Two Sonnets for OneShotPoetryWednesday.

Cu Chulainn, from Celtic Mythology

A few years ago I was writing a novel called “Devil’s Revenge”.  There is a passage towards the end of this too-cumbersome book where the characters descend into Celtic times and mythology.  From that research I came across Cu Chulainn and other characters in this fascinating mythology.  I knew a little before beginning this research but it wasn’t  enough to fill a thimble.  The mythology of Cu Chulainn and in fact that whole period gave rise to a lot of attempts at some form of poetry.  It seemed then that the sonnet form, something I had never written before, seemed to be the ‘proper’ form to  embrace this mythology.  One thing I realized: I really hate sonnet form.  It’s damn hard.

Note: Part of the  accepted mythology is that Lug dragged his cock (which stood in for a  huge club…)across the earth and made the mountains and valleys.  It’s not just me being nasty….it’s in the myth.  These sexual-psychological issues were important in the mythologizing.   Being King, God of Light, he had to have something outrageous going for him…

Also, Cu Chulainn was known as the Hound of Ulster (another story there…)

Lady Nyo


“In that sweet country, I’ll rest my weapon”

Said Cu Chulainn to beauteous Emer

And a war spasm came upon him fast

With face distorting, hair stood upended

Teeth barred in anger, cock a rigid mast

His body whipped around, his knees unbended,

And sweet Emer prayed his luck would last.

Her father, King Lug, Celtic God of Light

Set her swain to tasks and toil unending,

While Bricru the Poison Tongue cries in fright:

“The Hound of Ulster, Irish unbending,

Leads in battle for comes he in his might!

And Emer waits with patient love the day

When Cu Chulainn comes near and claims his right!


When Lug dragged his cock upon the earth deep

And threw up mountains and hillocks in haste

Fair Aine came behind him with sweet seeds reap’d

And fertile was the land, no virgins chaste

Followed the reapers and saw the crows fly

Up in the air with black wings flapping sound

She watered the plantings with moisture, sighed

For Lug had others of mistresses round

Fair Aine pined in sorrow, her heart laid bare

All other women Lug held with his charm

When she walked afield, the men  did dare

To raise their eyes and hearts without alarm.

The children she bore now, peppered the earth,

And Lug still dragged his cock, taunting with mirth!

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2010

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22 Responses to “Two Sonnets for OneShotPoetryWednesday.”

  1. shanellis Says:

    It’s absolutely amazing how often Welsh and Irish mythology intertwine. This sounds like the story of Pwyll and Rhiannon from the Mabinogi. As an absolute lover of mythology of any kind I appreciate highly your hard work in looking at the backstory to the poetry. Great to have a bit of history for bed time reading!




  2. ladynyo Says:


    I know a little about the Mabinogi, because it segued into the stories of Irish myths….I can’t remember why, but it did in my research.

    I am glad to meet another absolute lover of mythology! LOL! And I love history, too. These myths are so real, heart gripping, speak to something that must be deep in the DNA! And I think the links between the Irish/Scottish/Welsh are very deep….hell, you can’t get away from the Druids anywhere you go on this island!

    I was a bit fearful that using the word “cock” would be a putoff for OneShot, but then again, it’s a historically accurate term….and I found a lot more that were a lot worse in the myths! LOL!

    Thanks again, for reading, your comment and your encouragement! I have written quite a number of ‘flashers’….200 word stories about Greek and German mythology, and some more of Celtic mythology, but haven’t known where to post them. It takes a bit of work to get into these mythologies, especially the Celtic, because most of us in the US aren’t familiar with them. But they are so well worth it. Fabulous stories and mythologies that are deep in the psyche, I believe, for many of us.

    Lady Nyo


  3. Steve Isaak Says:

    Great tale-telling via structured verse. 🙂


  4. beachanny Says:

    Sonnets are damn hard. I can say with not so much success as these two written here. My knowledge of the deep Celtic myths is slim but the feel of these two pieces feel like the Celtic landscapes I traversed once a long time back. Well written, my friend. Gay


  5. ladynyo Says:

    Oh, Thank you, Gay.

    They ARE hard, and I don’t do many of them. Three years or two ago, I did venture into sonnet territory and learned fast that they are very difficult. I don’t do rhyming schemes well, just too undisciplined, I guess.

    I was surprised, Gay, in rereading these two that they did bring forth some of the flavor of the Celtic mythology. I think we can get caught up in the moment when we are researching, and I don’t know what happens here….but the ‘voice’ sidles up to the myth and something comes from it.

    Probably pure beginner’s luck here.

    But! I think when we search out a culture, if we are sympathetic to that culture, it is not that hard to adopt a voice through our cobbled words. Something about the energy of the mythology, or something, responds. I just published a book last spring: “The Zar Tales”, which had a novella….”The Zar Tale”…(I’m not great on titles obviously…lol) and it was definitely Persian-flavored verse that I got the feeling from reading 12 century Rumi and Hafez. It was pretty easy then to assume the position of a bad Berber/Persian poet. I couldn’t do a ‘good’ Persian poet….LOL! But for this character, who was a bad poet for 1000 years, bad poetry worked.

    Frankly, I don’t know if I would ever go towards sonnets again…these miserable verses. I have a passel of them, but they are iffy at best.

    Thanks, again, Gay, for reading and leaving an encouraging comment.



  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Steve….

    These were strange and not my usual stuff….which lately have seemed to be redundant…as we talked about just today. So perhaps we surprise ourselves some times.

    I might try more Celtic verse, but not in sonnets…too hard. Freeverse is enough of a challenge for me!

    Thank you so much, Steve, for reading and leaving a kind comment.



