A Song of Taliesin (Revised & Expanded)

I was a grain of wheat
In Cerridwen’s belly
That grew into a man.
Gwion Bach devoured,
Reborn with a radiant brow.
 
She sought to inspire
And I was inspired.
Inspiration meant for another,
But fate had other plans.
 
I stirred her Cauldron of Awen,
Its contents burned
Opening eyes and mind.
 
I was there
When the universe
Was a white-hot grain,
And will be there
When it is an ice-cold cloud
Spread thin by time.
 
I was there
In the valley of Rhun,
Before the years had been numbered,
By the shores of sunlight
When the fair ones
First gazed upon the trees.

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A Song of Taliesin

I was a piece of grain
In Cerridwen’s belly
That grew into a man.
Gwion Bach devoured,
Reborn with a radiant brow.

She sought to inspire
And I was inspired.
Inspiration meant for another,
But fate had other plans.

I stirred her Cauldron of Awen,
Its contents burned
And opened eyes and mind.

I was there
When the universe
Was a white hot grain,
And will be there
When it is an ice cold cloud
Spread thin by time.

I was there
In the valley of Rhun,
Before the years had been numbered,
By the shores of sunlight
When the fair ones
First gazed upon the trees.

I saw the Sword of Light
Forged by the sons of Twerios.
I saw the son of Vandar
Buried in the earth.
Family fragmented
Along the shores dispersed

I was there
When the flood waters came
And Cessair by Bandba was saved.
While Elfhame vanished
Under the waves.

I saw sister Alba
Lost in a foreign land.
Rescued by a knight
From the end of the world,
Reunited with her mother
She would be.

I was there
When Bran crossed the sea
To restore his sister’s honor.
I heard steel strike steel,
I saw the blood river run.

I sailed home
With Manawydan and Pryderi
To bury the king’s head
Facing the foreign lands.

I was there
When Degfed and Lleu
Sailed to Alfheim’s remnants
To make uncle Nudd whole.
The Sword of Light
And hand of silver flesh
Wielded against his brother
To restore him to the throne.

I saw the black blades forged
By twerger hands alone,
For Caswallawn
And the wealthy wolf
To drive the dark ones
From their home.

I saw a king
Seduced by chaos,
Abandoning justice;
Giving rise to a Dark Queen,
Dressed in green,
Bathing a kingdom
In self-indulgence,
Decadence and greed.

I was there
When Alberech
Threw down his cousin
By the black blade of Blaidd,
Watching his sea fortress burn,
A fire he lit
From a far younger land.

I watched
As he walked away
Into wilderness,
Into legends and dreams.

I was there
When the sons of Nemed landed
At the mouth of the Ituna.
Welcomed by fair Queen Uonaidh,
As if she’d been expecting them
All this time.
Giving them land and her daughters
As Prydein gave his name
To the land.

I was there
At Badon
When Arthur earned his name.
I heard the cheers,
I smelled the blood,
And knew it wouldn’t last.

I was there
On the Prydwen with Arthur,
Sailing to Eire or Annwn,
To rescue, to pillage,
And to have glory got.

I was there
At Camlann,
I saw Arthur fall.
Misunderstandings and murder,
Disintegration of the land.

I was there
When Gwion Bach
Stirred the Cauldron of Cerridwen
For and entire year.

I saw him burn,
I saw him alight.

I saw him devoured,
I saw him reborn.

I was there
When Elphin found the babe
And raised him as his own.
I heard him give the boy a name:
Taliesin.

9/7/18

Bran the Blessed

Bran, blessed crow,
Revered raven,
Son of the seas,
Brother of Branwen,
Defender of honor,
Keeper of the cauldron
Of life.

Gave Branwen’s hand
In marriage to Eriu’s land,
Revoked once the abuse
Of the King was clear.

After the battle
That broke his sister’s heart,
His disembodied head,
Cleaved from his neck
By a friend,
Talking and joking,
Keeping his comrades company
On the long
Journey home.

After 87 years
The sorrow settles in.
A silent head
Laid to rest
Under the White Hill,
Gazing toward Gaul,
Protecting and defending
Even in death.

7/6-7/7/18

Eriu’s Isle – a Tanka

Northwest of Prydein
Enchanted Emerald Isle,
On the border ‘tween
This land and the other-world,
From which the Banshees still wail.

7/3/18

My response to COLLEEN’S WEEKLY #TANKA TUESDAY #POETRY CHALLENGE NO. 91, “Magic & Green,” #SYNONYMSONLYCOLLEEN’S WEEKLY #TANKA TUESDAY #POETRY CHALLENGE NO. 91, “Magic & Green,” #SYNONYMSONLY.

Đwerȝaz

Two_Völuspá_Dwarves_by_Frølich

Đwerȝaz,
Đwerȝar Föðr, Twergar Fater, Dvergar Föðr,
Craftsman, smith; miner,
Born of Alβiz Alfar Föðr,
Apprentice to his great smith uncle,
βanðr Døkkálfar,
Called Svartálf, Black Elf,
Preferring the blackness of the mines
To the brightness of the day.

