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Mon, Nov. 19th, 2007, 07:00 pm
Priestess and Warrior

I heard this poem on the album "Wake the Dragon" by Môr Gwyddelig. I thought it was really pretty, but couldn't find lyrics anywhere. So, I trascribed my own. Here they are:

One summer night, on the Wessex road, two travelers were met.
The one, aswarm in thoughts. The other, struggling to forget.

Behold: a warrior's tale is ended, this tale is begun,
as one priestess finds true magic and the other finds her son.

For me, I galloped lightly, undelayed by any load.
Up ahead I saw a traveler's back a-plodding down the road.

His rusted armor gleamed in spots - was that a dagger's edge?
One leap, and my good horse could find the safety of the hedge.

He heard me not, but turned to count the miles that he had gained.
His weary gaze met mine, and then he turned his back again.

Emboldened by my robes, I cried, "Warrior, let me by!"
and not a word said he, yet drew aside as I came nigh.

An hour on, I'd forgotten him, and stopped to make up camp.
By nightfall, all the woodlands heard his tired horse's stamp.

Ere he could pass, I cried out, "Rider, rest here on your course!
Come share the fire, if not for you, then pity for your horse."

He stopped, and reeled - from hunger or exhaustion I know not -
but tried and failed to bring the weary horse back to a trot.

The mare won; with a sigh the battered traveler dropped to ground.
I eyed his tattered things and wrapped my linens close around.

Silent sat we both, my eyes on him, his on the flame.
My anger flared; he'd offered neither greeting, thanks, nor name.

"Your armor smells of blood," I said, "it stains the forest floor."
His eyes raised. "You're a priestess," he replied, and said no more.

I cast a hand of bark shards to the flames, to make them spark.
The scent of apple-blossoms filled the air and lit the dark.

Then magic crackled 'round my robes as spells of warding spoke.
I saw it now - a greater danger in the warrior's cloak.

His eyes were blue like mine, his hair as gold as new-cut flax,
but this man was no Celtic lord; he bore a straight blade Sax.

"Saxon man!" I said aloud, and startled him from rest.
"This is no road for you; what prize awaits you in the west?"

"None that I've earned," he snapped, then he would not meet my eyes.
He swallowed hard, and said "Nor none that my return would prize."

I looked away, and in the darkness wrestled my unrest.
The silence grew. The warrior clutched a sadness in his chest.

"Tell me your tale?" I asked him then - how his shoulders shook.
A stranger's touch, a softly spoken word, was all it took.

"My father is a Saxon chief - or was," the warrior told.
"He took my from my village, made me iron-strong and bold."

"I grew to manhood fighting, first with fists and then with blade.
My father ached with pride to the the man that he had made."

"Then the border wars called all. Long years we fought and gave our best,
'til the day the howling Scotsmen fought like wolverines possessed."

"The stench of blood and iron, their cries of triumph fill my head.
My brothers all are gone and I alone survive the dead."

"And look at me - a Saxon man as surely as I live -
and yet, a Celt by blood, and that no family could forgive."

"I wish that I'd been butchered with my father on the field,
for none at home will welcome me, except upon my shield."

The flood of words had ended, left his eyes too tired to weep.
With silent art I touched his dreams and eased his mind in sleep.

The twittering night drew close - I cast my gaze upon the moon.
By morning, I had slept, but sunlight woke us both too soon.

We packed and rode in silence, but I dwelled within my thoughts -
of battle-rage, and prejudice, and the blood we both had wrought.

I looked. He seemed more peaceful now, our horses keeping stride,
but still his eyes betrayed a question he held back from pride.

The next breeze brought the scent of apple-blossoms, and I knew.
"In the vale beyond this ridge," I said, "your mother waits for you."

His startled glance knew hope, and proved my intuition right.
He cried the mare to speed and raced to greet the coming night

By evening we had claimed the ridge and looked out out on a vale
as misty-green by twilight as in memory and tale.

