Behind the Sun (The Oak and the Vine)

Behind the Sun (The Oak and the Vine)
…From ‘Songs of Arcadia’

Raven sits with ruffled feathers,
Stately dancers pass him by.
Bored with stealing tawdry glitter,
Bored with pockets filled with glitter,
What to do with diamond glitter?
Tosses it into the sky.

Raven hunches, preening feathers
Everdark with soot and smoke.
Stole the Lamp, the Evershining,
Gift to Man, the Everwhining,
Scorched by Fate, the Everbinding.
Whole thing meant to be a joke.

Raven grumbles, hoarse and cranky.
Voice no longer sways the heart.
Cursed the dancers’ drunken leaping,
Chased the dancers and their leaping,
From his Gaia, softly sleeping,
Waiting for a song to start.

A new song is coming
The old song will twine
Springtime and Summer
The oak and the vine

Sun in the branches
Moon drunk on wine
Autumn and Winter
The oak and the vine

Raven flying, sharp and restless
Hunts for something new and bright.
Eyes of Gaia’s children watch him
Hide behind the sun to catch him
Do you have the wits to match him?
Mocking laughter, thief of night.

 


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…

 


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