A Dirge for the Elders

He walked among the fallen gods of earth.
Blackened and smoking still. His friends.
The great oaks stood round in a circle
for a thousand years talking in a language
few humans understood, left unheeded;
and now the Romans had burned them,
torched them, razed them to the ground;
it was almost too much to touch or bare,
the elder clans of song now gone beyond.
On the outer edge the Clans stood encircled
in silence
as the Elder Druid walked the circuit,
studying what remained of time’s gods.

No more the voice that came in the leaves.
No more the fragrance of the sacred flowers.
No more the speech of wisdom’s love and fire.
The Sacred Groves are no more, no more:
and we the living are now dead with them,
blackened by the night in a broken world
of the mistborn tribes who have all fallen.
This, this alone, was our last grove,
the elder circle of the clans. Now gone, forever!

Wail bright ones for the fallen ones,
for the mystery of their green life;
and for the power of the goddess and her light!
All gone, gone forever never to return from darkness:
Blessed the seed god born time’s wings have stirred,
for we the elders of the clans shall shelter them forever!

He looked up and studied the weavings,
the slow turning of the silver wheel,
the light born clans above
who saw everything,
knew everything,
judged everything.
Then he turned back and down to his people speaking:

Under the white stars the gods of earth
who once proudly walked among us
are now ash and memory, defeated
by tribes foreign to our ways – Caesar,
their chieftain, a demon of their world;
and his betrayal of the circle is a debt
that will be paid in time before time dies.

Curse the day his mother bore him, now
and evermore; for he shall hold a debt
that cannot be paid but by those closest to him,
and blood is drawn by blood, a sacrifice to the gods.

He walked round thrice the circle then looked up
and spoke slowly and clearly to his fellow druids:

“Come, my brothers. Gather round, gather up the seed
of these great trees, the children of the goddess.”
The old druid and his clan walked among the fallen,
singing of the cycles of all things in time gathering seed;
and, remembering the
 green myth of life, and of her
for whom gods
and men alike are bound:
the rowanberry goddess of love, blood, and war.

 – Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Note: Been rereading Robert Graves The White Goddess & his Collected Poems of late. When I was younger I wandered through much of the literature of the ancient Celtic Peoples and have always been fascinated with that time period of the burnings by Cesar as he conquered tribe after tribe throughout Europe and razed all the ancient sacred groves one after another and outlawed druids and their religion from the earth. I thought it appropriate to have the Elder Druid curse Caesar in prophetic form, seeing as it would be Brutus, his own bastard son who would be among those closest associates and friends of Cesar who would all kill him as a sacrifice to Rome; and, by way of this a debt paid for the Celtic peoples. The great story of Vercingetorix the last of the great Celtic chieftains to gather the tribes was finally caught and enslaved by Cesar, brought to Rome and five years later sacrificed to the Roman Gods.    We saw a partial resurgence of such a culture in the 11th through 12th Century with the massacres and genocide of the Languedoc people of Southern France as well. Seems a repeating pattern by religious and earthly power mongers through time.

13 thoughts on “A Dirge for the Elders

      • I sometimes try to imagine the world if the old tribes had survived on all of the continents rather than the Roman Catholics… It is difficult

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      • I know when I wander through the Appalachians and the Catskills and meet people there I get a hint of those old clannish ways at least here in the States. Most of these people are descendants of Irish who came over during the great potato famine, but not of Catholic or Protestant values and had there own ways. Still do in many of the hill people.

        I know I read Seamus Heaney but he seems influenced greatly by Catholicism. Other Irish poets not as much. Of course Yeats it was all the occult and early scholars of a fictional twilight in that era. Scholars know more about it through archaeological and other forms now. Fascinating to think about as you say…

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      • I truly love Yeats- he spoke so clearly of the old ways. He wrote a book of folklore he collected from peasants and countryfok- I can’t recall the name just now.
        I am Native American (married an Irish farmer, hence living in Eire) and there is still very much a clan culture

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      • Yea, with British rule in some areas, and modernization in others I’m sure its tough that way. Even the older languages are vanishing from what I read, since many of the younger don’t pick it up or learn the older ways now in some parts.

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      • That is a major issue. Here in Ireland everyone is required to study Irish throughout school. If only the tribes had more authority over the schooling of our people. That is a fight in itself. Uuugggh…. Don’t even get me started on the British. 🙂

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