  7. hedgewitch Says:

    You had WAY better luck with the sonnet form here than I’ve had. I think they’re extremely effective and read smoothly and well–all while being excellent poems within and besides the structuring. I enjoyed the subject matter, too. I love all myths, and I need to take the time tof learn more about the Celts–they’re a haunting culture.


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hiya Joy….

    I agree about the Celts….they are a haunting culture, and the mythology is enormous.

    I don’t know what it is about sonnets….most poets, people, hate them. They are hard, but there is something about them: they force you into a mold, a discipline….where you have to really regard the words, the rhyming, the abab/bcbc…whatever.

    Perhaps it’s an issue that this rigid form allows some freedom of something internally in the poem? I don’t know, but I did a a number of them, and they were very different in the ‘thought process’ that usually forms my poems….

    I still hate them, but I am also fascinated by the form….just know that they are strange and forbidding to me. Perhaps you have to write a ton of them before you become comfortable with the form? I just don’t know.

    I do know that for centuries, different sonnet forms were THE form that poetry was put in. So, they have a well thought of history. Perhaps we poets of this century are just…lazy?

    I think the structure of this (sonnet) allowed me to someway attend to the mythology. The rigidness of the form gave a limitation to what was possible? I still don’t know, but I do know that my poetry sounds very different in sonnet form. It’s like something other than my usual freewheeling self takes over.

    Thank you, Joy, for reading and leaving an insightful comment. You’ve given me encouragement to wrestle further with this form.



  9. June_Butterfly Says:

    Sonnets!I don’t think I can ever write one.Both fascinated me because I am not well informed about mythology aside from Roman and Greek.My lack of knowledge do become hindrances in widening my craft.Reading works of others is truly a great help for me.And reading both your sonnets was truly a great learn for me.

    Great one shot,Jane!


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, June.

    THey were iffy…for both subject matter and attempt. Sonnets are damn hard, as we all keep saying, but there is something about them…what, I don’t really know.

    I understand deeply about the lack of knowledge holding up a craft. My problem also…pretty universal I think for most writers. I learn so much from reading OneShot folk….what an excellent site that you all have been running. I hope it lasts for a very long time!

    Thanks, June, for reading and for making such a supportive comment. Deeply appreciated.



  11. Claudia Says:

    wow – you took me right into an other time – to the middle of a world of saga and battles..wonderfully done and a perfect topic for a sonnet i think…


  12. Joanne Sprott Says:

    Ah, the deep sensuality and chaos of Irish myth married to the discipline of the sonnet form. I’m one of those who loves both, Celtic myth (or any other kind) and the Shakespearean sonnet. Great combination. I could hear your pieces recited ’round the fires of Beltane…long, long ago.


  13. ladynyo Says:

    Whew! I get a pass here? LOL!

    You nailed it: the deep sensuality and CHAOS (lots of that…) of Irish myth. LOL!

    And Thank You! That is high praise indeed about the pieces recited ’round the fires of Beltane.

    Wish I was a moth on a limb near the fire back then. Think how our poetry would have formed….

    Thank you, Joanne, for reading and leaving such a kind comment.

    Lady Nyo


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Claudia.

    It surprised me, too. I don’t know what it is about the sonnet form, but it changes your voice so much….I wouldn’t have recognized this poem as my usual….but again it’s the sonnet form.

    Has to be. I have been thinking all morning about the cultural difference between Celtic sagas and the poems that came from them….and the Japanese tankas and battles. Really, a world of difference.

    The poetry of the Celts is so fierce. Suspicion, intrigue, battles continuing onward through generations, tribes….what a world of conflict!

    I think you are right: Celtic mythology is a perfect topic for sonnets. It’s just that the form demands so much!

    Thank you for reading and leaving an insightful comment.

    Lady Nyo


  15. River Says:

    I so enjoyed your sonnets. I don’t know much about sonnets but it looked good to me and what humor. lol You have shown me my next challenge . I will attempt a sonnet. Any pointers? Thank you for the laugh.


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Oh! Definitely blind leading the blind here!

    I looked over the sonnets I did from 2007….mostly 2008….and the revisions, and I quite confused myself…LOL!

    All I can say is there is generally….10 syllables to the line…this abab/cdcd/efef/gg issue of form…with the last couplet rhyming.

    It DEFINITELY changes your usual voice for a poem…! I sound alien to me…

    But! I think it is a good exercise, and it certainly is a discipline. It is damn hard but worth it for some reason…perhaps because you are ‘different’ in the approach to sonnet forming? you get different poetical results??

    Thank you for reading and your comment. Good Luck~!

    Lady Nyo


  17. Shashi Says:

    I enjoyed it so much.. the description made it all the more beautiful and lovely… You, as always, posted one of the most beautiful verse..

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    Twitter: @VerseEveryDay


  18. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, Shashi!

    I am so new to poetry, to writing, but I am really struggling with it. There is so much to learn! Sonnets are very interesting stuff…these English sonnets, and the Italian forms. I haven’t tried the Italian ones, and I probably won’t.

    You know what? It’s learning in small bits. Each day learning something about writing and poetry….and if you just allow yourself the gift of reading something, someone…and letting it sink in…not overwhelming yourself, slowly, you can learn.

    I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I start to read the poets on OneStop. I am dizzy with the beauty of the poetry! There is just so much there, and so much talent.

    We poets have the best of worlds.

    Thank you, Shashi, for reading and for your lovely comment.

    Lady Nyo


  19. gautami tripathy Says:

    Thanks for this one shot!



  20. ladynyo Says:

    You are welcome.

    Lady Nyo


  21. Judy Sheldon-Walker Says:

    Fascinating and well written.


  22. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Judy …for reading and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


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