Kwannon

Ancestor

  A Farewell (Lyrics: Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,

Thy tribute wave deliver:

No more by thee my steps shall be,

For ever and for ever.

 

Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,

A rivulet then a river:

Nowhere by thee my steps shall be

For ever and for ever.

 

But here will sigh thine alder tree

And here thine aspen shiver;

And here by thee will hum the bee,

For ever and for ever.

 

A thousand suns will stream on thee,

A thousand moons will quiver;

But not by thee my steps shall be,

For ever and for ever.


 

White Sow (Lyrics: J. Micale)

Mother, I can feel your heartbeat

Take me to your shadowed breast

Mother, I can feel your heartbeat

Take me to your shadowed breast

Take me in and spit me out

Oh white sow, oh white sow

Mother, I can feel you hunt me

Take me to your shadowed breast

Claw and feather, tooth and talon,

Take me to your shadowed breast.

Take me in and spit me out

Oh white sow, oh white sow

Mother, I can feel you catch me,

Take me to your shadowed breast.

Torn with claw and tooth and talon

In the deep of your shadowed breast.

Take me in and spit me out

Oh white sow, oh white sow

Mother, I can feel you boiling

In the heat of your shadowed breast

Bubbling, thrusting, upward rising

In the heat of your shadowed breast.

Take me in and spit me out

Oh white sow, oh white sow

Mother, I can feel you birthing

Thrusting me from your shadowed breast

Spear of light and upward rising

Parted again from your shadowed breast.

Take me in and spit me out

Oh white sow, oh white sow

 

Teach Duinn (Lyrics: J.Micale)

Donn, the dark one, the brown one, hue of the Earth! Donn, the dark one, first of the Sons of Mil! First ancestor, first one to tread and tend Death's halls, you who entered the Otherworld through the waters of the southwest so soon after sighting Eriu. Donn, dark one, brown one, hue of the Earth! You who welcome us at the Western Isle of Teach Duinn as we make our passage from this life to the next. Father whose halls make room for all the mighty hosts, in whose house we rest at the end of our life-journey, be welcome, welcome and thrice welcome!

 

Songs of Experience (Lyrics: William Blake)

Hear the voice of the Bard,

Who present, past, and future, sees;

Whose ears have heard

The Holy Word

That walk'd among the ancient trees;


Calling the lapsèd soul,

And weeping in the evening dew;

That might control

The starry pole,

And fallen, fallen light renew!

 

'O Earth, O Earth, return!

Arise from out the dewy grass!

Night is worn,

And the morn

Rises from the slumbrous mass.

 

'Turn away no more;

Why wilt thou turn away?

The starry floor,

The watery shore,

Is given thee till the break of day.'


Chorus: Cruelty has a human heart

and jealousy a human face

terror, the human form divine

and secrecy, the human dress.

The Human Dress is forged Iron

The Human form a fiery Forge,

The Human Face, a Furnace seal'd

The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge.


Auguries of Innocence (Lyrics: William Blake)

Chant: To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.

The spoken word portion is from Blake's Proverbs of Hell.

 

The Tyger (Lyrics: William Blake)

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


In what distant deeps or skies.

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?

 

And what shoulder, & what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? & what dread feet?

 

What the hammer? what the chain,

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp,

Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

 

When the stars threw down their spears

And water'd heaven with their tears:

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

 

Tyger Tyger burning bright,

In the forests of the night:

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The spoken word portion is from Blake's Proverbs of Hell.

 

Midnight invocation (Lyrics: J. Micale)

Come, night. Shake out your cloak of stars

as the green edges into blue

and distance sleeps under silver

and shadow. Come night! Tarry not.


The owls howl wild, their wings silent

over the bending of the grass.

Hungry paws pad last year’s leaves, watch!

And wait, and wait. A nose twitching


the plume of a red tail hidden,

a mercenary’s crest. Come night!

Hunter and hunted waltz, lovers

close in a dance that spans all life.

 

But come inside, then, for a spell.

