Thursday, March 2, 2023

Fairy stories

In the Irish myth cycles, the land of Tir na nOg is the realm of the Otherworld, the place where the Fae lived and heroes visited on quests. It was a place just outside the realm of man, off to the west, where there was no illness or death or time, but only happiness and beauty.

It is important to note that Tir na nOg was not so much an “afterlife” as it was a an earthly place, a land of eternal youth, that could only be reached by way of magic.

The most famous story associated with Tir na nOg (Land of Eternal Youth) is that of Oisin and Niamh:
Golden-haired Niamh is the princess of Tír na nÓg, the Land of Youth, who dreamt of Oisín and comes to ask him to return to Tír na nÓg. He gladly does, and they marry. After more than 300 years of living together, Oisín, who does not realize how much time has passed, asks to visit Ireland. Niamh, who realizes he will be disappointed, reluctantly agrees, warning him not to touch the ground there. He accidentally does, whereupon he ages three hundred years and dies without seeing Niamh again.

Wishing you could turn over our problems to the fairies and let them handle it? Poet Claire Hermann considers it, thinking about the myth of "the fairy tithe," where every seven years a "fee" must be paid or a penalty will be invoked. What if you wanted the penalty?

A tithe to Hell
by Claire Hermann

Ay at the end of seven years we pay a tiend to hell;
I am sae fair and fu o flesh and feared it be mysel.
—Tam Lin, Child Ballad 39A

I walk alone in the winter field,
and men in camo stomp over to inform me this is private property.
I look up at Orion in the still of midnight,
and the neighbor’s security light comes on.
The forests out east are pulped and pelleted,
and the swamp rises salty over the roots of the cypress,
and we pour exhaust into the mouths of the sky
until it spits back hurricanes and heat waves.
The hills above the ocean char to black.
I am done with petitions and marching.
Let us leave bowls of milk on the steps for the fae.
Let them creep from underground...

read the rest here


[fiction instead of lies] has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Tanita!


Irene Latham said...

What if you wanted the penalty. Definitely fodder for poetry!

Janice Scully said...

Thanks for sharing the story of Tir na nOg. Reminded me of Brigadoon. I love the idea in the poem of leaving milk out for the faeries because it seems we do need any kind of help.

tanita✿davis said...

Okay THAT is utterly terrifying. Just might work, though... The only drawback is the general tenor of the human race; somehow the rich would figure out a way for the poor to get the short end of the deal.... But the earth would certainly rebalance!

Mary Lee said...

Your poem and Heidi's make quite the pair this week.

We need the marching and protesting and testifying, but I'm all for enlisting the fairies' help as well. Whatever it takes to turn this horrible human machine around.

Karen Edmisten said...

Wow, I read that one twice. Such powerful imagery. I'm with Tanita that somehow I expect the rich would rig it all against the poor. I'm left wondering exactly what the result of the fairies' work would look like...

Michelle Kogan said...

Ah let's enlist the fairies, and while we are at it, why not get rid of time and illness. Everything is a mess all around our small world and we need all the help we can get, now how do we get there… I'd like to escape into the "otherworld" and try on this truth and beauty for a while, thanks Tabatha, xox!

mbhmaine said...

Wow! That is powerful indeed. I wonder if the fae folk have simply washed their hands of us or if they could indeed offer this somewhat frightening form of help. Clearly something needs to happen...