Monday, 5 May 2014

The White Ancient

The first people ever to walk the virgin territory of Ireland were the tribe of Cessair, and the tribal chief was a man called Tuan, the White Ancient. I am that man.
I studied the ancient crafts and learned the mysteries of the soul and how it finds reincarnation in different forms, including those of animals. I have come to understand how to die and how to be reborn and I have practiced this art more times than I can remember. I have been man and beast, sea and sky. I have watched the raising of mighty cities of gold and have also witnessed their destruction.
Through my many lifetimes I have become the guardian of human courage and dreams.
I am legend incarnate.
I am memory turned myth.

I, Tuan the White Ancient, dwelt in happiness in Ireland and my tribe enjoyed peace. But then the Great Flood destroyed us utterly, leaving only me alive.
Living alone and desolate in the ruined fortresses, now laid waste, I survived for twenty two years, fending off the attentions of the thriving wolf packs.
Then a new people arrived, led by Partholón, a people who were well cultured and generous. I found a warm welcome in their hearts, and enjoyed the pleasure of their companionship.
Then a plague visited the population and all perished, all except me, who am both blessed and cursed. Alone again in the empty fortresses, the rigors of age and solitude took their toll. At length the powerful grey wolves menaced me so that I was forced to desert the fortresses and toil for every scrap of shelter in the forests, all the time aching for human contact. It was the wolves though, that found me there and they harried me so closely that I was driven out and escaped to dwell by the cliffs.
It was from there that I saw the distant sails of a fleet of ships bearing towards Erin, driven by a rising wind. I followed them along the cliff tops, racing for where they might reach land, springing from rock to rock like a wildcat! As the fleet grew closer I recognized the markings on their sails: the serpent and the rod. These sailors were from my own tribe!
I paused to drink from a pool of fresh water. And there I caught sight of my reflection. My long years of living as an animal had made strange demands,- I was no longer truly human. Naked, I was covered with hair, and with strong curving nails like claws on my hands and feet. I had become brother to the beasts. I could not bear to meet my kinsmen like this. Like a wounded animal I slunk back to my cave. The rising storm shrieked as it smashed against the cliffs yet barley drowned the howls of my broken heart. And all unheard through the booming thunder, at the foot of the cliffs the fleet was splintering on the rocks, its vessels spilling their cargo of lives into the blood-stained waters…..

With gratitude to K & J Taylor