The candles gutter, pool their wax

in the dish. Feet tangle the sheets

and fingers weave and dance slow, close,

 

to the rattle of katydids

and the fiddle of the crickets

the drums of frogs plucked from lilies

in the pond that mirrors the moon.

 

Midnight is the time for lovers

and philosophers, for mothers

looking in from the door frame, for

fathers standing guard against dreams,

 

for stargazers marking a course

so vast that flesh loses meaning

and mountains crumble into dust.

The sleepers sit out the wonder.

 

Over the blown roses, then, look:

Night dances, an art of beauty

and slaughter, veiled in the hidden

then stolen by the greedy dawn.

 

Snowflakes (Lyrics: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Out of the bosom of the Air,

Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,

Over the woodlands brown and bare,

Over the harvest-fields forsaken,

Silent, and soft, and slow

Descends the snow.

 

Even as our cloudy fancies take

Suddenly shape in some divine expression,

Even as the troubled heart doth make

In the white countenance confession,

The troubled sky reveals

The grief it feels.

 

This is the poem of the air,

Slowly in silent syllables recorded;

This is the secret of despair,

Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,

Now whispered and revealed

To wood and field.


The Jealousy of Emer (Lyrics: J. Micale)

Where are you going, your white hand knife-ready?

Steal away, come away, come and take what is yours:

your tears in the sea and lost in the eddy

 

the gray of the waves, your feet on the jetty

Steal away, come away, come and take what is yours.

Where are you going, your white hand knife-ready?


 The red of your heart’s blood the tale does not carry.

Steal away, come away, come and take what is yours:

your tears in the sea and lost in the eddy

 

The wind twists your hair but your pale grip is steady.

Steal away, come away, come and take what is yours:

Where are you going, your white hand knife-ready?

 

And she lets him go in the face of your fury.

Steal away, come away, come and take what is yours:

Where are you going, your white hand knife-ready?

 

your tears in the sea and lost in the eddy

 

Invocation at the Western Gate (Lyrics: J. Micale)

Remember. Sew together the edges of what was lost for a shroud, a bridal veil, a blanket for a newborn.

Old prayers blow in gray boughs by the well-edge, clooties, banners of causes unremembered. The Old Mother sews them together into a quilt of the unspoken. The figures of broken clay she knits together under the wave.

Remember. Sew together the edges of what was lost for a shroud, a bridal veil, a blanket for a newborn.

Bubbling forth, the spring from the deep, the tear from the eye, the blood from the wound. Salt on the tongue, it gathers to itself, flows forth, flows forth, rivulet and wave.

The voices of the dead are our voices. They echo from that sea isle, as the cattle of Tethra leap from the wave. They wait on that far isle, arms reaching and whole, in the sunset that is sunrise, the harvest that is a sowing.

Remember. Sew together the edges of what was lost for a shroud, a bridal veil, a blanket for a newborn.

a gray dusk and the wind stirs the dunes. gulls dance wave-side as a bobbing child collects shells. an old man writes with his feet on the shore as he remembers Niamh, the white horse, the breaking saddle.

unseen, the lights of Murias glitter through the gloom on the farthest shore. a coracle climbs the waves, in reaching toward and forward, betwixt and beyond. a song waits, a cauldron, a full belly, a cup of truth.

The voices of the dead are our voices.

Remember. Sew together the edges of what was lost for a shroud, a bridal veil, a blanket for a newborn.

 

A prayer for the hours before dawn (Lyrics: J. Micale)

In the moon just past fullness, a crescent pared from its belly, remember you are blessed.

In the white of night when none sleep, remember you are blessed.

When the owls call out the small creatures, driven by fear from the leaves, remember you are blessed.

When the veil wreathes the pockmarked face in a pale halo, remember you are blessed.

When the coyotes keen on the ridge and the hounds reply, remember you are blessed.

When the deer amble in their feast and hunger, remember you are blessed.

When marshlights dance at the crossroads, remember you are blessed.

When Midhir measures time in his pale hand and age beckons in the black curve of space, remember you are blessed.

