On the summit of his ancient stronghold,
South Barrule Mountain, the god Manannan
yet dwells invisible to mortal eyes….
The land rises to meet the sky, when I renew
my pledge to Manannan Mac Lir, for letting
me live, dream and write on his holy isle.
This Midsummer Night’s day, let me place
my humble bundle of green rushes at the foot
of Barrule and climb the lofty summit
of the mountain, where he dwells invisible
to mortal eyes. Avowing your fealty
to Manannan in all the heavens above
and the earth below, in occasional shades
of amber, frankincense and myrrh, you pledge
your flowing palette to that wizard chief –
seven times in seven shades you paint.
In incantatory rhythm: gold and ochre,
fire and air, earth and water, fortunes made
and dragons met. Faery music plays
on your enchanted chroma for the wizard
king and his beloved Fand, strewing
the mountain path with analogous colours
of the earth that drain your muse of all
demesne shades. Subtle strokes bind
your landscape to old laws, sage wisdom
and bones of time that renew themselves
on large draughts of moon that waxes and wanes
out of the purlieus of your pictorial frame.
Your canvas, a mystic tool to launch the behest
of Gods into the eyes of men, the mountain itself,
an altarpiece to that Celtic spirit. Do I see Mac Lir
himself, rising to meet the sky, or is it my reading
of your linear perspective, lacquering the summit
of my thoughts with empyrean cloud? Do I hear
Enbarr of flowing mane, blithely neighing
in granite hues of grey, tossed around the west?
Do I smell the meditating green sea hiding
behind the heights of Barrule? In the grisailled
skies, a crane, the totem bird takes invisible wing…
Poetry © Usha Kishore
The quote at the beginning of the poem is from Chapter 1, “The Living
Fairy Faith,” from the book, The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y.
Barrule – translated as “summit” from Manx Gaelic. South Barrule is a mountain summit
on the Isle of Man, considered the abode of Manannan.
Manannan Mac Lir – is a Celtic sea deity, considered to be the God or Guardian of the Isle of Man,
which is said to have derived its name from him.
Enbarr – Manannan’s horse
Fand – Manannan’s wife
Poems from On Manannan’s Isle – © Usha Kishore
Painting – © Carola Colley