THE FINEST MUSIC
Fionn Mac Cumhail was a legendary Irish hero, urbane, cultured and cunning,
who combined elements of warrior, seer and poet.
In one story, Fionn sparked a debate when he asked his followers
what they thought was the finest music in the world.
"Tell us what you think," said Fionn, turning to Oisin.
"The cuckoo calling from the highest tree in the hedge," cried his jolly son.
"That is a good sound," said Fionn. "And Oscar," he asked,
"what do you think is the finest music?"
"The best music to my ears
is the ring of a spear on a shield," cried the sturdy lad.
"That is a good sound," said Fionn.
And the other champions told what
best pleased them:
the bugling of a stag across water,
the baying of a melodious pack heard from afar,
the song of a lark,
the laughter of a gleeful girl,
or the whisper of a moved one.
"Those are all good sounds," said Fionn.
"Tell us, chief," one ventured, "what do you think?"
"The music of what happens," said great Fionn,
"that is the finest music in the world."
- James Stephens, Irish Fairy Stories