Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Cambion's Tale

The Cambion's Tale

The north wind is in the wildwood
tonight, calling the last 
specklings of summer’s regret
from the moondripping trees,
fragmented friable tongues of 
henna and ochre lost to a dusty haze
that blots future and past, dead voices
rustling the song that calls me to you
my hell born babe, heart’s delight
soul’s inquistor.

Changeling and woodwose
furred with frosted moss and mist
horned with bone, poised always 
to run; you regard me blinkless,
hermetic as a wild thing, gaze of
opals burning through the veil where
I pretend to be protected invisible
as Niniane, everlost instead
fate-tangled and resistless to 
the beckon of that blue unicorn eye.

So I come out of the night
for your lichen'd kiss, rain
cold, full of the taste of rust
yet sweeter than any vintage
pressed from the sun's full flaunt. We're
as fallen as Rome remembered, love,
all my smooth green weight leaning
on the colonnade of whispers
you unbury from the
heart’s shallow grave.

My breath is gone again.
You’ve whistled for it; obedient
hound of my hollowed lungs it lopes,
leashed in your  brimstone binding
tighter than the chest that
knows the next gasp is last.
The night wind blows hellfire
around us where the idol burns,
fading sandalwood smoke
bolted with blood, spiced with loss.

O there’s nothing wrong with us
that reincarnation won’t cure.

October 2011

Re-posted for Fireblossom Friday at   real toads

cambion: According to the Malleus Maleficarum, the offspring of a human male and a succubus, or a human female and an incubus. Caliban and Merlin are both assigned this dubious distinction.
woodwose, or wodewose: " (also wildman or wild man of the woods...)is a mythical figure that appears in the artwork and literature of medieval Europe, comparable to the satyr or faun type in classical mythology..."~wikipedia

*The last two lines are extrapolated from an old saying passed around in the 60's.

Image: Tamara and the Demon, by Mikhail Vrubel, watercolor, 1891
Public Domain, via


  1. I'm knocked down by this. My chair and I have hit the floor.

    I had never heard of a cambion, and I do know a thing about Succubi and incubi, but I guess I never got invited home to meet the family. Anyway, the feel of this is blistering and irresistible. Every line is excellently crafted, but the stanza that begins "So I come out of the night" is one of your best, evah.

    Do not go gently into that good night, Witch. As if you would. When you're writing, you do things oh so well, but almost never gently. This sears.

  2. Groaning with pleasure at the first line . . . but I must go on.

    moondripping trees . . . soul’s inquisitor . . . blinkless . . . taste of rust . . . colonnade of whispers . . .

    Oh, he whistled and took your breath (!).

    I agree it is a crackling write, Hedge. This season of hallows does bring out your best. If your poems are your cambions, then the union of you and your incubus is a blessed on, even if it’s accursed!

    Good rest and dreams on your pillow tonight, and more poems for the season please.

  3. Joy,
    There seemed a likeness of the witches and sorcerers sort of. I like the last 2 lines. Seemed the savior for whatever comes 'that's nothing that reincarnation cannot cure' A reassurance it is!
    Excellent write!


  4. The confluence of mystery and history is along the thinnest of veils, impenetrable except when the wand of imagination is waved, or the year's wheel turns to All Hallows, when dead and living share the same night. This poem goes there both ways, finding in the res of myth (Celtic and Nordic combined, old and cold, Odin's sight crossed by the ancient cycle of otherwordly Celtic births). A cathedrally mythic setting for this song, pitch-perfect, which, I think, allows the hardest truths of history to dissemble into the cauldron of regeneration. (You've carved this out of antler and bone and mandrake.) Arionhod was a virgin who gave birth to twin sons when she unawares stepped over a magic wand (surely belonging to a Green Man or his hairy ilk) -- one son became the magician Gwydion Bach (she hid the desecration in a chest), the other raced for the sea and became Dylan Eil Ton, whom, I believe, is the fish-rider of my deep paternal ancestry. Their reincarnations allow the tale its tail through the lives: Our history is a reiteration, our mysteries remain intact for later reincarnation (and evocation). Arionhod's deflowering and magic conception was a desecration of the Goddess, yet it also spawned the magic still potent in these verses. Why else sing, if not to fling the shatter back on the wave in offering, holes and whole alike? Fine, fine work, H. The gauntlet has surely been laid down. (I hope others will join in and post their own boneyard blues ... Brendan

  5. Superb - and delightful the upsurge of optimism in the last two lines. I love it.

  6. No there is nothing wrong with some seasonal conjugal visits, yet why is it that the best ones last the shortest and the bitterest likely go ever on simply hiding for a time until they can blast out again with evil intent?