When the stars are lost in dawn’s haze, remember you are blessed.


A prayer to Brighid in times of violence (Lyrics: J. Micale)

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those who hear the crack of thunder from a gun in a place of refuge, who see the sunlight glint off its barrel.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those where shots are as common as the cries of sparrows, where each step on the crumbling walk is taken with held breath and a prayer half-believed.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those who put the softness of their own flesh and the strength of their bone in the path of the bullet or the blade.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those with the swift feet or the limping, who flee pain to preserve life.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those sheeted in red, the wellspring of their blood spilling words and meaning on the ground.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those whose bodies are unmarred, but whose minds bear the scars of their witness.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those who stand confused on the shores of the Sunless Sea, their lives the unplucked apples of the Western Isle, their farewells and jokes and love notes unsaid, unsent.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those whose tears bear the barge to the Otherworld, who hold memories in shaking hands and hearts webbed with cracks.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those who knit limbs, who tend to souls and hearts, who offer the bread of comfort and the milk of nurturance.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those who bear witness, who share the words of truth and so drive off the black wings of silence and its carrion crow with their telling.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Bring peace to those who fire the gun and loft the grenade, to those that maim and those that kill, so that the fire of their rage is quenched in your well’s sweet waters.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Let your waters pour out with the peace of the singing brook scattering sunlight, the peace of the roaring white-maned sea, the peace of the drumming rain and the lake ringed with reeds.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Let your waters knit wounds and quell the blaze of rage, of pain, the starless deep of despair and the gray slate of indifference.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

Let us swim in your healing waters until we know that we are all enfolded in the same sea, that we are the sea itself, the sea coursing through the salt of our tears and of our blood, turned sweet by your palms into the deep well of compassion.

Brighid, Lady of Healing, fill us with your peace.

 

A Bhrigid, scar os mo chionn do bhrat fionn dom anacal.

 


 

 

Talamh

Oisin, at the shore, sees the woman (Lyrics: J. Micale)

---

You stand on the white strand by your love, not noticing the spray soaking your cloak, the foam lapping your feet, the call of your companions, the cry of your hounds. You do not notice the gull wheeling white above you, the high proud heads of the cliffs.


For there is nothing but the hidden sun on her hair. her white feet, high-arched. Her eyes first gray, then green, catching all the sea-colors in them, the gift of her father and mother, the wavewalkers of the boundary. Her pale hand reaches out, its fingers rose-tipped.


Your companions grab you back, grab your shoulder with their spear-roughened hands. They know who she is, and whisper her name, her line. You catch nothing of it. Her name, to you, is the cry of the wheeling gull, the roar of the sea, the timbrel of your heart beating. Her line is the smooth line of her hand reaching to you.


In the moment you take it, you know what is to be. You know: the three hundred years of joy, slowly edging to grief as the sun does toward its setting. The horse with its silver bridle, and the stumble that costs you it all. Grave mounds gone green, and the old, old man, crumbling to dust on the loam.


But her hand is warm and she smiles, light dancing on wavelets. The calls and cries fade behind you.


You know what is to be, and you melt in its embrace.


The Willow (Lyrics: J. Micale)

---

Your long hair swinging, you sway over

the mere to peer in its murky depths,

the bees singing the song of your name

O salce, salce, salce, O —


and the branches underneath the dun

forge the faces of the dead, beloved

and gone, humming with the bees their song

O salce, salce, salce, O —


Music is the delight of the dead.