Dug out the labrynth underground
Mine city of Twerias,
Under the misty plains of Niðavellir,
Within sight of the spot
Where moonbeams shone
On the surface of the Rhun,
Where Móðsognir dug
And Durinn forged treasures
For elves, men, and gods:
Swords and spears,
Cups and cauldrens,
War hammers and wigs.

Four treasures for Alfheim,
Destined for Éire.
Thirteen treasures for Albion,
Isle of Alfar.
Six treasures for Asgard,
Forged in mischief,
Powerless to save them from thier doom.

1/16/18

Pronunciation Guide:
Đwerȝaz = Thwer-yaz (“th” as in father)
Đwerȝaz = Thwer-yar (“th” as in father)
Föðr = Fa-ther
Twergar = Twer-gar
Fater = Fah-ter
Dvergar = D-verg-ar (Old Norse, Dwarves, Plural of Dvergr)
Alβiz = Al-viz
Alfar = Al-far (old Norse, Elf)
βanðr =Van-thur (“th” as in father)
Døkkálfar = Dock-Al-Far
Twerias = Twer-ee-ahs
Niðavellir = Nith-a-vel-ear (“th” as in father)
Móðsognir = Moeth-sog-near (“th” as in father)
Alfheim = Alf-haym
Éire = Air-eh

Image:An illustration of two dwarves for Völuspá by Lorenz Frølich. Published in 1895 in Karl Gjellerup’s Den ældre Eddas Gudesange. Found on Wikimedia Commons.

Children of Danu

Danu, our mother,
Goddess of the Danube,
Sister of the Rhine,
Liquid lifeblood
Of Germani and Kelts.

Mother of Irish gods,
Who arrive in Éire
Riding clouds of mist and fire.
Ruling the Emerald Isle
Til the coming of the sons of Míl
Drove them to retreat underground,
Into the ancient sídhe,
Shadows in the Otherworld.

9/8/17

Pronunciation key:
Danu – Dan-oo
Germani – Jer-MAN-ee
Éire – Air-ya
sidhe – shee.

Note: I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to Irish Gaelic pronunciations, so some of these may not be exact. Corrections are welcome!

Painted & Tattooed Faces

caledonian-pict

Qritani, Pritani
Cruithne, Britani
Painted Picts
Give Britannia her name.

Nemedian prince
From the dark Formorians flee,
From Éirinn to Albainn fly,
Immortal Alba’s consort,
Prydein’s uncle and king,
Seven sons; Seven kingdoms
Ruled from the mother’s line.

Six brothers and a sister,
Continental Pictones flee
From unwanted advances in Gaul
To the open arms of Eire.
One brother died before they left,
Sister died on the way,
Only brother Gub and his son
Made it to the end.
Shipped off to Alba with Irish in-laws.

Caledonian strong
Never conquered by Rome.
Angles, Saxons and Jutes
Kept on their side of Hadrian’s wall
Until “Nobles” sold them out
For titles, land and some gold.

Together with worthy neighbors:
Gaels of Dál Riata, Britons of Strathclyde,
And others, under Cináed mac Ailpín,
Scottish forever more.

2/17/17

Pronunciation key:

Qritani = Kri-ta-nee
Pritani = Pri-ta-nee
Cruithne = Crew-ith-nee
Britani = Bri-ta-nee
Éirinn = Air-in
Albainn =Al-bane
Prydein = Pri-dane
Pictones = pict-o-nees (I think)
Eire = Aire-eh
Cináed mac Ailpín = Sin-aide mic ale-pin

Note: The illustration was found on WikiMedia Commons. Description: “Pict (or Caledonian), who lived in northeastern Scotland in Late Iron Age / Early Mediaeval times. As represented in a 19th century book.” Source: William Howitt, John Cassell, John Cassell’s Illustrated History of England: From the earliest period to the reign of Edward the Fourth., Editor: John Frederick Smith, Publisher W. Kent and Co., 1857. Page 6

Britannia

Clas Myrddin, Merlin’s Enclosure,
Ancient Elven sea fortress.
Albion, Alba’s isle,
Named for a goddess, a princess or a giant
—Or a giant divine princess—
Called Samothea after Samothes,
King of Celts,
Rich father Beli Mawr,
Husband of Danu, Mother of Irish gods.
Ynys Prydein, Isle of Britain,
Home to the Pritini,
Painted Pictish warriors,
Children of Cruithne MacIng,
Son of Fergus Lethderg,
Grandson of Nemed, High King of Éirinn
—Or a wandering tribe of continental Picts
Gifted land and women by Irish Royalty,
But definitely not a brutish patricidal
Trojan-Italian exile.

Land of Lear and Brennius burner of Rome.
Kingdom of Coel, Ambrosius and Arthur,
Home of Taliesin, Aneirin and Myrddin Wyllt,
Far beyond the north wind, adjacent to Avalon,
Doorway to the Otherworld in the West.

2/9/17