In a typical hero’s journey,
the protagonist sets out on an adventure,
undergoes great change, and returns in triumph to their point of origin.
But in the Irish genre of mythknown as Eachtraí,
the journey to the other world ends in a point of no return.
While there are many different versions
of the otherworld in Irish mythology,
the most well-known example occursin the story of Oisín.
Oisín was the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill,
the leader of a group of pagan warriors
known as the Fianna.
As Oisín rode with his companions one day,
he was visited by the immortal princess Niamh.
The two fell instantly
in love and Niamh put Oisín onto her white horse
and rode with himto the edge of the Irish sea.
As they made for the horizon, the riders sunk into a golden haze.
They came to the shores of the gleaming kingdom called Tír na nÓg.
This was the home of the Tuatha Dé Danann,
the people who ruled Ancient Ireland
long before Oisín’s time.
From the point of his arrival,Oisín’s every need was met.
He married Niamh in a grand ceremony and was welcomed into her family.
When he wished to hear music, his ears filled with bewitching tones.
When he hungered, golden platesappeared laden with fragrant food.
He admired scenes of great beauty,
and colors that he had no name for.
All around him, the land and the people existed
in a state of unmoving perfection.
But what Oisín didn’t know was
that Tír na nÓg was the land of youth,
in which time stood stilland the people never aged.
In his new home,
Oisín continued to hunt and explore as he had in Ireland.
但这不老之地 他开始为陌生的 新奇的战无不胜的事物而着魔
But in the land of youth, he possessed a strange, new invincibility.
At the end of each day of adventuring,
Oisín’s wounds magically healed themselves as he slept in Niamh’s arms.
Although glory and pleasure came easily to Oisín
in the land of youth,
he missed the Fiannaand the adventures they had in Ireland.
After three years in Tír na nÓg,
he was struck by a deep yearning for home.
Before he embarked on his journey back,Niamh warned him
that he must not alight
from his horse to touch the earth with his own feet.
When Oisín reached the shores of Ireland,
it felt as if a shadow had fallen over the world.
On the hill where his father’s palace lay,
he saw only a ruin strewn with weeds.
His calls for his friends and familyechoed from derelict walls. Horrified,
Oisín rode until he came upon a group
of peasants working in the fields.
They were struggling to removea boulder from their land,
and forgetting Niamh’s warning,
Oisín leapt from his horse and rolled it away with his superhuman strength.
The crowd’s cheers soonturned into shrieks.
In place of the youth was
an old man whose beard swept the ground
and whose legs buckled under him.
He cried out for Finn and the Fianna,
but the people only recognized these names from the distant past
of 300 years before.
Time had betrayed Oisín and his return to mortal lands had aged him irreversibly.
Throughout Irish folklore,
sightings of the land
of youth have been reported in the depths of wells,
on the brink of the horizon,
or in the gloom of caves.
But those who know the tale
of Oisín tell of another vision,
that of a shining princess carried
upon the distant waves by a white horse,
still hoping for the returnof her doomed love.