Dream of Oengus

The Dream, or Aislinge, is an old tale of how the Irish god of love himself finally falls in love with a woman he initially only knows through a dream. It's a lovely, gentle tale which exists as a contrast to all those lusty and bloodthirsty tales of battle and raunchy shenanigans.

When my brain is working again (it's been killed off by all the end-of-term marking and second marking), I'll expand this introductory written spiel with some thoughts on possible meanings behind the story - such as why the swan maiden's surname means aril (the fruit of the yew tree). In the meantime, pasted below is one of my poems about this story which was first published in my book Bard Song.

The Dream of Óengus Óg

Love is not pink, but bright red,
Aril bed, where lovers link
With chains of gold feather-light,
Mute white swan’s wings safe enfold.

Four are my bright winged kisses,
That Man’s mate misses, in spite
Of the kiss of her “Old Man” ~
How can he compare to This?

I am the heat of the heart,
That dare not part from the sweet
Recalled stroke of my pale wing,
Maids sing of how soul’s veil broke.

Yet this cob was also reigned,
Gift gained made my own heart throb.
Silent she swam in my night,
Such a sight made my life dam.

Aisling ate my flesh, my mind
Obsessed, blind to all but Fate.
Moon-falls flame entranced, taunted,
Sun-tides haunted by “no name”.

Spells could not call what words failed,
Song jailed in voiceless pen’s thrall.
My own song reflected back,
Three years wrack midst joyful throng.

When the dream was made feather,
Unlinked tether crossed the stream,
Yet no bride price could be struck,
Scant luck ~ till her Way I tried.

I swallowed poison in Caer,
Yet the fire-fruit gave me joy.
My soul’s plaintive cry she hushed,
Had I crushed her.... Can gods die?

The bitter seed passed on through,
Slow grew ~ its green veil grants need
Now, deathless testament tree
That all may see how We love.


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