Hush: The Wide Eyed Child is Sleeping In The Longed For Land

A Cradle Song From The Land of The Young 


Dinogads cloak is speckled, speckled

I made it from martens’ pelts-

whistle, whistle a whistling

I used to sing him, the eight slaves used to sing him.

he would call his (?) aggressive hounds

Giff, Gaff, catch! Fetch! Fetch

He would kill a fish in his coracle,

as when the (?) brilliant lion slays,

When your father would go to the mountain

he would bring back a roebuck, a wild sow, a stag,

a speckled goose from the mountain,

a fish from the Falls of Derwennydd

Of all that would come against you’re father and his flesh dart

-of wild sows and foxes from the wood of Llwyfain-

none would escape if it were not on wings


John Koch (ed.s) The Gododdin of Aneirin: Text and Context From Dark Age Britain

Things To Do In Edinburgh With Dead Words of Power

Shapeless, Unsightly, Devoid of Form and Substance: That With Out Shame


lit Dog/Wolf/ Human/of reason


lit, to go a howling/ a wolf in human form

Dead and forgotten words from a 6th century Irish legal text, the law of blood letting. Medical text charting compensation payments for injury.

The two words above and another form a trinity of three female figures each entitled to half compensation payment. Confael is entitled to lift cattle as here vengeance is justified. Long term her kindred it is to be suspect are on a downward spiral.

Its thought by some that this form of legal move is what allows both for the massive shifts in identity of large population groups and language replacement, although in this case its the downgrading of female status.

Violence is regulated through the payment of compensation for injury. It limits acts of vengeance. Long term it places effected societies at significant economic disadvantage you get a slow movement from free status to that of slave over a few generations. As this is an extremely small scale society as a slave you are sharing the same one room hut as you’re master, large scale shifts in both ethnic identity and wholesale linguistic change can be enacted at a this face to face level and replicated throughout a larger landscape.

See the same move in Anglo Saxon legal texts and early Scottish ones. These are not the internal laws of kingdoms but are drawn when kingdoms are annexed with each other, concern is with two differing population groups rather than one although by design the intention is to create one dominate cultural grouping by the slow and painful economic eradication of one group and a decent down the food chain.

Significant explanation in regard to the transformation of Ethnic groups and the wholesale eradication of Celtic language from large parts of Britian in this period and it may be a much older legal move.

Topic I am familiar with, not whats making these creatures spring to mind at the moment, an idea that’s new unfamiliar and uncertain.

A potential relationship with time and a specific form of time that regularizes the rhythms of ritual acts of violence.

Tongue Tied and Twisted

Altered State: The Gift

“His sword resounded in the heads of mothers”

After beating my head with a stick for writing something awful yesterday I discovered what I am doing with this. I can dispense with history extract a few terse lines and see if they do actually give the poem its sense of time and cause movement.

The movement in question the muscle stroke and coordination required for a piece of metal to sing through the air and hit flesh and bone without thought and delivered with emotional certainty.

The song was to be sung for eternity, the survival of the Gododdin dependent upon an appropriate space that motivated its performance and allowed a mass audience to be captured and ensnared within its rhythm.

The sword stroke that completely absorbs the fallen enemy warriors mother will also replicate itself in sound and rhythm, in screaming, lament, the keening of women.

A ritual act that allows individuals to become one, a focal point for group formation ready  to engage in reciprocal action and strike back.

Goddodin: The Story

As usual not posting what I promised to in the last post. Want to get into the habit of writing however loose and I have managed to misplace not one but the three versions of the texts I have. I dug them out last week, where are they?(edit. under the coffee table in the living room).

Give a very simple and dirty short version of the narrative that surrounds the poem and touch on some aspects of its early history and cultural origins. Don’t really want to touch on the history, social organization of war-bands or identity or its long use through time as a working text with a range of cultural and ideological functions. Somewhat more involved.Treat whats below as the story I’ve included some historical background but in terms of the basic plot of the poem its a story rather than a fact of history. So to begin.

The Gododdin (the double d is pronounced th)  is  a poem with a very strange stemma in part which suggests sections of it are extremely old dating to the early 6th century. Originally it would have been composed orally and sung. Its epic in scope, unrelentingly heroic in tone but is comprised as a series of elegies to warriors who died in a major battle.

