Monthly Archives: July 2017

Fate of the Lir-Brood IX…

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“…know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into his death?

Therefore are we buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life…”

 – Epistle to the Romans

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…Upon reaching the hermitage of Kemoc-the-Holy, king Largnen again requested that the Holy-Man release the four white swans into his charge.

And Kemoc again refused saying, “it is not within my power to so discharge these creatures.”

The king marched to the crude altar of stone at the centre of Kermoc’s cell on which the swans were resting, and grabbed the two slender silver-chains which linked them.

Tugging them from the rock towards the door of the cell, the silver-chains snapped, turning the head of the king, who was startled, to see the swans transform back into humans.

There stood Finnola, as an ancient crone, with Aedh, Fiachra and Conn beside her as three frail, old men.

King Largnen fled the hermitage in confusion.

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“Come, Holy-Man,” said Conn, “baptise us without delay for our death is near.”

“You will grieve after us,” said Fiachra, “but our leave taking is no longer sorrowful.”

“Make our grave here,” said Aedh, “and bury us together.”

“As we so often were in our life as swans,” said Finnola, “with Conn to my left, and Fiachra to my right, and Aedh before my very face.”

And the children of Lir were baptised, and so died, and were buried as they had requested in the shore-line garden of Kemoc-the-Holy.

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Green Light

The Silent Eye

sunday 060

Every day I drive the five mile stretch of road to my son’s home, then drive back. I do this seven days a week, every single day, except when I’m away. This stretch of road is an ‘A’ road… no parked cars, few turn-offs, just a couple of quiet junctions and very few bends. I know it well. I have been driving it daily for more than fifteen years. So well do I know it, that I barely have to think about it.

Nevertheless, all roads are alive in their own, particular way and taking notice reveals many surprises. This road passes through the fields and hedgerows of rural Buckinghamshire between the town and my village. Driving back today there were men giving the wide grass verges their annual trim and filling the air with that evocative scent of new-mown grass. Being a hot day, the cut grass dried quickly…

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Fate of the Lir-Brood VIII…

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Silent, O Moyle, be the roar of thy water;

Break not, ye breezes, your chain of repose;

While murmuring mournfully, Lir’s lonely daughter

Tells to the night-star her tale of woes.

– Moore

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… On account of the clamour about the talking swans generated by Elric, which had swept over the kingdom of Erin, Kemoc-the-Holy came to Inis Glora in search of the uncanny birds.

The four swans were drawn to the shore by the strange sound of the bell that kept the watch of hours throughout the night.

“Let us sing our song, now,” said Finnola, as she and her brothers drew near the lonely hut were Holy Kemoc kept his vigil.

At the sound of the Fairy Music uttered by the swans, Kemoc, emerged from his hermitage.

“Come, now to land,” said the Holy-Man, “trust in me and your long enchantment shall end.”

As the swans came ashore, Kemoc placed a slender silver-chain between Finnola and Aedh and Fiachra and Conn.

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There were other, less generous, forces in the green land of Erin which were desirous of the the four swans.

The ruler of Connacht at this time was Largnen, son of Colman, and his wife Decca, duaghter of Finnan, king of Munster, conceived an unhealthy hankering after the talking swans.

Political expediency meant that what Decca thought she wanted she usually received.

King Largnen sent to Kemoc requesting the uncanny birds.

But Kemoc-the-Holy refused to give them up.

So the king immediately set out for Kemoc’s hermitage…

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to be continued…

 

 

 

Fate of the Lir-Brood VII…

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No high-born heroes

No hounds in chase

No shields arrayed…

No walls.

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No silvered soft goblets

No light cavalcades

No youthful assemblies

No beetle-browed maids…

To brighten our desolate halls.

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…When their three hundred years were ended the swans left the Sea of Moyle and flew westward until they reached Erris Domnan and the sea around the Isle of Glora.

Here they remained, suffering much from storm and cold.

One night a frost so hard came that the whole of the sea was frozen into a thick floor of ice and the snow was driven by a north-west wind.

It seemed to the three swan brothers then that they could bear their suffering no longer and they began to utter loud and pitiful complaints.

Unable to console them, Finnola herself lamented with her brothers but at the end of the cold snap the swans flew to a small lake where they alighted and there began to sing so sweetly that all the birds of the district gathered in flocks around them on the lake and its shore.

The area became famous, now being known, as the Lake of Bird-Flocks.

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During the day the swans flew to points on the coast to feed…

To Inis Kea with its lonely crane, to Achill, and on, to the The Houses of Donn and the many islets along the headlands which look out over the shore of the western sea and beyond.

But at night they always made a dismal return to Glora.

So it happened that the swans came to the attention of a man named Elric who owned a tract of land which lay along the western shore.

