Friday, June 07, 2013

Briefly it enters, and briefly speaks


A few months ago, I shared here the so-called Song of Amergin, traditionally the first poem written in Ireland.
I am the wind on the sea,
I am the ocean wave,
I am the sound of the billows,
I am the seven-horned stag…
…and so on. The poem is pre-Christian, druidic, pantheistic. The "I", as I understand it, is the mysterious, all-pervading power afoot in the landscape called neart in Celtic tradition, to which the gods were simply a way of giving a human face. Neart is unknown and unknowable, but sensed everywhere. The "I", as I read the poem, is also the reader (or auditor!) of the poem, the human perceiver who is at one with all that exists.

Yesterday I came across a poem by Jane Kenyon, who I have written about here, that seems to be in conscious homage to The Song of Amergin.
I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .

When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .

I am food on the prisoner's plate. . . .

I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .

I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .
…and so on. You can read the entire poem here.

Here, too, I think, is the ambiguous "I" -- the pantheistic neart, the poet, and the reader of the poem. This is what we all seek, is it not? A sense that everything is holy, and that we are inexplicably part of it, even in a world that is sometimes broken and painfully cruel.


(Reprise tomorrow, Anne on Sunday. On Monday I will be off to Ireland. Back here I hope on Wednesday.)