Fleshless skulls sing from under the skree

send tendrils to the waters below

O salce, salce, salce, O —


The heavy scent of your garlands mask

the compost of misplaced desires, sins

and crimes. Even maggots make their place

O salce, salce, salce, O —


Make a garland of your hair, a harp

strung of its gold that tells always truth

the muddy pond steals back from the sky

O salce, salce, salce, O —


Garland dead lovers and living seers —

The moon pulling the tide to ebb

unveiling the dead under the foam

O salce, salce, salce, O —


Nine times nine, a chorus of witches

hums with the bees and the mighty dead

under that ghost light, that lamp of time

O salce, salce, salce, O —


Let your voice rise with the time and tide,

rush like waters under the tree,

lave the unclean, unshroud the hidden

O salce, salce, salce, O —


Your long hair swinging over the hole

that mirrors the sky, you sing with the bees

“Music is the delight of the dead”

O salce, salce, salce, O —


Secret Love (Lyrics: John Clare, 1793 – 1864)

---

I hid my love when young till I

Couldn’t bear the buzzing of a fly;

I hid my love to my despite

Till I could not bear to look at light:

I dare not gaze upon her face

But left her memory in each place;

Where’er I saw a wild flower lie

I kissed and bade my love good-bye.


I met her in the greenest dells,

Where dewdrops pearl the wood bluebells;

The lost breeze kissed her bright blue eye,

The bee kissed and went singing by,

A sunbeam found a passage there,

A gold chain round her neck so fair;

As secret as the wild bee’s song

She lay there all the summer long.


I hid my love in field and town

Till e’en the breeze would knock me down;

The bees seemed singing ballads o’er,

The fly’s bass turned a lion’s roar;

And even silence found a tongue,

To haunt me all the summer long;

The riddle nature could not prove

Was nothing else but secret love.


Rain Song (Lyrics: J. Micale)

---

Rain down, o Father!

The grass is yellowed,

the cattle thirsty.

Small birds cry for you


to dip the ladle

into your cauldron

and with a sharp shake

set the jewels to fall.


Rain down, o Father!

Your club low, dragging

makes thunder’s rumble

and slakes the streambed.


Oak of Two Blossoms —

pluck its strings and sing

the chorus of frogs

the tune of the marsh.


Set the frogs to sing

and insects to hum

your coming — sing out

to rain’s percussion.


A processional —

pageantry of green

awaits, if you come.

Rain down, o Father!


The Morrigan's Prophecy (Lyrics from the Cath Maige Tuired. For insight into its meaning, I highly suggest Brendan Myers' wonderful book, The Mysteries of Druidry.)

---

Peace up to the sky

Sky down to earth

Earth beneath heaven

Strength in everyone


Her White Cloak Brings the Spring (Lyrics: J. Micale)

---

Her white cloak brings the spring.

Oh, you have forgotten?

Are you so blind from white

snow and sky, everywhere

white and cold blue, glacial

in its speed and its time?


In its speed and its time —

underneath Her white cloak

the soil — warm and awake.

Even now, buds reach up

but not yet through — blindly

knowing the light above.


Knowing the light above,

we cook the bannocks on

the hearth and weave crosses

of reeds from the river

dug out from the ice. We

call Her name from the door.


Call Her name from the door —

and She answers, touching

scraps of cloth on the rail,

singing in the hearth fire,

settling in the reed bed.

Her touch brings forth the buds.


Her touch brings forth the buds

on the sleeping branches

rimed with snow, heads bowing

with their wait. Rainbows spin,

catching light in the ice.

Her white cloak brings the spring.


Proserpine (Lyrics: J. Micale and Homeric Hymn to Demeter, English translation)

---

The soil sleeps, you say–

silent, silvered by

the edge-waters of thaw

that pool underneath —


unseen, the deep rising

and wet, the mud of love

and death clinging, rank

with the scent of rot


and birth, the bulb that

bursts into flower at

Her touch as She rises —

but not yet, not yet.


She does not leave mushroom

halls, the pale snake of

roots, the trees underneath

branching into the black


She does not leave, for

there is Her heart in

the gleam of the gem-vein

the crown of Her lover


holy and black. Give garlands

and time, foot-stamping and

joy, seeds uncounted and

the red flesh of pigs


for a dowry hidden

in Her Mother’s deep breast —

lament and wedding hymn

as a torch lights the deep


and the Bright Headband leads.

But now is not yet, and

the soil does not sleep.

She is a serpent coiled


and tense with waiting,

flitting from love to love

a pendulum gliding

in its silent arc


Manannan's Song (Lyrics: J. Micale)

---

Look: the weathered wood of the barque

rides the leaf-green sea.