    Maybe on the next round we will all come back as summer.

  7. love all the textures to this...some great descriptors as usual...reincarnation frees us up doesnt it as long as i dont come back a dung beetle...i like WMs idea but if i came back it would be as fall...i love the chill whispers and the crunch of bones beneath my feet...

  8. I was out late on that glorious Hunter's moon a couple nights ago and felt a strange pull and terror (its blood light offering nowhere to hide). The medieval tone here is magnificent, the language sumptuous and seductive. The incantation of the Lady of the Lake as talisman is affecting. Your poem resonated deeply within me seeing the eventuality that all my breath will be stolen away. The veil is thin, the longing seeps, and the beautiful, cunning, persuasive demon child terrifies.

  9. Thanks for reading, all--this poem really was a hellborn babe, keeping me up for hours in revisionist labours.

    @FB: I thought that stanza would appeal to your inner witch.

    @Ruth: Yes, the blessing and the curse are like the snake that swallows its tail, each part of one entity. Glad this got you in the Halloween spirit, my friend.

    @twm: thank you for a most insightful comment--and yes, that's all too often the way it is. But it would all be worth it if we could come back as summer, especially a perfect summer night.

    @B: Thanks for the insight, and the appreciation of all the elements here, especially the duality. It's a fine line between the saved and the damned, since both inhabit the same life, between the one self and the other, and I wanted it to be murky, wanted the reader to wonder who is the singer of the cambion's tale, and who/what is the cambion. And of course, one should know *never* to step over a strange mangod's wand in the woods--but fate is hard to step around sometimes. Thanks so much for all the mythic backstory which lives in our cells if we care to inspect them with the inner microscope.

  10. Anna we were posting simultaneously--thank you for stopping by, clutching all your protective talismans. Yes, the demon child is here for real, but also the victory that comes with surrender, and the courage that comes from the importance of the battle. That moon is indeed a powerful orb, within and without. Thanks so much for reading and leaving your footprints here for me to follow.

  11. There is No Joy in Friday Funland.
    Run out of town by The Muted Muse.
    C'est Dommage.....G

    (But if that Bastard leaves...I'll be waiting)

  12. OKay, I can't live with the guilt, Galen. I made a supreme effort and dug something up. I will not be making the rounds till tomorrow though, slave driver.

  13. Hehehehehe...

    Works every time...You Rock Hedge....G

  14. This really is bewitched--beautiful spell-like language, imagery, romance. Charmed.

  15. Oh, Hedge. This is breathtaking, magical, make me bald splendid! Thank you for linking this up. I missed it the first time.

  16. I always love your poems which explore the arcane corners of the human psyche. There is beauty within the weave of this "forbidden" kind of love:

    So I come out of the night
    for your lichen'd kiss, rain
    cold, full of the taste of rust
    yet sweeter than any vintage
    pressed from the sun's full flaunt.

    I love these lines, and all the imaginings they give rise to.

  17. Reincarnating this for Fireblossom Friday was a brilliant idea, Hedge. It's perfect, a very powerful write.

  18. Such lovely language and images throughout. I especially like the 3rd verse.

  19. Powerful and lovely: Even the autumn leaves are romanced into tongues by your sight:
    "fragmented friable tongues of
    henna and ochre lost to a dusty haze
    that blots future and past . . . "

    The spell is in the site, the compulsion to recur, the visitor and her lover, the impossibility of reincarnation without death. Thus grows all nourishment and magic.

    This poem is new to me, but not the tone of you as poet. I am caught up in it as usual.

  20. Thanks for linking up despite your health woes, dear Witch. This one definitely deserves a fresh reading. It's one of your best.

  21. I'm speechless and left singing "Till We Meet Again"

  22. Oh wow...just don't let me be in their path when they cycle through this way again. This is stunning..I'm just amazed.

  23. Fabulous fave stanza is the "So I come out of the night" one too.

  24. yikes i love the "lichen'd kiss."

  25. Wow. This just gets better with each reading (and I'm on my fourth!) I can't decide which stanza is my fav since they are all so chock full of mysticism and sorcery. You did FB and yourself proud with this one!

  26. This is so very good...and what they all said too! LOL


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

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