from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

poem for the summer solstice

Summer solstice 2018

Today is the day of the oak-king
horned god of the greenwood at the peak
of his solar powers, at this moment
of maximum light bound to none –

(how many years ago now did we
process to the stones at sunrise?) –
sun on his longest journey northeast
to northwest in the sky (we crowned

each other then, king and queen of
midsummer) and nowhere to hide –
no shadows – yet already the year
slides back to the moon-queen’s time

(that journey you took that midwinter)
at the nadir where the holly king
guards the doorway and wrestles the old year
down (you with your crown of antlers

and how you too succumbed). And yet
nothing dies; simply lies fallow. Burdened
with the gift of our brief bright lives we could
remember this – nothing dies; everything will return.

© Roselle Angwin


  1. Love this poem Roselle x Sends a shiver x

  2. Ah hello Vivienne and thank you! Good to hear from you. Blessings for the year's turning. x

  3. From Miriam:

    'Roselle – a lovely way to tell the story behind the summer solstice. It took me a while to understand it fully, but the Oak King and the Holly King were quite clear. I found a reference
    ( to Herne – God of the Wild Hunt which helped. What I didn't know was the reference to a speech in Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor. I didn't know that Herne haunted Windsor forest and fought with the famous Windsor oak. I couldn't get on with Merry Wives and I don't need to now that I have your fascinating poem in such punchy mythical language. I particularly liked the last verse. In all this heat (now refreshingly cool) I crave the return of autumn knowing that after the long winter, 'nothing dies, everything will return'.'

  4. Thanks, Miriam. As I said in my email, in the old Arthurian but not only Arthurian myths – and the Celtic tree alphabet (all part of the content of my new book ‘A Spell in the Forest’) - the oak king rules midsummer but succumbs to the evergreen holly at midwinter.

    Herne is indeed the antlered god, also known as Cernunnos, of the pagan Goddess-based spirituality of these isles. Much to say about him, but here let's just say that, as the horned one, he might have given his name to Cornwall (Kernow), and possibly Kent.

    Thank you as always.



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