Look again: the white foam streams in

the wind, mane of mares.

A chariot skims the grass-heads.

Birds fly silver-scaled.


Another mystery of the road

poured out from a bag of crane skin.


Speak false, and cracks splinter the cup,

the mead splashing out.

Speak true, and wounds heal in metal

and flesh, silver bells

sound on the branch, bringing laughter,

sleep, surcease from pain.


Another mystery of the cloak

he shakes between us and other.


With meadow grass, we pay the rent

to Fand’s beloved.

Yellow blossoms, a cask of ale

where the foam touches

the sandy shore, echoing cliffs

or the fall of mist.


Another mystery of the gray

at the joining of dusk and day.


Son of Lir, all land is your fabled

isle, all seas your sea,

the changing of light in the depths.

All is mystery.

Look and look again: flowers, fish, grass

What is and is not.


Invocation of the Northern Gate (Lyrics: J. Micale)

---

Mud and flesh

Rock and bone

The arches woven of branches, oh!


The green shoot shatters its casing

The old leaf loses its greening

The raw flesh loses its meaning

after the bird has taken flight


Mud and flesh

Rock and bone

The arches woven of branches, oh!


From fire, the liquid stone oozing

down roaring slopes, its road choosing

the bird of a new land but losing

its living, a torch set alight


Mud and flesh

Rock and bone

The arches woven of branches, oh!


From shale, the rippling shores of seas

long-drained. From ignaeous, released

that great hearth, fine ashes — they freeze

into the long spine of the land


Mud and flesh

Rock and bone

The arches woven of branches, oh!


Deep and dark under the thin skin

of soil and salt, waters within

still deeper than the skull’s white grin

the dust of stars, the ebbing sand


Mud and flesh

Rock and bone

The arches woven of branches, oh!


The crone plants seeds in fresh-turned earth

her lined face turned to the sun, mirth

bubbling forth clear and green, the birth

after the bird has taken flight


Mud and flesh

Rock and bone

The arches woven of branches, oh!


The Shrike and the Thorn (Lyrics: J. Micale)

---

Black and white in the hawthorn, we form

a study in stark difference: on the

flowering branch, our feet curled on the spike.


Even small birds can be warriors.

We need no raptor's claws, only knives

of the tree, the barbed wire, our weapons.


For joy, we kill – the joy of smaller

bodies, strange fruit of the thorn left to rot –

even small birds can be vicious.


Limitless (Lyrics: J. Micale)

---

Know yourself to be limitless.

Seek your innumerable parts:

a birch leaf, newly minted in the dawn

a flock of birds unfolding a black ribbon in the sky

the whisper of water over rock

the groan of stone under the mountain.


Know yourself to be limitless.

Seek your innumerable parts:

the creep of moss on decaying roots

the rusk of a rooting boar

a pigeon feather, a starfish

the mud at the lake bottom.


Know yourself to be limitless.

Seek your innumerable parts:

the spiral of a snail’s shell

a red salamander under the leaves

a fungus stepping up the dead tree

a thousand shimmering faces of life

and half-life and death and life anew


A Song to the Young Son (Lyrics: J. Micale)

---

Aonghus of the hidden birth

Aonghus of the flowering tree

Aonghus of the lovers doomed

to meet in the darkness secretly


Aonghus of the rising sap

Aonghus of the green of May

Aonghus of the soaring swan

and the sound of sparrows at the break of day


Aonghus of the land of dreams

Aonghus of the poet’s art

Aonghus of the searching eye

and the trickster’s promise that ensnares the heart


Aonghus of the honeyed wine

Aonghus of the fiery will

Aonghus of the secret sweet

that for nine months makes a single day stand still


Aonghus of the land of youth

Aonghus of the gentle friend

Aonghus with his unseen cloak

And the heat of the summer that never ends


Aonghus of the flowering tree

Aonghus of the green of May

Aonghus of the lovers’ dance


and the sound of sparrows at the break of da