Elric took great delight in listening to the plaintive singing of the swans and often walked down to the shore to see them and eventually came to converse with them.

He told his neighbours about the talking swans and their existence became mooted abroad.

He it was who took down their story and arranged its present form…

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to be continued…

Fate of the Lir-Brood VI…

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Where are my brothers?

Why have I lived?

This apex of affliction to know

What now is left

But a life of despair

I am unable to bear

Such heart-break of anguish and woe.

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…And what of the swans?

Miserable their abode on the Sea of Moyle with the dark, wild sea about them.

They began to suffer from cold and hunger.

One night a tempest fell upon the sea.

Finnola saw the sky of threatening clouds approaching.

“Beloved brothers,” she said, “it is certain this storm will separate us. We must appoint a place of meeting.”

“Your words are true and wise,” said Aedh.

“Let us fix on the Rock of One,” said Fiachra.

“It is a crag we are all familiar with,” said Conn.

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The swans were soon scattered over the waters by the storm but by morn-tide the havoc of the sky abated and Finnola swam to the Rock of One.

There was no sign of her brothers on the crag and no trace of them on the sea though she strained her eyes with looking.

She began to fear that she would never see them again.

Soon after she again looked over the sea and saw Conn swimming towards the rock, his head drooping, his feathers drenched by salt spray.

Not long after, Fiachra appeared, so faint with wet and cold he was scarce able to reach the crag and unable to answer when Finnola greeted him.

She placed her two brothers under each of her wings and said, “If but Aedh were here now all would be well.”

Soon enough, Aedh appeared, his head erect, his feathers dry and radiant. He jumped up onto the rock and nestled against Finnola’s breast.

“You think this a bad night, brothers,” said Finnola, “but we shall have many more like it upon the stormy Sea of Moyle.”…

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to be continued…

 

The Wyrm and the Wyrd: Caught on the Edge

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Wales llandudno, alderley, mines, 269

We had almost stopped there on our way to Wales. The suggestion had been made, but for some reason I had been reluctant to turn aside from our road west, for what might be no more than a walk in the woods. Not that we ever expected it to be that simple, but the mind goes its own way when looking for excuses. Especially when the inner voice is silently and inexplicably putting its foot down.

Wales llandudno, alderley, mines, 273

Consciousness dons blinkers, failing to see things that should be obvious, but which cannot become clear until the story has unravelled. It was as if some guiding spark of intent was aware of a chain of events spanning time, a sequence that had already begun, but had not yet reached a point where we could be allowed to see. And if that sounds confusing to read, imagine what it feels like to be caught…

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Fate of the Lir-Brood V…

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Hard the day when first I brought

Dark Eva in my house to dwell

Black the woman’s heart that wrought

Such a cruel and malevolent spell.

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…Lir departed Lake Devra with his company and travelled to the king’s house where he was greeted by Red-Bove’s reproach for not having brought his children with him.

“It was not by me that my children were prevented from coming here,” said Lir, “but by the sorceries of your own Foster-child.”

“But what can you mean,” said the king.

“Eva has transformed my children into four white swans.”

Red-Bove knew from Eva’s countenance that what Lir had told him was true.

“The wicked deed you have committed shall the worse for you,” said the king, and so saying he struck Eva with his own fae-switch and turned her into a Raven.

“This form shall be on you till the end of your days,” said Red-Bove.

Eva opened her wings and flew, with a scream, up and away, into the sky.

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Then went Red-Bove and his Crafty-Folk and they camped on the margins of Lake Devra to converse with the children of Lir who were now swans, and to listen to the fairy music of their song.

For three hundred years they dwelled there until one night Finnola told them that on the morrow she and her brothers had to depart for the Sea of Moyle.

A great sorrow then on the Crafty-Ones and the next morning when the four swans spread their white wings and rose from the surface of the water infront of all their friends.

Upon reaching a vast height in the air they flew straight to the north and when they spied the Sea of Moyle churning below them, they descended to alight on its swelling surface.

The Crafty-Folk grieved their departure and that day they made a law that no one in Erin should kill a swan from that time on…

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to be continued…

 

 

Pass slowly over me

Sun in Gemini

Pass slowly

Pass slowly over me

Blue and pearl of July sky

Lift from this day

A living crown of summer’s leaves

And place it on my hidden head

As lasting ghost of sky that shone

This done, let me pass this way 

When days are dark and short

And ground is mud and slush

When man and dog have weary feet

Their homeward trek near ended 

To wooden fire that warms the soul

With shortened strength in darkening eve

Let me pause a breath, remembering

And reaching back, pull down that crown

Then, for a heartbeat, blaze within

Uniting dark and light in song of human tide

Whose role and right is seeing both.

©Stephen Tanham 

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