A sleeping god awoke
as though he was the first to wake in all time.
Around him cold, and dark, and silence,
nor could he move a limb, for he was bound.
‘Ah’, remembered he, ‘I am the god whose destiny
is the darkness and the silence and the cold.
I am that Bound God’.
And because he had awoken in this place time upon time
and for aeons slept again,
did he in a while begin his journey into sleep once more.
But now, as in a dream, Light came unto him…
Softly she came, peering through the canopy surrounding him.
to look upon the bound and sleeping god.
But he, stirring from the beginnings of his sleep, did speak:
‘Never did I cast mine eyes upon aught but darkness –
yet thee I know. Thou art Light’.
‘Yea’, came her whisper, ‘I looked on thee in thy dark resting place,
and took pity upon thee, thou Bound and Sleeping One’.
The touch of wind on harp strings had her voice,
and again the Bound God marvelled:
‘Never did I know aught but the silence of eternity –
yet thee I know. Thou art Voice’.
‘Yea, and I perceive that I am music unto thee,
thou who lie there bound’.
‘Then wilt thou not enter, thou of Light and Voice,
and loose these bonds that bind me?’
‘Nay, for my movement in thy stillness and my brightness in thy darkness and
my warmth to ban thy coldness would of certainty beguile thee.
Above which he who is my Master forbiddeth even this prying of mine’.
‘Thy radiance and thy voice beguileth me already. But who is this
that forbiddeth thee? Is it he that doth keep me bound?’
‘Fret thou not upon such matters; but since. meseemeth,
thou art as prying as I, ‘tis in truth my Master who hath bound thee.
My Master, and thine, for it is he who is our Maker, and thou art bound
for that thou art yet undestined. But he keeps thee thus o’erlong –
though time is naught to him who shapeth stars and gods –
and betimes have I come to gaze upon thy sleeping self.
I thought not to enchant thee. But since, as thou sayest, thou art beguiled,
and I beguiled as thee… yea, I will come to thee’.
And when she came to him, he beheld the fullness and the brilliance
and the great beauty of her;
and when she touched him, his whole being was enveloped in her warmth.
When the fetters were undone he clasped her to him, and willingly she came.
How long it was they slept they knew not, but that when they awoke
the dark pavilion which had enclosed them shone now with the brilliance
of the stars,
and a voice came, drifting down upon them from above.
‘So. There thou art, my wayward goddess – and thou hast found my
And she in the Bound God’s arms did struggle to be free of them, calling
‘Forgive me, Lord! I sought only to give succour to one bound
who could move no limb, nor hear kind words, and who knew neither
warmth nor light’.
‘And I had fashioned thee both so differently. Forgive thee, sayest thou?
Yea, that is done, for knowest thou that I ever intended him for thee, and
thou for him.
But punishment thou shalt not escape, goddess mine, for thou metest out
as much upon thyself’.
‘How so? How meanest thou, my Lord?’
‘Feeleth thou not thy light diminishing? It floweth into him that wast
made dark – as soon thou wilt be.
And feeleth thou not how his strong arms do fetter thee? Thou art the
Bound One now!’
And when it came upon the goddess that this was so, she cried out for
her Master’s help.
‘Nay, I will not help reverse what a goddess did choose to do of her own
A craftsman only am I, and not a delver into what is to be counted right
This Wheel that I cast across the dark canopy above must ever spin upon
its own volition. I steer it not.
But take thou heart, thou kind, unruly goddess, and thee, thou clasping,
For since thou hast of choice been bound together, a prophecy will I make,
that thou shalt thus remain.
Thou, o light and unfettered god, shalt encircle and embrace this thy
chosen one for time without end.
And thou, o goddess embraced, will bring forth from thy loved one
and innumerable will thy children be, to cherish thee until the end of time’.
By now was the unbound god a-shine with light, and the goddess sombre;
and she knew herself to be with child.
‘Lord, we thank thee for thy blessing. And must we stand forsaken, now?‘
‘Nay, for he that hath crafted thee may not entirely forsake thee.
Knowest thou that though thou embraceth thy loved one always, o airy-light
god, when thou and she doth sleep
I with my glistening, myriad stars will watch over thee both. And brighter lamps
will I give to thee;
to keep thee in mind of my presence, a kinsman and a kinswoman for thee,
a brother to burn fierce in thy wakefulness, a sister to glow gently in thy sleep.
