The Bright Star of Ireland – The Jealous Queen
From a folktale recorded by a Longford schoolboy who was told it by a Louthman who was travelling the area looking for work… (alas as was the practice of the time, the N word is used, the modern day substitute in the area being “darkies)
The queen lay dead, alas the queen, the king his heart was broken
Their little girl, head full of curls, of her beauty wide was spoken
On her deathbed the queen, she requested that no girl take her place
A promise made, broken by the king, “needing a housekeeper around the place!”
(Us men, us men, unfaithful men
All too soon we see his likes again!)
The daughter to her grandfather to live she was sent
The king married a second time, for a while all were content
The new queen, she loved to swim, took to dip in a local lake
She would sing about anything, about all round a song would make
She such was blessed, emerging undressed, she looked down at her reflection
Such a sin of price to admire figure and form and the beauty of complexion!
Her heard of pride beat strong inside and alas it wasnt long
Until a ditty of how she was so pretty became the vain girls song
“Im of all of Ireland that ever was, or ever will be seen,
The prettiest, most beautiful, girl, woman, or queen”
Now in the waters deep there was asleep in the rushes there about
Where for centuries had lived by magic and grace of God an ancient and wise trout
He heard her song, knew she was wrong, strove to correct her of her mistake
He stuck up his head from the water and said “You are wrong in the song you make,
The most beautiful girl that ever was as the Bright Star of Ireland is known,
Her mother is the wife now dead of your husband upon your throne”
He queen was shocks on her hunkers rocked no so much by a talking fish
(It never crossed her mind that she would find he would make a tasty dish)
But that he said to her eternal dread – what if correct was he? –
That there living was another, her unknowing to a stepmother, more beautiful than she?
To her palace raced at a frantic pace, admonished by the king
“Why in fury rage with a fish as a sage do you such stories to me bring?”
I have a daughter all right who lives as is her right with her grandfather there
In his castle on his lands, and yes, she, like her mother is most fair,
Why your jealous I see, but you have me, so why you howl so wild?
She is no threat, you want no other man, and she is but a child?
The queen she calmed, he anger disarmed, by the kings words soothing
But she plotted and planned in silent hate as her hair he embracing smoothed.
She sulked all day for a week or more, her husband tried to talk her from her trouble
She said that the child it was possessed, that her jealousy from a spell did double
The dead queen lived in the living child, was the source of its beauty surreal
That she would never give peace to the happy couple, it was a curse very real
She used on her weak wiled husband, as only women can do her wiles
In time he agreed to her wicked plan to seize and slaughter the child!
She sent to the girl, to invite the girl home, to her castle the kings servants two,
Message from her new mother, so they could meet each other, as step relations do.
But on the way a trick here to play, like a lamb the girl they were to slaughter
To hide away, and never a word say, of the death of the kings daughter.
Her servants from Africa had come, in the land they were from, such assassination
It was routine where they had been, was the story of their nation
A price was set that the girl be met, to her fathers home escorted
Waylaid and killed, innocent blood spilled, a plan not to be thwarthed.
The men to the girls gate came, and spoke the same, that the girl was invited
To meet the new queen, who sad had been, and thought herself slighted
That it was never said the queen now dead, had a, and so beautiful a daughter
To make amends, the men she did send, and such greeting they had brought her.
They would escort safe the royal waif they earnestly did state
As if their own, their word of honour known, to her fathers castle gate.
The grandfather agreed over glasses of mead that it was a good plan
Food was packed, and clothes on horses three, with blessings for each man.
The journey was long, and they were not wrong, the words of her beauty the people has spoken
“The Bright Star of Ireland was the title grand, given by folk, it was clear they were not joking
But she had a lovely manner too, such a thing to do, her for nothing to kill
Bar a jealous queen who once young had been, had with hatred her hearts fill
So they hatched a plan, each being a kind man, though assassination their trade
To let the girls lapdog free, allow it to flee, and a show of a search they made
It was not found though somewhere around, one did find and the dog they slew
She was distraught, as any kind heart ought, but what were the men to do?