Its attributed to Aneirin who is known from other sources and thought to be a historical figure. Considered to be one of the founders of the Welsh poetic tradition in the early 6th century. One later source describes him as a women but all other references refer to him  as male. This is not an example of timeless age old Celtic culture and tradition, the poets of the Welsh rulers would only have recently moved from singing the praises of the ruling classes in Latin.Its an urban and Roman culture in collapse, economic melt down has lead to a decayed city structure. Move back to village level and older Iron age hill forts are re-used during this period for defense.

It is possible to offer points of comparison between what we know of a much older Celtic culture from western Europe but the similarities are due to the similar social structure and scale of society rather than cultural continuity. Gododdin is one of two significant British kingdoms in the Old North of Britain. Strathclyde on the west coast and the Gododdin on the east with its chief aristocratic center at Din Edyn (Edinburgh).  British language was P Celtic, archaic Welsh, spoken in much of England, Wales and Scotland, the Pict’s also spoke P. Celtic and Pictish warriors form part of the Edinburgh cohort according to the poem. Two other notable British kingdoms of the north that play a considerable role in early 6th century poetry and later imagination are Elmet centered around Leeds and Rheged, with Carlisle as its base. Edinburgh fell early to the Anglo Saxons the poem survived as it was written down in a Strathclyde Ecclesiastical scriptorium and then transferred to Wales where it was long sung in the halls of its aristocratic rulers.

North of the wall Rome had never held power but the British kingdoms North and South of the wall had a comparable culture and close ties at the close of Roman Britain. The only contemporary historical source for the late 5th century, a polemic written by a British priest Gilda’s on the ruin of Britain has a notable tendency to strongly castigate southern rulers as tyrants, unlawful rulers filled with greed and sin (The Anglo Saxons Gods judgment on a profligate people) but is silent in regard to the rulers of the northern kingdoms. The British North of the wall had never had an urban economy and short term may have been in a more secure and stable situation although the longer term effects of migration and weakening of the kingdoms to the south would become a Northern issue soon enough.

Strife At Catreath

The story is a simple one. The king of the Gododdin forms a warband who are trained and feasted on castle rock Edinburgh (the site of a 6th century hill fort). The war-band is comprised of the children of the aristocracy aged around 10 to 14 years. Target is Catreath a Northern English stronghold (not identifiable) held by the Anglo Saxons. 300 warriors of the Gododdin storm south and are slaughtered almost to the last man (or child).

The poet knew each child personally, his poetry sung in the hall as they were feasted and fed on the kings wine and mead. They are inspired into battle by the promise of everlasting fame in song. They will not live long in life but for all time in in death. The poet has ensnared and inspired the slaughter, he carries a heavy burden and responsibility to ensure they are remembered for all eternity.Its the poets role to get to know these child warriors in life as his function is to praise and note personal characteristics in death. Personal involvement of the poet adds to the emotional impact of the song giving it a more personal tone, although it’s function ultimately is to legitimize the authority of the ruling elite and to declare the public and legitimate nature of violence.

The economy of the war-band is a gift giving one, reciprocity between King and warrior. The King provides the feast, the warriors fed with his wine and mead, given rich gift’s. This is a bling bling culture of display, consumption is highly conspicuous, highly ritualized and symbolic. One of the many reasons to despise the English suggested by the poem, is that unlike the warriors of the Goddodin they are not ostentatious, it is to be suspected the inference is they are poor warriors who have not won the shiny ornaments and fine clothing of the successful warrior. The poet here also has a debt to honor and the price a high one….

Stick this up raw, tidy it up and add further details. Not state what will come next but will probable try to get the poetic symbolism out of the way first. The role of the gift and the contract between king and warrior is the aspect that leads from art into how war-band’s operated in life and the life of this poem was considerable. The poem was described by one of its translator as a subject not fitting for anyone interested in ideas due to its unrelenting heroic tone. I think that depends on what kind of ideas you are interest in. The poem is an odd mix of things but it is a means of touching however far away and distant the mind and imagination of a very different culture and it charts a strategy for surviving with the living the dead and the dying in a hostile and stressful environment from within a culture under intense pressure and burden.

