In the May Snow

For Gwyn

I.

In the May Snow
I mourn for you.

Crack willow take
my soul again

to the raven’s
places of Annwn,

to where the bones
are old and grey.

II.

In the cold castle
lies your tomb

and on its corners
stand four cranes

to coax your soul
from death and gloom,

to sing you back
to life again.

Signposts to Annwn: Lore

Book.of.Taliesin.facsimile

This posts shares some of the lore associated with Annwn. Awen, the divine breath of inspiration, is seen to originate from Annwn. Also included are passages about initiation, death and rebirth, and the soul.

Awen

‘Let’s approach God who is
– according to the utterance of Talhaearn –
the true judge of the worth of the world,
the One who adjudged the qualities
of passionate song.
He with his miracle bestowed
immeasurable inspiration:
there are 140 ‘ogrfen’
in inspiration;
eight score
in each one.
In Annwfn he ranged the (divisions of inspiration),
in Annwfn he made them,
in Annwfn below the earth,
in the air above the earth.
There is one who knows
what sadness
is better than joy.
I know the set gradations
of inspiration when it flows;
(I know) about payments to a poet,
about propitious days,
about a joyful life,
about the aeons of the fortress,
about the ones like kings,
how long their dwelling places (shall last)…

I sing inspiration,
I bring it forth from the depth.
The connected river which flows (around the world):
I know its might,
I know how it ebbs,
I know how it flows,
I know how it courses,
I know how it retreats.
I know how many creatures
are under the sea;
I know the nature
of each one in its shoal;
how many divisions in a day,
how many days in a year…’
– The Hostile Confederacy, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)

‘I entreat my Lord
that (I may) consider inspiration:
what brought forth (that) necessity
before Ceridfen
at the beginning, in the world
which was in need?’
– The Childhood Achievements of Taliesin, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)

‘Where does inspiration flow to,
at midnight (and) mid-day?’
– I am the vitality, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)

‘He (Urien) defended my song (emanating) from Ceridfen’s cauldron;
unrestrained is my tongue, a repository of inspiration.
That inspiration of poetry – my God created it
at the same time as fresh as fresh milk and dew and acorns…

I have three songs of consistent harmony
and they will be perpetuated by poets until Judgement.’
– The Chair of Taliesin, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)

‘Here is the declamation of a brilliant poem
of immeasurable inspiration…

splendid (was it) when there emanated from the Sovereign/cauldron
the ‘ogyrwen’ of triune inspiration.’
– The Chair of Teyrnon, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)

‘When the ‘Cadeiriau’ come to be judged
my own will be the best of them:
my song, and my cauldron, and my rules,
and my careful declamation, worthy of a chair in harmonious song.
I’m called a knowledgeable one in Don’s court,
I, and Euronwy, and Euron.’
– The Chair of Ceridwen, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)

Initiation

Sixty Years of Solitude

‘For sixty years
I endured solitude
in the water gathered in a band (around the earth),
(and) in the lands of the world.
I had a hundred servants,
(and) a hundred dominions after that.’
– The Hostile Confederacy, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)

Death and Rebirth

‘A hen got hold of me –
a red-clawed one, a crested enemy;
I spent nine nights
residing in her womb.
I was matured,
I was drink set before a ruler,
I was dead, I was alive,
a stick went into me;
I was on the lees,
separated from it, I was whole;
and the drinking vessel stiffened resolve,
(for) the red-clawed one imbued me with passion.’
– The Hostile Confederacy, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)

The Soul

‘Do you know what you are
when you are asleep:
a body or a soul
or a pale mysterious thing?…

The lamented soul –
who saw it, who recognises it?
I am amazed in books
that they do not know for certain
what the soul’s dwelling is,
(and) what its limbs look like;
from which region flow
the great wind and the great stream
in dire combat
endangering the sinner.’
– The Childhood Achievements of Taliesin, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)

‘I praise my Father,
My God, my sustainer,
who added, through my head,
a soul into my design.’
– Song of the Great World, The Book of Taliesin, (Haycock transl.)