they put down their knives and forks,
wiped grease from their chins with napkins,
dared not look one another in the eye.
They bought the pork from market:
a joint with stuffing and apple sauce,
cooked it in the oven on gas mark 9.
When they started the rite it got weird.
The candles cast strange shadows across
limbs of a giant boar and ancient apples.
The living room became the great hall
of an otherworldly huntsman; fierce, fair
and tall. Surrounded by his motley host
to pipes and fiddles, the strum of violins,
they tucked in to the most delicious meal.
On a stake in the corner was a boar’s head.
Before its sharp gaze and curved tusks
a bard recited the story of Twrch Trwyth:
a human King transformed into a boar
doomed to be hunted then eaten by day,
by night made whole. Their hands trembled
like dropped pins but they dared not put
down their knives and forks or stop chewing
before the imposing eyes of the huntsman
until he had eaten his fill and thrown
the leftovers to his dog. They dared not
look one another in the eye as they cleansed
their fingers and left the table with a nod
of thanks to the leader of the hunt.
She dared not tell them for nights afterward
she dreamt of being reborn from a sow
as a porcine King growing up amongst
little piglets into a mighty warrior;
strong muscled, strong tusked,
running bristled through the forest
to meet the huntsman’s spear;
being slaughtered, spitted, roasted,
a head on a stick in the corner of the hall
watching as they ate the King by day
then at night he was made whole.
I wrote this poem last year after my experience of holding a celebration for Gwyn’s Feast (on September the 29th) which was based around Gwyn’s leadership of the hunt for Twrch Trwyth, ‘King of Boars’. A pork roast was cooked and a plate offered to Gwyn, along with meat for his dog, Dormach, and apples for his horses. The poem forms a slant take on my experiences.
Gwilym Morus-Baird has written an excellent series on ‘The Hunting of Twrch Trwyth’ beginning HERE.