Poem #31

Cad Goddeu…

I have been in many shapes
before I attained a daimon form.
I have been a narrow rapier.
I have been a drop fallen with the rain.
I have been as shimmering as a death of a star.
I have been a word: illumined in a book.
I have been a light warding off a nightmare
from within a lantern.
I have been a half and a whole of a year
waiting to see.
I have been a fern for passing over.
I have travailed as an eagle.
I have been a dreki on wet waves.
I have been a skald in battle.
I have been a buckler in the fight.
I have been a caldron in Annwm.
I have been a hair of a child’s pelt.
I have been the string of a harp
I have been a string of seaweed.
I have been a tree in a valley.
I have been bark on fire.
I have fought, though little,
in the Battle of Goeden Brig
before Arawn, Ruler of Annwm,
before the King of Britain,
before the Emperor of the Underworld.
To an Awenyddion in flyting,
a British bard in flyting,
bard ye jest, in flyting
with a fleet so ye think.
They think of a monstrous beast,
a beast with a hundred heads,
that beast that takes up combat with
the tips of their tongues, instead.
Made for another fight,
the fight at the back of their brains,
a toad with a hundred claws for thighs.
And one spotted crested snake for more curse,
for punishment feed on their flesh
whom pacify a hundred souls said, “…to have sinned.”
I was called for service at Fort Fefynedd.
Wayfarers feared the charms of my works.
The experienced warrior halted as a stone from a field.
Witness a revival of conflicts
such as Gwdion made.
Yonder are advancing the grasses and the trees.
Out of barren denuded glens I arrived with black alder
dragging over the crumbled soil with willow
and into the smoke I spoke with quickbeam.
Armed with the spikes of holly,
we were as an oak and faded between life and death.
Our furze filled with hives of bees.
Take a leaf of ivy in your teeth.
Ye who struck our handled hazels soured at its scent.
Our numbers blended with the wilds thanks to fir.
So hard for them to distinguish time when set in the shade of ash.
Gripped in anguish were their crops.
We laughed as their mouths dropped to vacant mud and dirt.
What lunes and delinquent still thought to take a stand
though it was late, the birch rightly took to our hand.
What of our war weary?
The heath had her way of consoling
the ailing long in the fray,
yet her sooth saying could not mend our poplars
whittled out,
cast out,
too many holes to withstand any bout.
And from within our vines in commune with their fellow elms
our fairies stole the treasures of men and women
that had lived healthy springs.
Keeping warm our silvan home
privet and woodbine and pine hath stayed.


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