Friday, December 27, 2019

Call of the Crow



Call of the Crow


The crow called,
What world is coming?
A world with no ease in the seeing

where the last battle
finds no ending, where gold eats up valor
where no sending of ravens
can swallow the feast.

The crow called,
what world do I see
where summer kills flowers
where kine have no milk
and die eating dust,

where women
gamble their worth,
and old men
bring false judgment;

where each child
is a reaver, each man
a betrayer,
blinding his own eyes;
 
where the sea can feed no one
not even a gull,
where poison is flowing
deep in the well.

The crow called,
I shall, I shall
see it all,
but no more
any world that is dear to me.


~April 2015





Poem 27 for April--unlinked, and a total self-indulgence.
Reposted and lightly re-edited today, December 27, 2019 for Sherry's last prompt
at 
The Imaginary Garden with Real Toads





Process notes: This poem is drawn directly from a 9th century(?) prophecy(below) I happened on that reminded me very strongly of the description of the final days before the Ragnarök in Völuspá. Bleak as these prophecies are, I also see them as vital warnings, informing us so perhaps their dire ends can somehow be averted, foretelling as they do elements of a personal disintegration which leads to the more universal one.

This prophecy is Celtic, and spoken by the goddess Babd, the war goddess aspect of The Morrigan, who often takes the form of a crow:



I  shall not see a world that will be dear to me.
Summer without flowers,
Kine will be without milk,
Women without modesty,
Men without valour,
Captures without a king.

... ... ...

Woods without mast,
Sea without produce,

... ... ...

Wrong judgments of old men,
False precedents of brethren,
Every man a betrayer,
Every boy a reaver.
Son will enter his father's bed,
Father will enter his son's bed,
Everyone will be his brother's brother-in-law.

... ... ...

An evil time!
Son will deceive his father,

Daughter will deceive her mother.

prophecy of the goddess Badb,  from "The Second Battle of Mag Tuired"

~wikipedia








Image: Crow in flight at Isfahan, Iran, 2012, shared under a creative commons license
via wikimedia commons     Manipulated.

17 comments:

  1. Wow, Joy, this is powerful to read, and so visceral, especially when I read further and learn of the prophecy. I love how you wove the influences into your poem, and was especially moved by the sixth stanza, where the sea is feeding no one. Amazing that these things were prophesied so long ago, and so accurately. Thanks for linking to my prompt, Joy. It is LOVELY to be reading you again and I hope to do so through the year ahead as we see which way this old world will turn.

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    1. Thank you Sherry. It's been such a pleasure working with you, and knowing you all these years. Thank you for all your kindness and support.

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  2. here each child
    is a reaver, each man
    a betrayer,
    blinding his own eyes

    This part, both in your poem and the original prophecy, gives me chills.. We need trustworthy men/women raising proactive children.. the alternative is too horrific to contemplate.

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    1. Thank you, Kerry. Yes, I believe the most cogent part of these prophecies concerns the moral breakdown of individuals and of the larger society they create/inhabit--ie, that they give us a road map on the consequences of being a bad actor, not just to us, but to everything we touch. The only way past this aggregate of moral flaws is as you say, to have a clear-eyed ethic, and to pass it to each new generation, so that all of us who understand these things can begin to turn things around.Thanks so much for reading.

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  3. Gracious this is so sad, deep in the gut sad. May the climate and holocaust deniers join with the elected liars and all tumble down into an endless pit.

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  4. Brilliant Joy. All the evilgelicals be damned. It's the end of the world as we know it....

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  5. Reading this, I thought, 'Bleak, but so beautifully expressed' and felt it had a sense of the ancient and prophetic even whilst being right up to the minute ... then I read your notes, and can only say you succeeded perfectly. The sadness in your last line is so deep, and the whole last verse like a bell tolling. Bells are also for warning; may these late and terrible warnings be in time!

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  6. I think many find it preferable when prophecy and dystopian reality were the venue of Hollywood. Comes the day, soon, too soon or not soon enough, when prophecies fulfill that for which they were intended.

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  7. This poem is like a lit beacon fire. I love it.

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  8. 'Tis said Xtianity came as a solvent for blood-ruined paganism, balm of Heaven for a hellish wold ... If the verses are 9th century, they have a long memory, a good millennium or so to prove that Xtian solutions were just a new addlement of the old snarky gules. Translated and re-envisaged here in your hand, it's a superb vantage from the ramparts for the coming flood. This eye sees it all -- like the Morrigan -- but the last 2 lines add a gloss left out of the original (probably coz it lent a hallow ring to the vesper bell). It tinctures the whole poem in a savage grief. Fine contribution to the challenge and it makes me wonder if ghosts of the vatic like us keep singing because, well.

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    1. Yes, both this prophecy and the ones in Voluspa seem very fresh, don't they? I'm not sure whether this reflects more our current world, or the cold light of realism extrapolated forward on a world that has always been, or its potential, anyway--I believe there are also Native American prophecies that talk about this time of natural upheaval and disintegration as well. Of course, we have ignored them all, and continue to ignore the even colder facts that science provides, because we as a species have abandoned all our gods, and sweet reason itself, and surrendered to Moloch in every important way...anyway, shall those of us who have a different sight keep warning, keep singing, keep fighting? Yes, because, well. You know. Thanks B.

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  9. A powerful poem! I adore corvids and have always thought of them as wise birds. I hate to think of a world in which ‘where no sending of ravens / can swallow the feast’, and
    ‘where the sea can feed no one
    not even a gull,
    where poison is flowing
    deep in the well’.

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  10. We are sadly so close to this prophecy coming true: summers killing flowers (true already) and a sea that feeds no one. Crows are so smart. Perhaps we should listen to the Song Of The Crow (have you read the novel by that name?). Writers and poets unite!

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  11. There it is: gold eats up valor

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  12. One wonders, when the crows feast on the remnants of the human strain, will they be happy?

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  13. Crows are smart. They know the world has turned into carrion so bitter to swallow. Still, I hope they can fly away... and find something better to eat.

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"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats