Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

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The Pomegranate Tree: A Carol by Robert Graves

If you haven't read (or reread) Robert Graves' King Jesus lately, let me recommend it.

Don't be put off by the title, or the subject matter. This novel is Graves' revisionist Goddess history of that erstwhile Jewish prophet, and—Graves being Graves—it's matriarchy versus patriarchy in the Battle of the Millennium.

Spoiler alert: the Goddess wins.

(No big surprise there. Anybody that knows Her knows that, in the end, the Goddess always wins.)

Written at roughly the same time as Graves' “grammar of poetic myth” The White Goddess, King Jesus is equally filled with savory tidbits of lore, but—with its iconoclastic narrative to buoy it up—it's eminently the more readable of the two.

Among the riches that you'll find there is this delightful little carol. We generally sing it to the tune of the traditional Appalachian song The Cherry Tree Carol.

 

 

The Pomegranate Tree Carol

 

Down in the garden as I walked

one lovely day in spring

a tall pomegranate-tree I spied,

of every tree the king.

A tall pomegranate-tree I spied,

of every tree the king.

 

More green his leaf than beryl stone,

caught in a blaze of sun;

his scarlet flowers that budded out,

more sweet than cinnamon.

His scarlet flowers that budded out,

more sweet than cinnamon.

 

With trembling hand a flower I plucked

between my breasts to lie—

fruit of the tall pomegranate-tree,

sleep well and lullaby.

Fruit of the tall pomegranate-tree,

sleep well and lullaby.

 

 

Lyrics: Robert Graves

Tune: Appalachian Traditional, The Cherry Tree Carol

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Comments

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 13 December 2018

    I remember reading about the book King Jesus in Drawing Down the Moon but I've never stumbled across a copy of the book myself. If the author of Drawing Down the Moon is correct then King Jesus by Robert Graves served as a gateway book to paganism for many back in the 70's and 80's.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 14 December 2018

    Anthony, I'm astounded. A well-read guy like you?
    Tell you what. If you can't find a copy at your local library, buy yourself a cheapie used copy on the internet (I'll bet you could find one for 6-7 dollars.)
    Next time I see you (Paganicon, maybe?) I'll cover the cost myself.
    Call it a Yule gift.

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