Catching Fire

I desire the wood of allabair and argatbran, between fire and wall

I desire the three lean boars.

May a phantom come to meet me with the grain and milk of whoever it is on whom I cast it.

If this is destined for me, let it be grain and milk that I see.

If it is not destined for me, let it be wolves stags and wandering on the mountian and young warriors that I see.


This verse is getting a bit like Dr Who’s tardis at the moment. Filling with a range of eclectic junk I have picked up in my travels across time and space. Moving from ancient legal poetry of the classical world, late 17th century private letters to A.A Milnes, Bad Sir Brain Botony.

Its any number of things at the moment. I have time on my hands.

Not giving it a huge amount of serious thought just playing with it for five to ten minutes each week.

Chart its history so far for my own benefit and so I can keep a record of what I have been entagling it with.

It started as a personal joke (from Horraces satyrs)that does not translate outside of my own head. I noticed that within it you can glean quite alot of the basic economic and social structure of Early Ireland.

That makes it ‘mutum et turpe pecus’, dumb and disgraced by sin. This is how Horrace describes human law evolving. Lord Monboddo was rather found of saying that this line represented the whole of human history as if in minature.

At first it was noting Lord Monboddo’s statement on minature worlds (which the poem seems to be rather than Horraces poetic vision on the orgin of law that I caught in my mind. But the basic move, encounter with something alien that provokes discussion and judgement seems to be a basic move of the Irish poem as well.

Monboddos statement does not have to be taken to seriously but the notion that such sites are ripe and productive locations that can contain any number of things seems to be worth conjuring with.

My next move was to attempt to work out what the start of the poem is structured to do.

First thing I got by using contemporary comparison was absorbtion. I thought of the introduction to other early Irish poems one states that it desires to hold a great ale feast for Jesus. Another states the desire of the composer to give birth to Jesus.

The family setting of the biblical story was translated by the Irish into their own social terms, but the poems go further and want to directly experiance holding a feast with Jesus present or experiancing the pain and joy of his birth directly.

These are ‘objects of curious weight’ unobtanable yet directly open to emtional understanding and lived experiance.

Things of wonder.

I get my first idea of to what the opening may be.


Being well veresed in such things I of course realize that first impressions and ambitions my have to be modified with more realistic expectations.  I may have to alter my intial first impression.

Run with that thought further. It seems to also be contianed within the poem.

The introduction presents an individual in an absorbed state of wonder.

Is that state modified over- time?

Stuck for the moment, poems catching fire and disappearing in a puff of smoke.


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