Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Song of Brigid

Last year I came across a traditional Irish hymn to Brigid, Gabhaim Molta Bríde. Struck by its haunting tune, taut metaphors, and the precision and restraint of its lyrics, I sat down with a prose translation and an Irish dictionary to work up an English version that would fit the tune while remaining as true as possible to the original text.

The song was first collected in the 19th century. How old it may be is impossible to say. But reading M. L. West's magisterial Indo-European Poetry and Myth, I cannot fail to be impressed by just how faithfully this hymn preserves the characteristics of ancient Indo-European hymnody. In style and content, Song of Brigid compares with the hymns of the Rig-Veda.

It delights me that the song applies as well to goddess as to saint. One can hardly help but admire a hymn that can be sung by pagan and Christian alike.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DuUup0_gRM

 

Song of Brigid

 

I will sing praise to Brigid:

praised is she in Eirinn,

praised is she in all lands;

let us all praise her.

 

Bright torch of Leincester,

shining throughout the land,

head of youth of Eirinn,

head of gentle women.

 

Dark the house of Winter,

cutting with its sharpness,

but on the Eve of Brigid

Spring draws nigh in Eirinn.

 

Eirinn: Ireland

Leincester: Irish province, seat of Brigid's chief fire-shrine


Claire Roche performs the original:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3kbazh1D14

 

Painting: Brigid (1995), Judith Page

http://www.judith-page.com/album/Art%20Cards%20MYSTICAL/slides/Brigid.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tagged in: Brigid Ireland
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.
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