View Sketch (DoL)

Daughter of Lir

Well, yes, rather fuzzy. The sketch was larger than the scanner bed, and I had to finagle a bit.

The decorative spirals forming the “splash” of water are adaptations of very early Celtic La Tene designs. The La Tene style of Celtic art is named after the first location that the distinctive style was observed, in an archaeological site at La Tene, near Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland. The site was first excavated in 1857.

Dating artistic styles is a complex issue, but the La Tene style is generally accepted to be dated from 450BC to the first century BC, in an area stretching from what today is France, east to Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The outer framework of the piece (not visible in the scan), is based on an even older Hallstatt pattern, adapted from artifacts dated from the early Iron Age in Europe, 8th-6th centuries BC.

 


Free at Last

Within the story of the Children of Lir, there are many rich descriptions and moments of melancholy beauty. My own moment of clarity in the story comes with the description of the empty hills, covered with nettles and dry grass, when the children are expecting at least a glimpse of their beloved father. After three hundred years of loneliness, ice and snow, the world gives them a final blow.

Many translations use the phrase, “hearts cracked with sorrow” to describe their devastation.

After this description, it is difficult to see how anything can seem fair. They are finally freed from the curse through an act of violence, as an arrogant king attempts to drag them from the saint’s chapel. After living through the curse of 900 years, losing their beloved father and all of their friends and family, they die and are buried together, without much of a feeling of fairness at all. Simply relief that it is over and they can lie quietly. Some translations provide a description of the ancient faces as bitter and miserable, as the swan feathers fall away.

This pagan/Christian transitional tale is not heavily embellished with descriptions of their rise to heaven, or eternal reward. Just relief.

And I always feel that I have reopened their story, as I reopen the book, somehow renewing their flight through the North Sea to the empty halls of their father.

Free at last…

 


Daughter of Lir

Daughter of Lir

Daughter of Lir
walks free
walking on the wet sand
feeble feet on the shores of Inis Gluaire

Feathers brush the water’s edge
bright wings sweep the sky
silver chains glitter in the mud
under the clear, cold water

Free at last
Thrice three hundred years have flown
Free at last
Empty halls with nettles grown
Free at last

From our need to hear your story once again.

KJN 1/09

 


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