A Bealtaine Poem | The Old Ways
Updated: Feb 27
On the hill,
fiery petals unfurl,
a towering blossom of flame,
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,
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.