Suibhne, the Wild Man in the Forest

As the wild and vivid colours of autumn consume the landscape around me and the nights draw in, illuminated by a full moon, I have been reading 12th century Irish verse…my ancestors had a deep respect for the natural world as displayed in these extracts…

“Little antlered one, little belling one, melodious little bleater, sweet I think the lowing that you make in the glen.

Home-sickness for my little dwelling has come upon my mind, the calves in the plain, the deer on the moor.

Oak, bushy, leafy, you are high above trees; hazel-bush, little branchy one, coffer of hazel-nuts.

Alder, you are not spiteful, lovely is your colour, you are not prickly when you are in the gap.

Blackthorn, little thorny one, black little sloe-bush; water-cress, little green-topped one, on the brink of the blackbird’s well.

Saxifrage of the pathway, you are the sweetest of herbs; cress, very green one; plant where the strawberry grows.

Apple-tree, little apple-tree, violently everyone shakes you; rowan, little berried one, lovely is your bloom.

Bramble, little humped one, you do not grant fair terms; you do not cease tearing me till you are sated with blood.

Yew, little yew, you are conspicuous in graveyards; ivy, little ivy, you are familiar in the dark wood.

Holly, little shelterer, door against the wind; ash-tree, baneful, weapon in the hand of a warrior.

Birch, smooth, blessed, proud, melodious, lovely is each entangled branch at the top of your crest.

Aspen, as it trembles, from time to time I hear its lovely rustling, and think it is the foray…

Taken from: ‘Suibhne the Wild Man in the Forest’   

           Irish; author unknown; twelfth century

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5 thoughts on “Suibhne, the Wild Man in the Forest

  1. Thank you for the wonderful verse, our ancestors had such a strong connection to the Earth and its creatures.
    I also love the following verse from Finn and the Man in the Tree. Finn finds one of his men sitting in a tree with:
    “A blackbird on his right shoulder and in his left hand a white vessel of bronze,filled with water in which was a skittish trout and a stag at the foot of the tree…Cracking nuts, he would give half the kernel to the blackbird, while he would himself eat the other half. He would take an apple…divide it in two, throw one half to the stag..and then eat the other half himself…He would drink a sip the water in the bronze vessel so that he, the trout and the stag and the blackbird drank together.

    Like

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