• Ali Isaac

A Bealtaine Poem | The Old Ways

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

the old ways

On the hill,

fiery petals unfurl,

a towering blossom of flame,

summer’s herald,

an omen of peace and plenty.

Around the Beal-fire maidens sway,

yellow-wrapped with starry strings of gorse,

their eyes light-filled,

heat leaping in their blood,

summer’s song sweet on their lips

while men compete at warrior’s sport.

They attempt the hero leap

over the fire,

urged on by mead, camaraderie, bravado,

a lover’s glance, and

the need to prove they are Cuchulainn's match.

Children run between the fires,

soot-covered, laughing,

or listen, slack-jawed,

to the tall tales the fili tell.

And then the cattle drive,

no small feat of a man’s skill

to manoeuvre that fire-crazed stampede

successfully through the inferno.

Eriu’s eye has opened. She sees all,

as the fires rise and fall

like the washing of the tides,

the wax and wane of the moon,

the wheel of life and death,

scattering ashes into the dry earth beneath,

wherein her pulse beats

cadence with the bodhran

and the dancers feet,

and life quickens

in the dark warm recesses

of the feminine.

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