Willie and Alford

vlc 2012-06-15 19-32-42-64

The Fisher King On The Horizon of Time Or Being A Sun Quenched At Its Rising

Medieval cradle song about hunting next. A somewhat out of place domestic inclusion into an otherwise unrelenting vision of blood, death and decapitating evil Anglo Saxons that was most popular in medieval Wales as it formed into an identifiable state. Welsh poetry takes a distinctive and dramatic melancholic turn from the 9th century, an identity built on loss and suffering in the ruin of a perceived fragmented Britain that had once been whole. An emotional response from within a violent and troubled state and an aristocracy seeking power, legitimacy and as the poets promised fame for all eternity.


How Doth The Little Crocodile

Locating The Present

Locating The present

Into The Flow

“Sometimes the timings of human life are compared to those of the physical and organic worlds- to geometric movements or those of the life cycle of seasons, plants and animals. Yet there is a distinctive aspect to the significance of ‘timing’ in the flow of human actions; images of time in social life may counterpoint the ubiquitous rhythms of physical or organic nature but are not reducible to them… But to help ourselves along we have an interesting habit of invoking shape, regularity, and rhythm as we speak of, and enact, the ‘timings’ of actions and events we take part in, or learn from others. Our language is full of such idioms of regularity from grammar and vocabulary to the stories we tell of the past the present and the future, not to mention the ceremonial occasions which mark our shared sense of time, and these cultural conventions thus help us to locate ourselves in a more or less predictable and comfortable knowable ‘present’. Our sense of timing is imbued with a sense of where we are in relation to patterns of the proper whole, a sense that can affect the unexpected events of personal life as well as those of collective action…….


Wendy James & David Mills (ed.) The Qualities of Time: Anthropological Approaches

Iggy Pop, The Passenger

How Doth the Little Crocodile

The Emotional Register Of Altered State’s

“Melodrama is often associated with intimate affairs, personal misfortune, and domestic affairs…. Yet as a political discourse, melodrama operates in different registers; the suffering of U.S subjects that it depicts appears to be caused by something outside the national body; an unjust injury wounds the entire nation, and this transforms melodrama to a more public, national, and state-centered register. The eradication of injustice in melodramatic political discourse is not about finding consolation in the domestic sphere, as it is in many films and literary melodramas; it is about an aggressive performance of strength in the national political sphere. The agency in melodramatic political discourse focuses in global and spectacular displays of power; its sphere of action is public and usually institutional because of the villainy it countermands. In melodramatic political discourse, the nation’s terrible injury becomes the foundational justification for violent and expansive state power.”


Elisabeth R. Anker, Orgies of Feeling: Melodrama and The Politics of Freedom

Breeze Borne: Behavioral Seeds

Once language exists in the interpersonal, cultural environment, the more general power and tendency of the human brain through imitation and related mechanisms to shape growth around recurring features of the environment in which it finds itself  allows the capability for language to develop in the absence of areas (1) that many thousands  of years ago provided  the functional characteristics that allowed human beings and human societies to first develop languages. This capability is subserved instead by more ordinary brain tissue. Moreover, as indicated, in the few known and tragic instances when children with physically intact brains were raised in near-total isolation, the children had little or no language ability. One must conclude that language is not a property of the human brain but rather of human society and culture. If all living people were rendered permanently speechless and illiterate.  their offspring and succeeding generations would be unable to speak despite having normal brains, and language that most distinctive characteristic, would be lost to the human species


Bruce E. Wexler, Brain and Culture: Neurobiology, Ideology, And Social Change


The passage is built on the observation that if the areas of the brain associated with language acquisition are destroyed in early childhood, most children are still capable of speech, reading and writing.

An old post that seems relevant in this moment.

It Worked

Tick Tock

Was hoping the last post would help work out if their was a pattern between the rather different subjects Ive been concentrating on. Dyslexic mind, I have no issue using very different subjects to piggy back of each other but sometimes they end up having a much closer relationship than appeared to be the case at the start. Just happy to go with the flow and see how things end up.

