The Celtic Literature Collective

The Executioner of John the Baptist
MS 1 of the Scottish Collection

Apsalon baile in righ
Le na n-derrnadh in mor gnim;
Is ann sin, nir buan am bladh,
Do marbadh Eoin an t-uasal.

'Cia h-acaib ghabhas do laim,
Mo dhichennad do droch mnaib?
Nocha sloinnedh thiar no thoir
Do Ghallaib do Gaidhelaib.'

'Gaeidhel sut ar cach uile,'
A Eoin alainn foltbhuidhe;
'Is fada siar ata a theach,
A crichaib na fuinedhach.'

'Sirim idche ar Crist romchar,'
Adubairt Eoin an t-uasal,
'Nar faghaib Gaeidhel con a eib
Biadh 7 edach den taeib.'

Adubairt Modh Ruith gan raith
'Tabraidh dam buaib a edach derb,
Co m-benainn de a chenn
A shlanfa feraib Erenn.'

Beantar a chen d'Eoin ar sin;
Tic an gnim re Gaeidhel;
Curtar mor d'airged is d'or,
Fa'n cenn toir an Apsolon.

Askelon, the royal seat,
In which the great deed was done;
There, not lasting was the fame,
John the noble was slain.

'What evil woman among you
Will take in hand my beheading?
Not one from east or west,
Of the blood of Foreigners or Gaels.

'Thou handsome yellow-haired John,
Yonder is a Gael beyond all others;
His abode is far away in the west,
In the lands of the western men.'

'I ask a boon from Christ who loves me,'
Said John the noble,
'That no comely Gael may get
Food nor rainment in any case.'

Said Mogh Ruith without grace,
'Give to me even his rainment,
And I shall cut off his head
For the weal of the men of Ireland.'

Then was John beheaded,
The Gael will suffer therefrom;
Much silver and gold
Was put under the head east in Askelon.

"The Executioner of John the Baptist" trans. & ed. by Prof. MacKinnon. The Celtic Review. vol. VIII. Edinburgh: William Hodge & Co. 1912-1913.