A mounted host approached, all leather-clad, no rank nor line,
with one rider in linen robes as heather-blue as mine.

Maeve of elder-light drew close, her hood around her face.
The warrior fell down to the earth and cried aloud for grace.

Maeve alit, from awesome height she gazed down through the years,
drew back her hood and showed her face as wet as his with tears

And great Maeve bent down and touched the man upon the head.
"Rise up my son," said she, "and dwell no more among the dead."

A cheer rang out as all around us welcomed the man home.
His kinsman circled round and bade him stay and never roam.

Then gazed Maeve of elder-light on me, of everyone.
At last, she spoke: "Thank you," she said, "for bringing home my son."

One summer night on the Wessex road, two travelers were met.
The one, aswarm in thoughts. The other, struggling to forget.

Behold: a warrior's tale is ended, another tale begun,
as one priestess finds true magic, and the other finds her son.

Tue, Nov. 20th, 2007 07:34 am (UTC)

Explain to me the presence of Maeve here.

What does the song itself sound like?

Tue, Nov. 20th, 2007 08:01 am (UTC)

Hard for me to do, I'm not really knowledgeable on the symbolism of Maeve in Celtic myth or that mythology at all really. Either she's just used to be a "hey, reach out to a stranger and you'll get friends in high places" sort of moral, or possibly the warrior actually didn't survive the battle, but was a lost spirit, and was wandering when the priestess found him and by listening to his tale, allowed him to reconcile himself with his identity and find rest - Maeve and her band of riders taking him home. Furthermore, it may not necessarily be (though it probably is) The Maeve. I can't find any references to her being called "Maeve of elder-light" anywhere, so this may just be some particularly high-up priestess who happens to have the name. Which seems unlikely, but *shrug*.

I'm honestly not exactly sure on the background of the warrior - he says his father is a Saxon chief who took him from his village and raised him as a Saxon warrior. But he says he's a Celt by blood - is that blood just his mother's, or is the man he calls his father just a raider who kidnapped him as a child? Not sure, and that muddles any interpretation I could give. I kindof lean towards the the latter interpretation, where he's taken from his original family, and grows up among his "father" and a bunch of other boys, his "brothers", who are all being trained to fight. Since he's culturally Saxon, he feels like he can't return to a Celtic family, especially considering that all he's ever done is fight. He's especially uncomfortable around the Celtic priestess, possibly he sees her as the symbolic of his estranged mother and Celtic heritage both. The priestess hears out his worries and soothe him, thus making him able to bring himself to return to his mother. At which point either of the interpretations of Maeve could still work, really, but I like the one where the warrior, Maeve, and her band are all otherworldly in some respect, and that when the priestess says she found "true magic", she means actually meeting a goddess, her son, and her entourage in a magical vale, not that "true magic" is like, a mother's love or something.

Oh, and it's not sung, it's recited, with some harpery in the background to keep tempo and such.

Tue, Nov. 20th, 2007 08:11 am (UTC)

If you want a better idea of the sound, I'm pretty certain you can get music samples from amazon and such.

Thu, Nov. 22nd, 2007 04:18 am (UTC)

Judging by the way they talk about the warrior, my guess is that he is dieing, if not already dead. By the title given, I would identify Maeve as either a high-ranking fey figure or demigoddess. This is supported by the descriptions of her as well as her mystic powers. She may be associated with the local clergy (evidenced by the blue she wears), but the host she rides with evokes images of the Wild Hunt.

I'd imagine that the warrior feels uncomfortable around the speaker because: 1) she's a Celt 2) she's a priestess with (assumed) magic powers 3) as a priestess, she heralds the injured warrior's death and 4) he's dieing (a slow death, admittedly) in a woman's arms. Her very presence portends his death, so I'd imagine he's be uncomfortable.

Oh, and "Saxonman" is one of the cofounders of the Council of Justice, along with Fledermoussman. Ask the raven about it.