“Lament of the Old Woman”

feb-f2

by Michael Kaluta

 

(Adapted by John Halstead from “Lament of the Old Woman of Beare”, 10th c. CE, Ireland)

Ebb tide has come to me as the sea.
The sea crawls from the shore, leaving weeds like a corpse’s hair.
The sea slouches away from me, leaving me with salt on my lips.

Time was the sea brought kings as slaves to me. 
Now the sea brings only images of the drifting dead.
Women love only riches now. 
But when we lived, we loved men, 
young men whose horses galloped in the open plain, 
beating lighting from the ground.  

I loved such men.
I feasted by the light of many bright candles.  
Now I pray in the darkness of the oratory.
I drank my fill of wine and mead with kings, 
their eyes lingering on my hair.  

Now I drink the bitter dregs with shriveled hags and my hair is gray.
My skin, where glorious kings once pressed their lips, is now tight and thin.
My arms that once practiced the pleasant craft, 
caressing the bodies of comely youths, are now bony and thin.
Then I wore garments of every hue and a cloak of green.  
Now the veil that covers my hair is black and mean.

The wine thrilled me to my fingertips.  
And I stretched at the side of him who would take me briefly for his bride.  
The storms have long since reached the stone chair of the kings.  
Their tombs are old and crumbling.
The maidens rejoice when May Day comes to them.  

But I have spent the summer of my youth.  
I hold no sweet converse.  
No gelded rams are killed for my wedding feast.

What the flood-tide brings, the ebb-tide takes away.
I have known the flood and I have known the ebb.
The sun does not touch me.  
In me I feel the cold.  
But still a seed burns there.
The time is at hand that shall renew me.

Advertisements

About John Halstead

John is an climate activist and one of the co-founders of 350 Indiana-Calumet, part of 350.org, which is dedicated to building a global grassroots movement to raise awareness about human-driven climate change, to confront climate change denial, and to cut emissions of carbon dioxide in order to slow the rate of global warming. John has written for numerous online platforms, including The Huffington Post, Patheos, GodsandRadicals.org, Witches & Pagans, and GodisChange.org. John is an Editor-at-Large at HumanisticPaganism.com, a community blog for Naturalistic Pagans. He is also a contributor there and writes a regular column called “The Naturalistic Pagan Toolbox”. John edited and contributed to the anthology, "Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans" (2016), which gathered the writings of 40 atheistic, humanistic, and naturalistic Pagans, pantheists, animists, Gaians, and other non-theistic Pagans from around the English-speaking world. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment,” which can be found at ecopagan.com. The Statement has now collected over 9,000 signatures from over 80 countries, has been translated into 16 languages. It represents the most successful effort to date to harmonize the diverse voices of the Pagan community in defense of the Earth and the web of life. Since 2011, John has been writing about his often ambivalent relationship with Paganism, Unitarianism, and life, at AllergicPagan.com. John is also a Shaper of the fledgling Earthseed community, which is described at GodisChange.org. View all posts by John Halstead

One response to ““Lament of the Old Woman”

Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: