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Main > Irish folktales > Fairy tale "A Year and a Day"

A Year and a Day

"The next day the Princess was married to Oisin. For a long time Oisin and the Princess lived in the palace and Oisin thought that he never could be more happy than he was now. The old warriors cared much for what they ate and drank, and Oisin ate and drank better things than he had ever tasted before. He walked with the Princess down through the shady ways among the trees and across the brooks and up the hill-sides among the flowers. They sat together in the garden or in the palace and she sang to him and told him wonderful tales of heroes and of princesses of olden times. Sometimes they rode hunting together, and everywhere they found game, the finest that Oisin had ever seen.

"But at last Oisin began to feel that he cared less for all these things than he had done at first. The grass and the flowers and the woods did not seem so fair to him as they had seemed; the sunshine was not such pure gold; he wished that the silver streams would not blow away in spray and mix with the mists; he wanted to see them come down yellow with the earth of the mountains and plunge into caverns with great rushing and roaring; he felt that the warm air was taking his strength from him; he no longer liked the rich feasts that were spread before him every day; he longed to follow the deer through the woods, with his old friends, to kill it and to cook it and eat it in the woods, and then to sleep there, under the trees and the stars; these trees and these gardens were beautiful, it was true, but they were too beautiful; a hard way through a rough forest would have pleased him better now; he did not love the Princess less, but he longed to see his father and his men again; her singing was no less sweet to him than it had ever been before, but he wished that he could be again where the Fenians, after a hard day's hunt or a hard day's fight, sat about the fire in their stronghold, and listened to one of them—perhaps himself, for he was the best singer of them all—while he sang songs of great heroes and of great fights.

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