Taliesin's Song of his Origins

by Taliesin

English version by John Matthews & Caitlin Matthews
Original Language Welsh

Firstly I was formed in the shape of a handsome man,
in the hall of Ceridwen in order to be refined.
Although small and modest in my behaviour,
I was great in her lofty sanctuary.

While I was held prisoner, sweet inspiration educated me
and laws were imparted me in speech which had no words;
but I had to flee from the angry, terrible hag
whose outcry was terrifying.

Since then I have fled in the shape of a crow,
since then I have fled as a speedy frog,
since then I have fled with rage in my chains,
-- a roe-buck in a dense thicket.

I have fled in the shape of a raven of prophetic speech,
in the shape of satirising fox,
in the shape of a sure swift,
in the shape of a squirrel vainly hiding.

I have fled in the shape of a red deer,
in the shape of iron in a fierce fire,
in the shape of a sword sowing death and disaster,
in the shape of a bull, relentlessly struggling.

I have fled in the shape of a bristly boar in a ravine,
in the shape of a grain of wheat.
I have been taken by the talons of a bird of prey
which increased until it took the size of a foal.

Floating like a boat in its waters,
I was thrown into a dark bag,
and on an endless sea, I was set adrift.

Just as I was suffocating, I had a happy omen,
and the master of the Heavens brought me to liberty.

-- from Taliesin: The Last Celtic Shaman, by John Matthews / Caitlin Matthews

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Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe & Oceania Taliesin: The Last Celtic Shaman





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