With the Gododdin and the barnacle goose its clearly time and the importance of being forgetful in regard to our memory of things that’s bubbling under the surface Modern notions of species are projected into the past with regard to the barnacle goose and the kind of thing it was is forgotten as it no longer has relevance. With the Gododdin its eradicated from collective Scottish memory as it contradicts our sense of what the past should be.

Horizon of Scottish history is popularly drawn much later where it fits much more easily with primordial blood and soil folk concepts of ethnicity. The 6th to 9th century core of the poem is also significantly altered, it has a seriously organic development in order to replicate in changing cultural waters

. I wonder if their is a tighter pattern between the three subjects that have been occupying my mind somewhere under the surface? Not that it matters, stimulates my interest in looking at time, memory and forgetting further and motivates doing some reading.

Both forms of forgetfulness attempt to make constructions and concepts of mind real with a past, present and future; both the notion of species or being Scottish are products of our minds but the desire to create fictive ties that give them a tangible solid form is a powerful one.

The tick tock role of historical legend acts as a substantive for timeless myths that have always been.

Legend maintains the concept of time out of mind, allowing myth to escape time and contradiction.

Two Things To Do In Edinburgh When You Are Bored

A list of Things To Do

Not been doing much reading of late, but a chance e-mail from someone using a small part of my research on barnacle geese  got me moving again.

(1) The essential Welshness of Castle Rock Edinburgh.

Waiting for delivery of of a collection of conference papers on the importance of Goddodin, an early poem set on the 6th century fort  on castle rock and its importance for the establishment of the notion of Welsh ethnicity in the later medieval period.

The poem has never become the ‘Scottish Beowulf’ and is largely unknown and unloved in Scotland due to the tangled nature of identity in 6th century Britain, where the movement from tribe to ethnic group is really just starting.

Northern Britain formed the historical horizon for a later Welsh Aristocracy and a fictive kinship with this past formed the basis of what it was to be Welsh.

(2) Biological Myth And The Reproduction of Kinds of things.

Some serious digging  to do on the barnacle goose. Barnacle goose is often presented historically as being a single species. Its not, various different species of water fowl were depending on local environment identified as a barnacle goose. Classification was based on biological myth, the notion that they were the same kind of thing because they reproduced in the same manner by spontaneous generation.

Barnacle goose like the idea of species is a somewhat fluid concept. As it could be eaten at lent and classified as a fish, local communities identified numerous species as a potential lent food source dependent on local environment and cultural factors.

An entirely abstract species concept that had developed over time and subject to local environmental variation due to cultural and ideological factors, using reproduction as the key element of the classification of kinds of things.

Poses some issues for the establishment of species definitions and the notion of biology in the late 17th century I suspect.

I have a third thing. Having to look at the emergence of neo- stoicism in the late Renaissance, not a subject I would choose out of choice and its driving me slightly insane, hence the need to revert to subjects I am more comfortable with.

Its important to understand a later very conservative thinker I am interest in so I have no choice in the matter.

Coming form an earlier period of history that’s something of a bastard mix using a lot of social science based subjects notable  anthropology and archeology, questions you want answered are different to the interests of later historians and for some reason Scottish history in this period has always bored me to death. Happy reading source material but find the secondary stuff takes some motivation.

Looking at the idea of barnacle geese and the essential Welshness of Edinburgh castle should keep me sane as I confront more later historians and their very strange interests and inclinations.

I suppose I have an overlap with the barnacle goose and Neo Stoic Renaissance belief as after doing the grunt work on the late Renaissance got to see how far these elite beliefs may be influencing the two fictive creatures I am interested in wider popular culture  the wild man and the later 17th century orangutang (again like the goose at this period its not a single species but a generic term for a range of ‘man like’ species).

The classification of unusual and memorable creatures draws in all cultural ranks into debate and argument. Means by which social differences can be displayed differences can be drawn or agreement and compromise can be made. Wondering about such things plays a role in how competitive social groups form wider identities and maintain social distinction.

Messy fluid subject, the ordering of the natural world is a seriously social processes and a point of exchange between elite and popular culture. Its in these spaces that wider human identities are given form and substance.