They took liver and heart, on their journey did depart, returning the child to her grandfather
Telling him, on her dogs loss the took a whim, not visit her mother she’d rather…
The wicked queen was delighted when returning she sighted the assassins she had sent!
The heart she was given, with a knife through driven, mission accomplished where they had went,
She went to her room, and on dusks descending gloom, she made a gory sight
Where she a ritual made, and as a writhing shade, she ate the childs heart that night!
Her competition destroyed and a spell employed, that her beauty would be enhanced
So that no more more beautiful than she would ever be, was, or will be romanced!
The king her passion saw and was in awe of her amorousness and fire
They took to bed – let no more be said – as died the flames in the fire…
She had not bathed in the lake since the fish to her had spoke
She resolved to bathe again first thing when she awoke
The morning sun it saw her, when its warming rays the day found
On her way to bathe, walk naked on the dew wet ground
She immersed herself in the dawn lit water, birds singing in the trees
She sang like she had never sung before, a new found blissful ease
The wise old trout was swimming still, and heard her sing again
Swam over to listen to her enchanting music from this Queen of men
But on the shore after bathing again admiring her reflection in the water
She sang of her beauty and he rebuked, stating alive still was the kings daughter!
“But I ate her liver and heart” the queen wailed with a start, at her the old trout stared
“It was the heart of the dog, lost in the bog, the servants the girls life spared!”
In fury she again to her castle did flee, of the mens treachery said
Her husband not pleased had the men seized and personally made sure each were dead
The Wicked Queen heretofor had been happy to trust her husbands choice of men
Resolved her fathers were a more brutal sort, that they would not fail again,
They were briefed under pain of death, on their way set, the child to attain
On the roadside their time to bide, and any tool to use
To kill her there, the child to fair, by all and any ruse.
At the grandfathers castle they reached and so beseeched the girl with them to go
As first was planned, though the queen did understand, and said to say to her so
About her grief that nature as a thief took her fleeing dog
When let out for a runabout in the watery and treacherous bog.
So the horses were packed again, and with the men, she to her fate did go
Not knowing the plan held in the hearts of each man that in their false smiles did not show.
That she was fair showed to both there, but also of speech and manner was she
In their native tongue, from their lands far flung, they spoke why should it be
That a queens cruel word and jealousy absurd should cause an innocent to die
For the child was pure of heart they were sure as they argued why
Till a fight broke out one did shout that the child either way he would kill
The other not to do, spoke, and he the other slew on the side of a hill
The girl, a mere child, with fear was wild, wanted to her grandfather to return
So home was brought as she screaming did shout, as the torches on the walls did burn
The lone servant to the queen he went. with the heart he had extracted
From the other man, not from the child as the queen had exacted.
That night a grimore was read, and it is said, as the Queen the heart she ate
She was seen where passing had been a friar by the castle gate
He troubled was by the spectre there, dancing naked, fair, eating a human heart
Singing a song undressed as a woman possessed, from this world apart…
He said a prayer for the people there, he hurriedly went to his cell
Pale with fright at the evil sight, he wisely no one of it did tell.
Dawn saw here once more as she often before, her on her way she went to bathe
The soldiers who – not looking in that looking they could not be seen! – thought a fine figure she made
The waters she splashed as into them she dashed as before it wasnt long
Until the trout who does sleep in the waters deep was awoken by her song.
She sang a song of love with the birds above, then she on the shore dressed
At her reflection did look, a while it took, as her hair she caressed
To sing the serenade that she had made to music she had set
The trout drew near, the song to hear, he jumped up and shouted “Not yet!”
But said the Queen, I in the castle have been, and I asked the cook
The heart I ate was human hid state, when he had a look!
Yes, said the fish, but your raw dish, was the heart of a man not a child
Did you not think it odd that alone returned one servant with a story of an attack wild?
The fish was wise beyond his years, said on seeing her tears, she will not be killed this way
And not now, to the questions when and how he made no reply but swam away…