Merlyn, on His Birth
by Michael R. Burch
I was born in Gwynedd,
or not born, as men may claim,
and the Zephyr of Caer Myrrdin
gave me my name.
My father was Madog Morfeyn
but our eyes were never the same,
nor our skin, nor our hair;
for his were dark, dark
—as our people’s are—
and mine were fairer than fair.
The night of my birth, the Zephyr
carved of white stone a rune;
and the ringed stars of Ursa Major
outshone the cool pale moon;
and my grandfather, Morydd, the seer
saw wheeling, a-gyre in the sky,
a falcon with terrible yellow-gold eyes
when falcons never fly.
Legend has it that Zephyr was an ancestor of Merlin. In this poem, I suggest that Merlin may have been an albino, which might have led to seemingly outlandish claims that he had no father, due to radical physical differences between father and son. This would have also added to his appearance as a mystical figure. The reference to Ursa Major, the bear, ties the birth of Merlin to the future birth of Arthur, whose Welsh name (“Artos” or “Artur”) means “bear.” Morydd is a another possible ancestor of Merlin’s.
Keywords/Tags: King Arthur, Arthurian, Merlin, round table, knights, England, chivalry, Camelot