Kestrel's Nest

The Third Year - Winter
Samhain 2004 - Imbolc 2005

More changes in my life; the ground shifts, I am no longer sure what will happen next and, for probably the first time in my life, it doesn't bother me, and that's good...

Bedd Branwen (Branwen's Grave)
Child of Promise
Lines on the Great Tsunami
Queen of the Night


Bedd Branwen (Branwen's Grave)

In November a great friend asked me to house sit for two weeks. I'd paid only two brief visits before this to Ynys Môn and the thought of spending two weeks there was irresistable. Mona is a difficult mistress and, and as had happened on one earlier visit, I got more than I bargained for. During this time I made pilgrimage to Bedd Branwen. It is a wonderful spot, the more so for being away from prying eyes and tourists, on private land only approachable by permission. Anyone who has come in contact with the Mabinogi will know the story of Branwen daughter of Llyr in the Second Branch. It reads*:

A dodi ucheneit uawr, a thorri y chalon ar hynny. A gwneuthur bed petrual idi, a'e chladu yno yglan Alaw.

And she heaved a great sigh, and with that broke her heart. And a four-sided grave was made for her, and she was buried there on the bank of the Alaw.

Bedd Branwen ac Afon Alaw © Angela Grant (Kestrel) 2004

Glan Alaw
green flowing
onward going
blowing sowing
future seeds.

Here a legend lies
told turn again
ageless yet new
with every telling
swelling upwelling
tears sadly crying.

Young she was
and beautiful
pledged to a foreign king
her brother hated
baited frustrated
and in his hatred
destroyed his house
his lord his country
and only seven
came from the isle of death
only seven in Prydwen sailed
to tell the tale.

And the maiden
mother torn from child
rejected by her husband
her family slaughtered
rescued at such a cost
no rescue to despair
spare to share
hollow victory
her heart broken
death claimed her.

Her grave four-square
by Alaw’s bank
marked by a stone
in twain split
as her heart
a place of water
and slaughter
and cauldron’s fire
fit memorial for such as she
so shall it be
and it will be
to all eternity
a sign to show
that hate and war
brings bitter harvest
death breeds death
and ever will.

Life breeds life
green flowing
onward going
blowing sowing
future seeds…

© Angela Grant (Kestrel)

*Middle Welsh text from: Ifor Williams, Pedeir Keinc Y Mabinogi allan o Lyfr Gwyn Rhydderch (Caerdydd, Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru, 1930).
English translation from: Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones (transl.), The Mabinogion (London, Everyman Library, 1949, Rev Ed 1993).

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Child of Promise

I'm not sure what to say about this. I don't really write poetry that rhymes and scans yet I produced this. I think my Muse must have been in the hands of Beli Mawr this particular morning. Yes, I was in high spirits, for the turning of the year brought great promise...

O, look to the South in the morning
For the time of the darkness is through;
O, look to the South in the morning
For the Promise will soon be renewed!

For in darkness a Spirit is forming
Though the ground may be hardened by frost,
And a new Light will shortly be warming
Though the Shadow may still have a cost.

From the Earth and the Sun's consummation,
At Beltaine so readily made,
The new Seed that gives hope to the nations
In the womb of the Mother was laid!

So in home and in town and in steading
A new Spirit will rise in the heart
For a new Child has come from the bedding;
A new cycle is ready to start!

O, look to the South in the morning,
For the Mother is birthing her Son!
The Light of a new hope is warming;
Now welcome the glorious new Sun!!

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 26/12/2004

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Lines on the Great Tsunami, December 2004

After the high spirits of the turn of the year came the terrible pictures of the thousands killed by the tidal wave caused by the earthquake in the sea off Ache in Indonesia. It brought home the reality of how precarious is man's hold on this planet. We maltreat her, cut into her, expect her to give us all her bounty. Sometimes the bill has to be paid for all this. Even by the innocent. For are any of us really innocent...

Death, I am She.
In the Earth I move
where the grating rocks shall roar,
suck in the foaming waters
and spew them forth
with such a force
shall shake the nations of the earth
and bring them to their knees.

My waters are not calm
and bringing life;
my waters are high and dark
and crash and tear and bury
and force the air of life
from many a child.
No creature shall escape me
whether man or beast;
nothing shall resist my power.

Fools, while you celebrate
I nurture my strength
in the folds of Earth.
Death, I am She.
Beware, for I am here.
Be ready.
I am now.
I am for you!

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 31/12/2004

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Queen of the Night

This winter the Queen of the Night came to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and with the Museum's permission we had a rite to welcome and honour her. She really is a powerful figure. I went before her and made offering and asked a prayer. In return I received something like a kick in the stomach and the awareness I had received a gift though I'm not sure what it is yet. Most of the rest of the rite I was out of it, somewhere else, and only came back when I heard the closing words being said. This poem is a sort of description of the journey I went on in those few minutes, make of it what you will.

Lady of Darkness,
does your darkness have an edge?
Are there colours can see through
this blank blackness of time?
Gold shines like a summer sun,
held back by hands
to stop its rising.
The hands absorb the gold
and shine themselves.
Is this absorbed light your own?
Is there a heart of light
in obscure obscurity
vanished as a candle flame
blown out by the wind?
There is fire in your darkness.
A light seen only by the few
who can feel its truth.
Lady of Darkness,
my thanks for seeing
what cannot be seen...

© Angela Grant (Kestrel) 24/01/2005