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The Mabinogion
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Mabinogion > The Second Branch (General comments)

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Lia | 522 comments Mod
‘Lady,’ they said, ‘what do you think it is?’‘Though I am no “lady”,’ she said, ‘I know what it is: the men of the Island of the Mighty coming over, having heard of my punishment and dishonour.’‘What is the forest they saw on the sea?’ they said.
‘Masts of ships and yardarms,’ she said.
‘Oh!’ they said. ‘What was the mountain they saw alongside the ships?’‘That was Bendigeidfran my brother, wading across,’ she said.
‘There was no ship big enough for him.’‘What was the very high ridge and the lake on each side of the ridge?’‘That was him, looking at this island,’ she said. ‘He is angry. The two lakes on either side of the ridge are his two eyes on each side of his nose.’Then they quickly mustered all the fighting-men of Ireland and of the coastal regions, and took counsel

This Q&A format sounds lot like the “catachism” in Joyce’s Ulysses, and also in Eliot’s Wasteland. The difference is that the context and meaning is clear and obvious here, somewhat confusing in Joyce, and completely incomprehensible in Eliot.

message 2: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Slater (yohanan) | 103 comments Lia wrote: "‘This Q&A format sounds lot like the “catachism” in Joyce’s Ulysses.."

As a "type-scene," it resembles the passage in The Iliad in which Helen identifies the various Greek leaders for the Trojan elders. (A situation more likely to have belonged to the first year of the war, but the Homeric poet made effective use of it.)

There are also some passages in Irish heroic stories about recognizing people in an approaching army from descriptions -- at least one scholar argues that they are actually Homeric, by way of Virgil, who he thinks had a major influence on early Irish storytellers. Well, maybe....

message 3: by Lia (new) - added it

Lia | 522 comments Mod
Now the you pointed that out, the plot itself is somewhat similar to The Iliad as well!

I thought the ... atmosphere? Tone? sounded especially like this part of The Waste Land (which is full of Q&A type scene, I've always thought it was a catholic thing.)

What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
Falling towers
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Vienna London

Though I don't know how much of that is just the translator's (Sioned Davies) diction.

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