Brother Sun and Sister Moon will they be named, and thou, beautiful goddess,
the Mother Earth – and thou, god of the broad embrace, her girdle of the Sky.
Signed holy shalt thy family be and blessed by thy progeny.
But mark that thou shalt be my last works, and that I did make thee of
mine own life-stuff,
that which wast from the beginning scattered unto powder among my stars.
In them, and in thee, will I henceforth abide forever’.
(The metrical Creation Myth from ‘The Cosmology of the Armoured Isle’)
Note: ‘Brother Sun and Sister Moon’ is a phrase which, on first coming across it, immediately appealed to me. Some time later, I found that these were the words of St. Francis of Assisi, but it was not until a good few decades later (there is so much to learn and so much that must be missed!) that I came across his Laudes Creaturarum / Canticle of the Creatures / Canticle of the Sun. Upon reading it, I found that there were striking parallels between The Cosmology of the Armoured Isle (into which I had promptly adopted the two named siblings) and St. Francis’ Prayer, as the Creation Myth contained in the Cosmology, too, features a single family. Building upon brother and sister planetary entities, though, I suppose that such similarities were inevitable. The poem is part of a class of ‘Fragments’ incorporated into the body of the manuscript which contains the narrative of The Armoured Isle. Of the little of the Cosmology that remains, apart from this principal and apparently complete poem of Earth, Sky, Sun, Moon and stars, there looms large in this cosmic family the sometimes sinister figure of ‘The Grey Brother’ who has many attributes and aspects – he is the Wind as Zephyr and as Storm on land and sea, and ultimately is responsible for the demise of all living things (I have notes for all its members tucked away somewhere, but they must lie under one of many dust-covered piles and are probably pressed into geological strata by now). But there are, in addition, all the minor spirits responsible for Earth’s flora and fauna, and every aspect of the natural world.
There is a secondary connection. The reversal of identities between light and darkness – the identities in the case of the tale being Sky and Earth – bears a parallel to a number of existing myths of exactly such an exchange between solar and lunar deities, in which a female Sun Goddess’ position is usurped by a male entity. Although the Sun God and the Sky Father are one and the same in European mythology ‘Sun’ is replaced here by ‘Sky’ as an entity entirely separate from the Sun itself (Sun / Sky being throughout the Cosmology non-interchangeable terms). The conception is rather of the sky immediately above and encircling the Earth – comprising our biosphere / atmosphere and being, effectively, the ‘tent’ or ‘canopy’ of the sky exclusive of the ‘firmament’ of the outer heavens. The already created but aimless Sky Goddess, sensing within herself a lack of purpose, is naturally curious – and as it turns out over-curious, but happily so – to know what exactly lay within that which she had been appointed to watch over for so very long. The coming together seeds the Earth with all its future teeming life-forms – ‘Innumerable will thy children be, to cherish thee until the end of time’; well, until this our own time, anyway, when the bounty of nature has been blighted by its own custodians.
A third connection is that the ‘Bound God’ can be equated with ‘The Prisoner Gweir’ of Taliesin’s Preiddieu Annwn / Spoils of the Underworld. This is a well-known poem, not all that long, but with a whole lot packed into it. There have been a number of interpretations of it – and it is a poem which deserves interpretation as well as translation. My personal homage has always been drawn to the exposition of Alun Llewellyn. I came across what he has to say only in a piece of correspondence (but fairly detailed correspondence) in a late- ‘60s literary journal, and have been meaning to follow it up ever since; the possibility of further elucidation in a future article was suggested, but despite the fact that I was intrigued by it, foolishly never followed it up (something that I am only now – with a jab in the ribs from The Bound God – very much belatedly investigating in the hope of tracking down the proposed second article). I wonder, too, whether a monograph ever saw the light of day. Alun Llewellyn’s thesis, to me both appealing and persuasive, is that the poem is nothing less than a skillfully constructed cosmological treatise in verse; its knowledge is profound and steeped firmly in Classical philosophy. ‘Gweir’ is used as a synonym for the Earth, and the spatial region of ‘Carchar’ which surrounds him is a closed circuit within which he is imprisoned. It occurred to me that this favourably suited the situation of The Bound God and his watcher.
Excerpts from my long poem, The Apocalypse of Gwair (‘Gweir’ is actually the more accurate spelling) have already been posted up as stand-alone poems (see The Angels of Mons and The Encounter with Time and his Brother in the list of titles).
A sleeping god awoke