(The Song of Elann)
I stand with the trees, as they wait for the rain.
I dance with their leaves, as they breathe the wind.
Upon the sea the storms are gathering,
as life within my womb like lightning
strikes the brink of mankind’s dreams.
I walk with the earth, as she circles the heavens.
I talk to the sky, as he fashions the seasons.
The waltz of life has found its pace;
the language of love has found its voice
within the bounds of time and space.
I stand with the fields, as they wait for the grain.
I bide with the meadows, as they bathe in the sun.
Above the land the clouds meander,
as life within my womb like thunder
shakes the stars from their jeweled beams.
I stand with the earth; I dance with the sky.
A well of joy, o God, am I.
©1994 John M. Marshall
(The Song of Elann)
I stand in awe of this garden of stars,
breathless in its wonder.
Like a child I search this house of jewels,
as through its halls I wander.
The winter wind in ecstasy
cries out above the thunder
rumbling through the distant hills
that hold the throne of mystery.
I reach beyond the depths of darkness,
fearless in my labor.
With faith I cross the sea of night
to find its gleaming harbor.
This moment swells with victory
and strengthens my endeavor
to take the hand of God in mine,
as I pass the gates of liberty.
Upon the teeming shores of light
the stars descend like snow;
as tears of rapture, tears of joy
reflect their swirling radiance.
My soul I offer freely
for all the earth to know;
and as above my vale of love
is given with humility.
©1993 John M. Marshall
Myrddin & Gwyneth: Thor’s Twins
(The Song of Elann, their mother)
I pause to rest in the apple grove.
Thunder roams the clouds above.
Within my womb, beneath the boughs,
life fulfills its ancient prophecy.
Heaven and earth resound with song,
as light throughout the night abounds.
Here where flowers turn to ash
the fruit of love will turn to flesh.
Here below the waxing moon
my hand of love inscribes the rune
that tells the tale of sacred thrones
upon the silent standing stones.
Within the vale the worlds have woven
the evening and the morning stars are born.
Cries of birth echo the psalm
that christens the sky and bathes the earth.
Music in the staff of life,
miracles in the maze of strife,
the twins of fate with care will seal
broken spokes in the wheel of time.
Evil plots to no avail.
Eternal truths of time prevail.
Hands and hearts of hope will heal
the festered wounds of a shattered world.
©1993 John M. Marshall
The Black Wolf
(The Song of Merlin)
The black wolf howls
as dusk prowls among the shadows.
Freed from the stones of ancient altars
his haunting song drifts above the willows.
As light retreats, the wolf entreats
the spirit of the moon to come forth
and shed her beams upon the dreams
of night’s primeval sleep.
Close to the flames of my evening fire
I sit entranced by the choir of spectral hosts,
as other voices repeat the sound
that shakes the ground like thunder;
and yet, in spite of the holocaust,
I sense some purpose I once lost to my vanity.
Hope swells within my soul
that like the wolf I might find
the muse of lyric poetry.
Here in the forest beneath the sky
I dream of the fires
my mother set in the apple groves.
From dusk to dawn with lilting voice
she told the ancient stories.
She spoke in time of the hearth of heaven
and of the starry circle dance.
She sang to the earth; she sang to the trees.
She sang to the night with love.
Nature’s soul possessed the smoke
that was my mother’s misty cape;
and now the wolf in my mother’s tongue
sings the same celestial song.
© 1993 John M. Marshall
My mother bore me into greatness from my humble birth in the forest
within a grove of apple trees at the center of the universe.
From limbs and leaves and fragrant herbs my mother made my crèche,
offering prayers to the moon and sky and hymns to the morning star.
She cried in pain, cried out in joy at the hour of my delivery,
as Thunder roared among the hills that ringed our sacred island.
Humble prayers were said that night in the fields of the Mighty Bear.
Around the wheel of Ceres’ Mill flew swans on wings of lightning.
At dawn’s first light such ill repose engulfed my mother’s aura!
Her sister from the western mounds had found her secret nursery.
Jealousy of my mother’s bliss had pierced her heart like arrows,
and like a prowling, ravenous wolf she paced the cairns nearby.
My aunt had wanted children, but no man could face her anger.
Her face once fair in cheerful youth had withered from her enmity.
She had become what villagers feared – a lonely, weathered crone,
weathered by the winds she braved to walk the hills at night.
Mother was a shepherdess, more beautiful than the mornings
that draped the flaxen meadows in silken wisps of dew.
One night within a hollow, as she watched her sleeping flock,
my mother said a storm arose that shook the stars from Heaven.
In fear my mother threw herself upon the quaking ground,
as the gale in sheaves of thunder split the trees in halves;
but all about the place she lay a stillness and a calm
bathed in flowers’ fragrance her lithe and prostrate form.
When the storm had whisked away as swiftly as it came,
my mother glowed in the golden light that sketches the skies of dawn,
no more the girl who chased the leaves across the windy plains,
a woman now at seventeen with child without a name.
In frightful rage her sister cried and ran towards the mounds
that rest in an eternal sleep in the land where the sun lies down.
So, too, the tribe, as the time drew near for my mother to give birth,
abandoned her to the wildest wood to be her home in motherhood.
Quickly my mother had gathered the boughs to make a raft for her child,
took me to the river’s edge and placed me in the tide.
From her sister’s evil wrath, for the safety of her newborn bairn,
with anguished heart but gallant soul my mother gave me to Neptune’s daughter.
Prince Elphin found me as an infant in a simple boat of reeds
along the shore where he walked at dawn to ponder the affairs of state,
found me at the river’s mouth where it flowed into Mare Vasta,
found me there beached and stranded, a little fish from the ocean’s depths.
I have served this prince of Wales; his house has been my dwelling.
No door or threshold hindered me, nor time of day or night.
His lavish table he made my own and called me friend and Counselor,
empowered me to advise his court, plan his battles, improve his laws.
In sadness now I recall the years Prince Elphin was my patron,
the battles fought with sword and spear to save his realm from invading tribes.
All those wars were won but one, and on that field my comrade died.
A fatal flaw in my battle plans took the life of my dearest friend.
I am done with schemes perverse and the petty magic of the Druids’ bards.
To seek the path of solitude is now my spirit’s one desire;
to the woods I now will go, cowering from the glare of shame,
to live in exile all my life that no man perish because of me.
What vain delight in games of chance had caused my cunning to decay?
What flickering flame within my soul had lost its light by my own breath?
As I place my prince in the waves, unanswered questions haunt my sleep.
Dreams of that which might have been stain my words with thoughts of death.
© 2004 John M. Marshall