Thoughts of Myrddin Emrys
by Jussi Melartin
part 1 of 2
In homage to John Matthews’ The Song of Arthur.
The shape put upon us
Perhaps enough joy has he
For he had once been King, this
The life willed became his fate,
I think of Myrddin Emrys now and
I believe Myrddin yearned with all his
The Woman, she turns towards
“Again and again the great bard [Taliesin] speaks of the Wood, and from his own words and those of the little monk who was the first collector of these tales, I have learned that it was far more than a simple stretch of trees of which he spoke. Even in the seclusion of Ynys Witrin I have heard whispers of Broceliande, the forest that once covered most of Britain. Long ago it was destroyed, or simply faded from the knowledge of humankind, yet men still speak of it in whispers and make the sign of the horns against ill luck when they do so. I must confess that I do not truly understand these matters, yet I believe the when he speaks of the Wood, the bard speaks not of any place but a state of being, such as the Blessed Saints themselves aspire to.”
— John Matthews, The Song of Arthur
These ancient forms still reach from beyond the scope of words to touch us, form us and our acts into destined patterns we may but dimly be aware of. The Wood is long gone, yet even now men and women are called, and follow the various pathways into the mysterious light of this vast Forest. Always enchanted, the experience may be of the Waste Land, or of a teeming fecundity with greenery and flowing water, or both, or of something else entirely. Aye, we still meet at that clearing the challenge of a foreign knight, the Queen yet walks in the glades, and the Stag appears in the distance, drawing us further into a wilderness.
Perhaps this calls back to a time before tales were told, when words themselves were barely formed and we wandered across plains and caves, following the herds or the water, when the Land spoke directly, in Her own manner, and we listened, unlike now when our own prattle drowns out Her voice. Aye, the patterns of us were then set, ones we fall into as our natural heritage. A clan troops across field to forest and river, falling into familiar pattern: the leader and his lieutenants, the band with women and children busy with their burdens, squawking and joking amongst themselves, and there — there! — you may see one slightly apart, to the rear and the right of the troop, eyes alert to changes and motions, ready to sound warning or direct attention of the others. This one, removed as he is to perform his duty, is not the leader, who must lead with the hearts of his clan, nor is he the wise old woman who is connected through kinship and birth-giving to all the band. No, his is the knowing, the borders of the clan, not fully in yet not fully out.
To the Forest then, we of the chattering mouths, each on our quest, or on another’s, until we come face upon such deep mystery, of sorrow and joy, that even our tongues become stilled, if only for a moment.
Copyright © 2006 by Jussi Melartin