The Tribe of Danu

– It was from the north they came;

and in the place they came from they had four cities,

where they fought their battle for learning:

great Falias, shining Gorias, Finias, and rich Murias.

Lebor Gabála Erénn

Or was it otherwise they arrived,

not battling the cold and dark

fated heroes wrestle with,

but flying out of the windy light

that comes after a rainsquall?

Swift clouds streaked with flame

wake the eyes to water slightly,

winds humming, the shrubs, the sea

shaken. Seeking freedom without blame,

— it was from the north they came —

at first like the tiniest out-breath of something

the lips feel shivering over them;

passing through the pale walls of  cities

in revolt, their numbers grow, fed

a kind of magic the sun grants

to those steeling themselves for a journey,

a windy light brushing their faces

with its glitter like make-up for a god,

glossing tower and belfry,

— and in the place they came from they had four cities, —

and a salt wind  tunneling through

a cloud turned molten by the sun.

The cloud tumbles, some loose-skinned,

boneless thing, molting into shapes

like plunging horses, their seven gaits

written of in lost tracts, listing

their aerial graces and dash,

pages flooded with light, whose leaves

ripple in the wind as they are leaving

— where they fought their battle for learning —

in those four fabulous cities.

Now in the wind, in the light are flashes,

thrown off the spokes of a wheel,

off a golden cuirass and brooches,

bronze bosses and studs. Their army

hesitates to leap with an airy lightness,

down into time, the wind tearing off

winged ornaments and the fire from their skin

driving them to abandon, like a scavenged carcass,

— great Falias, shining Gorias, Finias and rich Murias. —

[Teaching academic and creative writing at McGill University, Charlotte Hussey has published Rue Sainte Famille, which was short listed for the QSPELL Awards, and The Head Will Continue to Sing. Her poems have appeared in Canada and abroad in such publications as: The Antigonish Review; Arc; Moose Head Review; Fiddlehead; Garden Varieties: An Anthology of the Top Fifty Poems from the National Poetry Contest; Touchstone (U.K.); Soul of the Earth: An Ecobardic Anthology (U.K.); The Pagan’s Muse: Poems of Wisdom and Inspiration (U.S.); and Warren Wilson Review (U.S).]

3 thoughts on “The Tribe of Danu”

  1. Charlotte,

    Thank you for this richly imagined and felt world. Your background and your written work and your inner life merge in this poem.

    Janet Riehl

  2. What a lovely work, Charlotte. It sent shivers down my spine. Thank you for sharing!
    Julianne Draper

  3. This is an incredible poem. Too bad it is buried in the haystack that is the internet. But I am very glad I came across it. Excellent research and writing.

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