Saturday, January 16, 2016

Month of Poetry #16: Rondeau for Ceridwen

Today is challenge day in Month of Poetry, and this week's challenge is to write a rondeau. This is a thirteen-line poem, divided into three stanzas of 5, 3, and 5 lines, with only two rhymes throughout and with the opening words of the first line used as a refrain at the end of the second and third stanzas.

The rondeau consists of thirteen lines of eight syllables, plus two refrains (which are half lines, each of four syllables), employing, altogether, only three rhymes. It has three stanzas and its rhyme scheme is as follows: (1) A A B B A (2) A A B with refrain: C (3) A A B B A with concluding refrain C. The refrain must be identical with the beginning of the first line. The refrain is not included in the line count, which leaves thirteen lines.

It's not the easiest form, but here's my attempt, returning to women of mythology to consider Ceridwen, the Celtic (Welsh) goddess who represents the crone stage of female life and power. She has powers of prophecy, and is the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge and inspiration in the Underworld.

In one part of the Mabinogion, which is the cycle of myths found in Welsh legend, Ceridwen brews up a potion in her magical cauldron to give to her son Afagddu (Morfran).

She puts young Gwion in charge of guarding the cauldron, but three drops of the brew fall upon his finger, blessing him with the knowledge held within. Cerridwen pursues Gwion through a cycle of seasons until, in the form of a hen, she swallows Gwion, disguised as an ear of corn. Nine months later, she gives birth to Taliesen, the greatest of all the Welsh poets.


When moon is full, arise the crone,
To claim birthright, take her dark throne.
Mother-goddess, cauldron clear.
All wisdom brewed, all knowing here,
Her hand stretched out to guard her own.

A finger blessed, child's power grown,
So far from darkest cave-lands thrown;
Consuming back her power dear,
When moon is full.

Belly heavy, new life from stone,
The word's true magic birthed and known;
New life and death, protection, fear,
Transformation whispering near,
When moon is full.

- Kathy, 16/01/16

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