Flash mythology

Embroidery on an old story and a line from a poem by Maya Angelou, His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream.

 

Elatha was no more than shadow. Since the Fomhóire were defeated and his ambitions torn to ribbons, he had gone back to live beneath the wild waves, beyond the black cliffs beaten by the ocean, where his ancestors had arisen from, and the world was the better for it. But Midir stirred up his old ambitions and the ambitions of his son Eochu Bres, the beast, though Brigid would rather his name was never heard again.

Elatha was no more than shadow but Midir gave him substance and he gave Bres a spear, all to kill Oisín who he hated worse than poison. The world hung in the balance, the Isle of Apple Trees waited, the salmon curled in the mud at the bottom of the pool, and the birds of the dead souls fell silence.

Swan women bound two and two by silver chains rose from the lake between the worlds and Oisín watched them fly. In the wind of their passing he heard Niamh whisper, and her voice filled his heart with longing. When Ulatha and his son strode out of the shadows, a thing of mist and murk, the sea muck clinging to their cloaks, he was ready; he had Brigid’s sword and Niamh’s love.

When Bres threw the spear that was not his, and the spear turned back on the thief who threw it, when Ulatha saw his son struck down by his own hand, he uttered a scream that would give nightmares to an unborn child in the womb.

Oisín wielded the words Niamh had taught him and the sword Brigid had forged for him and Ulatha fell back before them all, the bright burning lights that pierced his shadows, fell back to the ocean depths, where none, not even Midir the cunning, would raise him up again.

The swan women circled and settled on the lake, and threw off their feather cloaks. One strode out of the shallows to Oisín, the silver chain in her hands.

“Niamh,” he murmured.

She smiled. “Will you come with me and be bound to me as I will be bound to you? Will you follow where I lead when I know the way, and listen to the silence what I say there is no need for words?”

He took her hands and kissed her face. “I will be bound to you and never look for the key. I am not such a fool that I would challenge your knowledge, and I already know that the silence the birds sing is wiser than any words of mine could ever be.”

So Niamh wrapped the feather cloak about them both and it was as two great swans that they flew out of the world of men forever.

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Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

8 thoughts on “Flash mythology”

  1. Niamh seems unusually and wonderfully enlightened. So often, males in myth are ruled by pride and ego, typically to their rue. But here’s someone who appears to understand truth and wisdom where they lie, not with him, though he will be near them always.

    1. That was the embroidery. I’m glad you thought so though. The myths were all transcribed by men and generally have a male viewpoint. Many of the stories with heroines were simply not recorded or were diluted by the monks to make them more acceptable. I don’t think women were asked their opinions much, though some of them gave them nevertheless. I’d like to set the story straight and ask what they thought about the heroic deeds of the menfolk.

    1. I’m pleased you think so. I think it’s to do with the fact that the Irish myths were transcribed from oral transmissions by monks in the early middle ages and they used the vernacular, Old Irish, which was then translated into Modern Irish and from that into Hiberno-English in the nineteenth century, which of course is different in construction to Ango-English and not much like American English.
      I think the trick is to strip all the anachronism out of the language you choose, which means all modern English idioms and technical words.

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