Poïesis

by David Cravens

 

…………In memory of Joseph Campbell and James Dickey

 

…………………..look upon me as the bastard daughter
………………………………..of music and prose
……………………..suspended in a jar of poppy-brine1
……………………………..resting in a dark recess
……………………………..of the Atlanta museum
………………………………..that is your child2

 

………………………..my name is Leanhaun Sidhe3
………………………..of the fifth age of the world4

 

………………………………I too was an artisan
…………………overwhelmed and raped by the sons of Míl5
…………………………and dwindled by your Christ6

 

……………………………………I wed thee
…………………………….art and unhappiness7

 

………………you paint as a means to make life bearable?8
………………eighteen whiskeys and you believe it’s a record?9
…………………oh you whom the world could not break
………………………………nor the years tame10
……………….I will extinguish your hard gem-like flame11
…………………with the gift of a rose-colored pearl12
..that you may never know the sweet taste of Fomorian blood13

 

…………………………..peer into my dusty jar
………………………………..son of Galamh14
……………and where you thought to find an abomination

 

……………………………you shall find a god15

 

 

*previously published in Fat City Review and Liturgical Credo

 

……………….Poïesis citations & amplification notes

 

1. In Irish mythology Lug of the Long Arms, god of the sun, was a poet and one of the

greatest of the Túatha dé Danann warriors. His sword, the sword of Lug (one of the

Túatha dé Dananns’ four talismans), brought certain victory to whoever brandished it.

The sword longed always for the taste of blood and could never quite appease its hunger.

So when not in use, Lug kept the sword in a container of juice made from pulverized

poppy leaves. This narcotic put the sword temporarily at peace, as it does the mind.

2. refers to James Dickey’s “The Sheep Child”

3. In Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, the Anglo-Irish poet William Butler Yeats says the

Leanhaun Sidhe (faery mistress) seeks the love of mortals, but if they consent to her, they

waste away. She is the Gaelic muse, for she gives inspiration to those she persecutes. The

Gaelic poets die young, for she is restless and will not allow them to remain long on

earth.

4. The Túatha dé Danann were the divine race that came from the islands of northern

Greece, and inhabited Ireland during the fifth age of the world (the world being Ireland).

They were divided into gods and non-gods. The non-gods were farmers and laborers. The

gods were artisans, artists, and poets. They defeated the Fir Bolgs (the fourth race in

Ireland), and put an end to the giant Fomorians, but they were defeated by the Milesians

(the ancestors of the Celts) on the 1st of May. In time they came to be worshiped by the

Milesians as gods.

5. Míl Espáine is the ancestor of the final inhabitants of Ireland, the ‘Sons of Míl’ or

Milesians, who defeated the Túatha dé Danann. Amergin, the great Milesian poet, greeted

Eriu, the Túatha dé Danann goddess, when the Milesians stepped ashore on what is now

Ireland, and he promised her that the island would forever bear her name.

6. Brian Froud says in his book Faeries that following their defeat by the Milesians, those

of the Túatha dé Danann who decided to stay in Ireland made their homes under the

hollow hills (raths) where they became the Daoine Sidhe (faery people). The Túatha dé

Danann were originally huge, but in the course of time, and with the encroachment of

Christianity, as they diminished in importance, they correspondingly dwindled in size.3

7. The link between right hemisphere creativity and unhappiness has a long history of

documentation, whether it refer to the painter, poet, sculptor, or novelist. In Wisdom of

Life Aristotle says that men distinguished in poetry and art all appear to be of a

melancholy temperament. James Dickey called alcoholism, mania, suicide, and

depression the occupational hazards of poetry. Poets, he said, almost without exception,

are cast into the most abject despair over things that wouldn’t bother an ordinary person

at all.

8. refers to Vincent Van Gogh’s suicide note

9. These were the reputed last words of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas after being taken

to Bellevue Hospital during an American reading tour.

10. refers to Sara Teasdale’s epitaph of poet Vachel Lindsay who committed suicide in

1931 – Teasdale, a fellow poet, killed herself just over a year later.

11. see Walter Pater ‘Conclusion’ The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry 1888

12. The Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde says in The Picture of Dorian Gray that

Marco Polo is said to have seen the natives of Zipangu put rose-colored pearls into the

mouths of their dead.

13. Whatever race of gods rule Ireland, the force of darkness, in the shape of the

Fomorians, opposes it. The Fomorians represent the gods worshipped by the native

Mediterranean peoples. Lug of the Long Arms put a final end to the Fomorian threat

during the fifth age of the world.

14. Míl Espáine’s given name was Galamh. His eight sons were among those who

invaded Ireland and defeated the Túatha dé Danann, ending the fifth age of the world,

and beginning the sixth.

15. Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton. Princeton University

Press. 1949: 25

Contributor’s Notes: David R. Cravens received his undergraduate degree in philosophy at the University of Missouri and his master’s degree in English literature from Southeast Missouri State University. He was the recipient of the 2008 Saint Petersburg Review Prize in Poetry, the 2011 Bedford Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for Ohio State University’s The Journal William Allen Creative Nonfiction Contest. His work has also appeared in Ontologica: A Journal of Art and Thought, EarthSpeak Magazine, The Houston Literary Review, Albatross Poetry Journal, The Monarch Review, The Interpreter’s House, Willows Wept Review, The New Writer Magazine, Poetic Diversity, Red River Review, and is forthcoming in War, Literature & the Arts. He teaches composition and literature at Mineral Area College.