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Lawrence Hall Nov 19
Lawrence Hall
Mhall46184@aol.com
https://hellopoetry.com/lawrence-hall/
poeticdrivel.blogspot.com

                What I Found While Cleaning a Faeries’ Well

Perhaps it was because I cleared the vines
The ancient vines, with tools of iron, of steel
And traced the circles of the well’s lost lines
With my unhallowed hands, by touch and by feel

Or that I wore my boots, or forgot my prayers
To the White Lady said to haunt this place
Or whistled secular songs, careless airs
Until the dusk, when I came face-to-face…

I have lived to tell of this wildest of adventures
I found on the lichened stone – a set of dentures
Despite my disapproval of exposition:

Until we became Roman and respectable, my Celtic and English ancestors made offerings at sacred wells associated with pixies and fairies and a mysterious White Lady, or Sheela na Gig.

I regret that the old well in my yard, the surviving structure from an old farmstead, is probably not a sacred well, or at least no more than any other well. While I was cleaning away the English ivy (which in English folklore binds lovers), I found on the edge of a brick a denture plate from years ago.

When I have finished cleaning the well, covering it with a sturdy concrete disc for safety, and topping it with a wrought-iron arch, I will add a crucifix.

I hope the resident Sheela / White Lady won’t mind.
The Song of Amergin: Modern English Translations

The Song of Amergin
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am the sea breeze
I am the ocean wave
I am the surf's thunder
I am the stag of the seven tines
I am the cliff hawk
I am the sunlit dewdrop
I am the fairest flower
I am the rampaging boar
I am the swift-swimming salmon
I am the placid lake
I am the excellence of art
I am the vale echoing voices
I am the battle-hardened spearhead
I am the God who gave you fire
Who knows the secrets of the unhewn dolmen
Who understands the cycles of the moon
Who knows where the sunset settles ...



The Song of Amergin
an original poem by Michael R. Burch

He was our first bard
and we feel in his dim-remembered words
the moment when Time blurs . . .

and he and the Sons of Mil
heave oars as the breakers mill
till at last Ierne―green, brooding―nears,

while Some implore seas cold, fell, dark
to climb and swamp their flimsy bark
. . . and Time here also spumes, careers . . .

while the Ban Shee shriek in awed dismay
to see him still the sea, this day,
then seek the dolmen and the gloam.



The Song of Amergin II
a more imaginative translation by Michael R. Burch

after Robert Bridges

I am the stag of the seven tines;
I am the bull of the seven battles;
I am the boar of the seven bristles;

I am the wide flood cresting plains;
I am the wind sweeping deep waters;
I am the salmon swimming in the shallow pool;

I am the dewdrop lit by the sun;
I am the fairest of flowers;
I am the crystalline fountain;

I am the hawk shrieking after its prey;
I am the demon ablaze in the campfire ashes;
I am the battle-waging spearhead;

I am the vale echoing voices;
I am the sea's roar;
I am the rising sea wave;

I am the meaning of poetry;
I am the God who inspires your prayers;
I am the hope of heaven;

Who else knows the ages of the moon?
Who else knows where the sunset settles?
Who else knows the secrets of the unhewn dolmen?

Translator's Notes:

The "Song of Amergin" and its origins remain mysteries for the ages. The ancient poem, perhaps the oldest extant poem to originate from the British Isles, or perhaps not, was written by an unknown poet at an unknown time at an unknown location. The unlikely date 1268 BC was furnished by Robert Graves, who translated the "Song of Amergin" in his influential book The White Goddess (1948). Graves remarked that "English poetic education should, really, begin not with Canterbury Tales, not with the Odyssey, not even with Genesis, but with the Song of Amergin." The poem has been described as an invocation and a mystical chant.

I did not attempt to fully translate the ending of the poem. I have read several other translations and it seems none of them agree. I went with my "gut" impression of the poem, which is that the "I am" lines refer to God and his "all in all" nature, a belief which is common to the mystics of many religions. I stopped with the last line that I felt I understood and will leave the remainder of the poem to others. The poem reminds me of the Biblical god Yahweh/Jehovah revealing himself to Moses as "I am that I am" and to Job as a mystery beyond human comprehension. If that's what the author intended, I tip my hat to him, because despite all the intervening centuries and the evolution of the language, the message still comes through quite well. If I'm wrong, I have no idea what the poem is about, but I still like it.

Who wrote the poem? That's a very good question and the answers seem speculative to me. Amergin has been said to be a Milesian, or one of the sons of Mil who allegedly invaded and conquered Ireland sometime in the island's deep, dark past. The Milesians were (at least theoretically) Spanish Gaels. According to the Wikipedia page:

