Sonnet: “When Cu Chulainn Courts Sweet Emer”

“Emer, courted by CuChulainn”


This is a companion piece to the sonnet previously posted, “Immortal Marriage”.

Celtic mythology is a convoluted place in literary history. It is like a swamp actually, as it is complex and sucks you right in.  To get out may take years.

Lady Nyo


“In that sweet country, I’ll rest my weapon”

Spoke Cu Chulainn to beauteous Emer,

And a war spasm came upon him fast

With face distorted, hair stood upended

Teeth barred in anger, cock a rigid mast–

His body whipped around, his knees unbended.

Sweet Emer, fainting,  prayed his luck would last.

Her father, King Lug, Celtic God of Light

Set her swain to tasks and toil unending,

While Bricru the Poison Tongue cries in fright:

“The Hound of Ulster, Irish unbending,

Leads in battle for comes he in his might!

And Emer waits with patient love the day

When Cu Chulainn comes near and claims his right!

Jane Kohut-Bartels,

Copyrighted, 2012

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11 Responses to “Sonnet: “When Cu Chulainn Courts Sweet Emer””

  1. brian miller Says:

    wow what a vivid picture of the war spasm there in the opening…i might have fainted myself…smiles…and just what right is she hoping he claims? smiles….


  2. Laurie Kolp Says:

    My youngest son’s into mythology right now. I know what you mean about getting sucked in (he’s a talker).


  3. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Laurie…

    the study of mythology is a great thing for children, especially home schooled children. My son loved it. Not so useful in the Navy, but at least he has this knowledge.

    Thanks for reading…



  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Brian….

    When I try to form these sonnets based on mythology….there are some key phrases that seem to be passed down to us from the original bards….”In that sweet country, I’ll rest my weapon.”

    That is when he sees Emer. Of course, this phrase is sexually charged. Her country, his weapon.

    There is a lot of that stuff in Celtic mythology…and it is all good story telling.

    Thanks for reading and your comment, friend.



  5. marousia Says:

    Enjoy the swamp and may you meet the Fisher King – great story telling and vivid imagery


  6. hedgewitch Says:

    A fine sonnet, Jane–very authentic and bardic in feel. I agree about Celtic mythology–it is a vast country, full of love and song and unending wars, and many many players. I’ve just skimmed the surface, but what a culture of imagination they built.


  7. ladynyo Says:

    You got it, Hedge. It’s a vast country in that realm. I can see why certain people spend their entire life researching Celtic mythology…it’s endless.
    Thank you, Joy, for reading and your encouraging comment.



  8. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Marousia!



  9. ManicDdaily Says:

    Very charming! And authentic. I have only read Yeats! k.


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hi K!
    Well, you are ahead of me…I have only started Yeats. Find him hard going for some reason…sort of like Stevens.

    I think when we know or study these myths, we try to get as close to the bone as possible in our own poems, sonnets. And because the story is there before we attempt any ‘creative liberty’….we don’t go far afield.

    What startles me and also intrigues me, is that the sonnet form really does change your ‘voice’. I am amazed at the change. It must be all those limited lines and being directed by rhyme.

    Thank you for reading and your comment. Much appreciated.



  11. ManicDdaily Says:

    You are welcome. I am a big fan of the sonnet form, actually. Mainly because it forces brevity. k.


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