Elen’s Song

(from The Dream of Macsen Wledig)

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image by Cheska Potter

Bridge Maker, hear my song.
Fly to me along the Dream-Paths.

Air – hot – wet. The man sucks in dampness, lungs screaming.
The hart springs away again, defying gravity.
‘Aagh!’ He cries and stumbles in pursuit
Upwards, always upwards, and his men follow lamely.

Air – hot – wet. The waterfall laughs, tumbling over his head.
Through the rainbow the man visions the hart
Standing now upon the rock, waiting.
Upwards, always upwards, and his men lag behind.

Air – hot – wet. The great tree stands alone in the cleft
Like a dragon’s claw tearing through the rocks.
The hart is gone, laughing, done his job.
The man tumbles to the floor
Curls in leaf-mould, a hedgehog sleeping.

His men come, raise his shield above their sleeping king
Perched on spear-points, a drunken cromlech.
Asclepios’ temple for Sovereignty’s dreams.

Faster now and faster he flies,
Skimming the tops of mountains, breathing cloud-breath,
Swooping down green valleys limned with oak and pine.
Bears call him from within the groves.
Salmon leap beneath him from the silver rivers.
Wolves howl to him from icy tops.
Hare points the moon-path before him.
He follows.

Sun rims the world in light.

A grove of spear points transform before his eyes
Become a ship, masts reaching for the skies.
It lies
Upon the silvery water.

Standing on firm ground the man finds his feet.
The ivory bridge shimmers in the sun,
A prism to the light.
It beckons, he crosses to the waiting ship
Upon a solid rainbow.

His feet touch and the ship beneath him shivers.
Wind breathes into the sails, the waves,
Pushing him outwards into the empty sea.
The man watches, waiting.

Blue and silver mountains rise before him.
The ship climbs gamely, stands a moment at the crest,
Rushes downwards into the green-cleft water.
A cloud, a dragon’s claw scratches the sea-beast’s hide.

Days, moments, aeons and a shadow shows itself at the edge of the world.
Closer now and closer, the shadow darkens,
Takes on form, shows itself a shining monster whiteness.
A mountain rises, shakes his shaggy head above the sea.

Westering sun dazzles against the brightness.
Peering with darkened vision through the light
The man sees towers reaching upwards,
Sunlight points the pinnacles on castle roof.

Sliding gracefully beside the quay the ship stops, rocking gently.
A white bridge calls him out from off the ship,
He comes to Land on black earth.
The red carpet leads him forward.

Oak doors part before him.
In the darkness of the hall gold glimmers.
Two boys play Gwyddbwyll,
The game of the Land,
Golden pieces passing hand to hand.

And further in the old man sits alone.
Gold before him tools, in his hand,
Carving men to walk the Land.

And deeper still She sits on golden throne
The Lady of the Land sits all alone,
Waiting, weaving, watching, pulling threads.
Her fish is landed, Salmon coming home.

He walks into her outstretched, open arms,
Receives three kisses, wishes, wonders,
Lifts his eyes to heaven and sees the Earth.

‘You will go home now, Macsen, love,’ she says.
‘Send out your men, you will not find me,
Without you go back home.
Home is the place of your dreaming, Macsen,
Remember well.

A year and a day will come and go.
And when due time has passed why then,
You’ll find me. Come again. Come home.’

Light fractured, split. The world fell in upon him.
Rushing to their master, his men drag him out from under,
Shield fallen, spears tumbled all amok,
They pull him from the broken cromlech,
Living still.

‘I had a dream!’ he cried.
Wise men came,
He followed their good words
And nothing found, nothing gained.
One day he went back to the place of dragon’s claw.
Standing where the gods had stamped their mark
The vision came. He saw the way.

Following her threads, he comes home,
Stands before her on the bottom step,
Then climbing,
He walks into her outstretched, open arms.
She gifts him kisses three.

The old man leads the way up to the bed.
‘Take her well’ he said.

With rising sun she asks him,
‘Give to me, the cowyll, morning gift.
Land for Eudaf, father, and for me
Three towers, castles, strongholds would I see.
One here at Caer Seint for the hearth and home,
One at Caerleon for the lion son.
And one for he who brings the king to come,
At Myrddin’s mountain build me tower strong.

He built the towers strong to hold the Land.
She wove the ways between them, spinning song
And dream, making ways, weaving threads
Through all the Land.
Pathways falling from her gentle hand.

A hundred times the moon shone down on them
And then the call came.
‘Another has thy throne and holds thy land’ they told him,

‘My brothers have the means’ she told him.
‘Go with them and lead the Silver Hosts.
So will you find god.’

He saw her eyes bright for his future.
She watched him go with tears inside her heart.

‘Fare thee well, King of the Great Year,’
She sang him through the wind
That took his sails, and him, away from her.

A strange coming he had of it. Victory and death.
The lands came to his hand and then,
Coming to the eagle’s place, another stood.
The king, the gift of god, stood in his way,
Moved not. And Macsen fell.

The Lady of the Land, hears his call,
Sees the winged horse, his spirit,
Rise up out his neck
Beside the blood which spurts.
Sees his dark head roll in the dust.

Come Bridge Maker, hear my song! ’ she calls him home.
Fly to me along the Dream-Paths.

And he flies to her
Along the dream-paths, over land and sea.
No longer needing ship for now, before him,
Owl flies silent, cupping air.
He follows.

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