go out except Deirdre and Naisi.
DEIRDRE -- sitting in the high chair in
the centre.
-- Come to this stool, Naisi (point-
ing to the stool
). If it's low itself the High
King would sooner be on it this night than on
the throne of Emain Macha.

NAISI -- sitting down. -- You are Fed-
limid's daughter that Conchubor has walled up
from all the men of Ulster.

DEIRDRE. Do many know what is fore-
told, that Deirdre will be the ruin of the Sons
of Usna, and have a little grave by herself,
and a story will be told for ever?

NAISI. It's a long while men have been
talking of Deirdre, the child who had all gifts,
and the beauty that has no equal; there are
many know it, and there are kings would give
a great price to be in my place this night and
you grown to a queen.

DEIRDRE. It isn't many I'd call, Naisi.
. . . I was in the woods at the full moon
and I heard a voice singing. Then I gathered
up my skirts, and I ran on a little path I have
to the verge of a rock, and I saw you pass by
underneath, in your crimson cloak, singing a
song, and you standing out beyond your
brothers are called the Plower of Ireland.

NAISI. It's for that you called us in the
dusk?

DEIRDRE -- in a low voice. -- Since that,
Naisi, I have been one time the like of a ewe
looking for a lamb that had been taken away
from her, and one time seeing new gold on
the stars, and a new face on the moon, and all
times dreading Emain.

NAISI -- pulling himself together and be-
ginning to draw back a little.
-- Yet it should
be a lonesome thing to be in this place and you
born for great company.

DEIRDRE -- softly. -- This night I have
the best company in the whole world.

NAISI -- still a little formally. -- It is I
who have the best company, for when you're
queen in Emain you will have none to be your
match or fellow.

DEIRDRE. I will not be queen in Emain.

NAISI. Conchubor has made an oath you
will, surely.

DEIRDRE. It's for that maybe I'm called
Deirdre, the girl of many sorrows . . . for
it's a sweet life you and I could have, Naisi.
. . . . It should be a sweet thing to have
what is best and richest, if it's for a short
space only.

NAISI -- very distressed. -- And we've a
short space only to be triumphant and brave.

DEIRDRE. You must not go, Naisi, and
leave me to the High King, a man is aging
in his dun, with his crowds round him, and
his silver and gold. (More quickly.) I will
not live to be shut up in Emain, and wouldn't
we do well paying, Naisi, with silence and a
near death. (She stands up and walks away
from him.
) I'm a long while in the woods
with my own self, and I'm in little dread of
death, and it earned with riches would make
the sun red with envy, and he going up the
heavens; and the moon pale and lonesome, and
she wasting away. (She comes to him and
puts her hands on his shoulders.
) Isn't it a
small thing is foretold about the ruin of our-
selves, Naisi, when all men have age coming
and great ruin in the end?

NAISI. Yet it's a poor thing it's I should
bring you to a tale of blood and broken bodies,
and the filth of the grave. . . . Wouldn't we
do well to wait, Deirdre, and I each twilight
meeting you on the sides of the hills?

DEIRDRE -- despondently. -- His mes-
sengers are coming.

NAISI. Messengers are coming?

DEIRDRE. To-morrow morning or the
next, surely.

NAISI. Then we'll go away. It isn't I
will give your like to Conchubor, not if the
grave was dug to be my lodging when a week
was by. (He looks out.) The stars are out,
Deirdre, and let you come with me quickly,
for it is the stars will be our lamps many nights
and we abroad in Alban, and taking our
journeys among the little islands in the sea.
There has never been the like of the joy we'll
have, Deirdre, you and I, having our fill of
love at the evening and the morning till the
sun is high.

DEIRDRE. And yet I'm in dread leaving
this place, where I have lived always. Won't
I be lonesome and I thinking on the little hill
beyond, and the apple-trees do be budding in
the spring-time by the post of the door? (A
little shaken by what has passed.
) Won't I
be in great dread to bring you to destruction,
Naisi, and you so happy and young?

NAISI. Are you thinking I'd go on living
after this night, Deirdre, and you with Con-
chubor in Emain? Are you thinking I'd go
out after hares when I've had your lips in my
sight?

[Lavarcham comes in as they cling to
each other.


LAVARCHAM. Are you raving,
Deirdre? Are you choosing this night to
destroy the world?

DEIRDRE -- very deliberately. -- It's Con-
chubor has chosen this night calling me to
Emain. (To Naisi.) Bring in Ainnle and
Ardan, and take me from this place, where
I'm in dread from this out of the footsteps of
a hare passing. [He goes.

DEIRDRE -- clinging to Lavarcham. --
Do not take it bad I'm going, Lavarcham. It's
you have been a good friend and given me
great freedom and joy, and I living on Slieve
Fuadh; and maybe you'll be well pleased one
day saying you have nursed Deirdre.

LAVARCHAM -- moved. -- It isn't I'll be
well pleased and I far away from you. Isn't
it a hard thing you're doing, but who can help
it? Birds go mating in the spring of the year,
and ewes at the leaves falling, but a young
girl must have her lover in all the courses of
the sun and moon.

DEIRDRE. Will you go to Emain in the
morning?

LAVARCHAM. I will not. I'll go to
Brandon in the south; and in the course of a
piece, maybe, I'll be sailing back and forward
on the seas to be looking on your face and the
little ways you have that none can equal.

[Naisi comes back with Ainnle and Ardan
and Old Woman.


DEIRDRE -- taking Naisi's hand. -- My
two brothers, I am going with Naisi to Alban
and the north to face the troubles are foretold.
Will you take word to Conchubor in Emain?

AINNLE. We will go with you.

ARDAN. We will be your servants and
your huntsmen, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE. It isn't one brother only of
you three is brave and courteous. Will you
wed us, Lavarcham? You have the words and
customs.

LAVARCHAM. I will not, then. What
would I want meddling in the ruin you will
earn?

NAISI. Let Ainnle wed us. . . . He has
been with wise men and he knows their ways.

AINNLE -- joining their hands. -- By the
sun and moon and the whole earth, I wed
Deirdre to Naisi. (He steps back and holds
up his hands.) May the air bless you, and
water and the wind, the sea, and all the hours
of the sun and moon.

CURTAIN
 
 
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