Amergin Glúingel ("white knees"), also spelled Amhairghin Glúngheal or Glúnmar ("big knee"), was a bard, druid and judge for the Milesians in the Irish Mythological Cycle. He was appointed Chief Ollam of Ireland by his two brothers the kings of Ireland. A number of poems attributed to Amergin are part of the Milesian mythology. One of the seven sons of Míl Espáine, he took part in the Milesian conquest of Ireland from the Tuatha Dé Danann, in revenge for their great-uncle Íth, who had been treacherously killed by the three kings of the Tuatha Dé Danann, Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht and Mac Gréine. They landed at the estuary of Inber Scéne, named after Amergin's wife Scéne, who had died at sea. The three queens of the Tuatha Dé Danann, (Banba, Ériu and Fódla), gave, in turn, permission for Amergin and his people to settle in Ireland. Each of the sisters required Amergin to name the island after each of them, which he did: Ériu is the origin of the modern name Éire, while Banba and Fódla are used as poetic names for Ireland, much as Albion is for Great Britain. The Milesians had to win the island by engaging in battle with the three kings, their druids and warriors. Amergin acted as an impartial judge for the parties, setting the rules of engagement. The Milesians agreed to leave the island and retreat a short distance back into the ocean beyond the ninth wave, a magical boundary. Upon a signal, they moved toward the beach, but the druids of the Tuatha Dé Danann raised a magical storm to keep them from reaching land. However, Amergin sang an invocation calling upon the spirit of Ireland that has come to be known as The Song of Amergin, and he was able to part the storm and bring the ship safely to land. There were heavy losses on all sides, with more than one major battle, but the Milesians carried the day. The three kings of the Tuatha Dé Danann were each killed in single combat by three of the surviving sons of Míl, Eber Finn, Érimón and Amergin.

It has been suggested that the poem may have been "adapted" by Christian copyists of the poem, perhaps monks. An analogy might be the ancient Celtic myths that were "christianized" into tales of King Arthur, Lancelot, Galahad and the Holy Grail.

Keywords/Tags: Amergin, song, translation, Ireland, Irish, Celtic, Gaelic, Gaels, Milesian, Druid, Banshee
Kathryn Apr 20
It is cold tonight,
leave a saucer of sweet-milk
out for the fairies.
I had a deep love for Irish folklore <3 My mother believed in fairies and if I'm honest I hope they're real. So I write them little love poems and maybe someday they'll let me dance with them.
The Celtic Cross at Île Grosse
by Michael R. Burch

“I actually visited the island and walked across those mass graves [of 30,000 Irish men, women and children], and I played a little tune on me whistle. I found it very peaceful, and there was relief there.” – Paddy Maloney of The Chieftans

There was relief there,
and release,
on Île Grosse
in the spreading gorse
and the cry of the wild geese . . .

There was relief there,
without remorse
when the tin whistle lifted its voice
in a tune of artless grief,
piping achingly high and longingly of an island veiled in myth.
And the Celtic cross that stands here tells us, not of their grief,
but of their faith and belief—
like the last soft breath of evening lifting a fallen leaf.

When ravenous famine set all her demons loose,
driving men to the seas like lemmings,
they sought here the clemency of a better life, or death,
and their belief in God gave them hope, a sense of peace.

These were proud men with only their lives to owe,
who sought the liberation of a strange new land.
Now they lie here, ragged row on ragged row,
with only the shadows of their loved ones close at hand.

And each cross, their ancient burden and their glory,
reflects the death of sunlight on their story.

And their tale is sad—but, O, their faith was grand!

Keywords/Tags: Ile Grosse, Celtic, Cross, faith, belief, grief, Ireland, potato, famine
Ladyink Dec 2019
In the summer i hear
a street vender
Playing the brodhran drum
Those comforting
And relaxing thuds
He/she makes
For money
Seán Mac Falls Jul 2019
.
I see myself in you—
With a spike we two spoke out,
Vagaries of wind, verisimilitudes
And the moon gives us her light.

Black bird, black robed Druid,
We both are spinning round
The hills draped in psalms
Of the oak and windy leaves.

Your words, I hear, go unsaid,
My utterings babble, ring in a rill,
Cold and cascading to mosses,
Bleeding from a lone escarpment.
.
Tim Jordan Jan 2019
This is a hieroglyph in the middle of the ocean,
a message to the center of space,
it is Stravinsky in a metal box;
a prayer in the grave.
It is not to be heard, read, or felt,
but is sent out into the darkness
like the wheezing breath from my last cigarette ,
the chill of the last river I altered with my step,
the forever in the space between our eyes,
and the time machine of you and I.
There is a snap of electricity that moves you from here to there
and there is our world in the hollow spaces of your brain.
You are the blood, you are the marrow,
you are in my depths and in my narrows.

There was a little boy who saw a tail on the sun,
wandered into the wrong back door
and stumbled out the front
with a pocket full of kisses,
and there was a girl who was far from home,
tiny hands and full of wishes.

Close your eyes.

Do not read this next part.
It's a secret I cannot share.

There is a picture that I look at often and it is of a ridge of mountains,
snow on top, jagged edges like a page ripped from a magazine
and I know now what I didn't know then
that after I snapped that shot everything would change,
that I would go home and become something I never could be again,
that I would discard gods like tissue
and drive my car as fast as it would go in the rain,
that I would share this picture on a tilting Saturday night
with a sigh and the subtle rustling of metal and cloth,
a susurration settling over us like a shroud,
and that I would surrender myself to the chaos,
lose everything within our delicious destruction
and spend the rest of my life wondering where all the pieces of me landed.

This is a riddle you are not meant to understand.
This is a Celtic Cross spread by a dead man's hand.
"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." Friedrich Nietzsche
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