Ffortiwna

Ffortiwna
you are beautiful
sparkling-eyed
contagious laughter

humming at your wheel
the silver threads of destiny
shimmering between your fingers
your silver thimble dancing
as you sew our garments

your magpies plucking
the threads and cutting them off
with a snap of their beaks.

On your loom we are broken
and rewoven more tightly
into your singing web.

You are spider-like
in your song many-eyed
watching over us.

You are undecipherable.

We count your magpies
but cannot guess your will.

You raise us up and whirl us
through the skies in your chariot
of thundering silver wheels
then you hurl us down.

Still I come to court you
with magpie-feathered hair
on bent trembling knees

in gratitude and acceptance.

Everyone weeps with me.

Wheels and Feather of Ffortiwna

*This poem was written as a response to ‘O Fortuna‘, a complaint about the goddess of Fortune in the Classical myths. A few months ago I had an encounter with the Gallo-Brythonic god Taranis and his daughter, who told me she was known as Fortune by the Romans. I afterwards intuited that in the eyes of the Britons she would have been known as Ffortiwna. This poems attempts to present a more balanced view of this goddess based on my personal gnosis.

Imagine the Old North

Imagine the Old North. What can it be? Can you see it in this land, from your green hill across the marsh how the ordinary people saw it?

Can you see ravens in trees amongst the crows? Was it common enough for magpies?

Can you imagine the rumours of embittered warlords and honey-tongued bards who sung their praises? Can you taste weak beer or braggot? Do you feast on dog or wild boar?

Can you imagine living in a world where the animals speak? How will you learn their tongues? Will they lead you into their expanses?

Your books are filled with stories. Can you imagine the ones who got away? How their hearts beat on river-banks and they were pierced by spears as carrion birds circled? How the sleek otter swept into the depths and carried their death-cries to his young? Can you imagine what the ravens whispered in their thatched nest?

Can you imagine the task of bringing peace to the battle-dead?

Where all the darkness of history wanders and I hold the spirits of Annwn backā€¦ can you imagine?

What can our poetry be? A sound, a scream, a panorama of the Old North in a beam of light?

River Ribble from the Ribble Way, east of Ribchester Bridge
*Questions posed by Gwyn ap Nudd.
**Photograph of the river Ribble from the Ribble Way east of Ribchester Bridge.