Two Sonnets: “When Cu Chulainn Courts Emer” and “Immortal Marriage”

Cu Chulainn, from Celtic Mythology

Cu Chulainn, from Celtic Mythology

Cu Chulainn, from Celtic Mythology

A few years ago I was writing a novel called “Devil’s Revenge”. (There are three chapters from this book under this entry for those curious…) And… 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

WHEN CU CHULAINN COURTS EMER

“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!

IMMORTAL MARRIAGE

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, 2009-2013

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13 Responses to “Two Sonnets: “When Cu Chulainn Courts Emer” and “Immortal Marriage””

  1. Yousei Hime Says:

    Until I read this, I didn’t realize rabbits could role their eyes. 😉 Chuckled all the way through. Go sonnets!

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  2. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Glad it gave you a chuckle. Scandalized some….

    Thanks for reading, Rabbit.

    Lady Nyo

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  3. brian miller Says:

    huh how intriguing…i imagine the great weapon def was a symbol of his power…but also his tie to creation as well…ha…it is rather humorous though thinking of this great hero dragging his cock with him everywhere…smiles.

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  4. Laura Hegfield Says:

    busy boy!

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  5. ladynyo Says:

    Well, dragging his cock refers to Lug, God of Light.

    Cu Chulainn was a bit different. He was a powerful warrior in mythology.

    Funny though, when we do sonnets …it changes the poet’s voice. At least it does for me. I couldn’t have written this way in any other form. There is a transferance in sonnets…it’s just different with the abab…etc cycle. It throws you into a different speech pattern. At least for me.

    Sex was very much tied to power and creation. We have lost the inference of this with our modern myths. Too bad, because we also have lost our ties with some fundamental elements of existance….like how short life was and what a struggle to survive.

    Thanks, Brian for reading and your comment.

    Jane

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  6. ladynyo Says:

    Yes, Laura….busy BOYS…there were two of them…both occupying different places in the mythology.

    LOL…

    Jane…I think today we are very embarassed at the sexual/psychological inferences in these myths. This is mild, what I wrote. And what I wrote of Cu Chulainn was straight from mythology…with a little tinkering. That’s what I think poets should do…for their own poetical sake. Some of the original myths would make a cat blush.

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  7. ayala Says:

    Cool write, Jane. 🙂

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  8. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Ayala….I wrote this towards the end of writing “Devil’s Revenge”…which has three chapters under these sonnets on my blog…

    However, most people don’t know anything or much about Celtic mythology, certainly not around here, but people who have read Lady Gregory and Yeats do know of the various mythologies. So…I just ordered a couple of books from Amazon because it’s been years since I studied this incredible mythology.

    As I said, it’s not a mythology for many, except for poets like Hedgewitch (I really miss her and her incisive crits!) and a few others…but we all can learn stuff anew.

    Thank you, Ayala, for reading. I’ll be over tomorrow to your blog.

    Jane

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  9. M. J. Joachim Says:

    It’s an interesting tale, isn’t it?

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  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hi M.J… yes it is. People that don’t know anything about this mythology really are missing out on dramatic stories…Yes, it’s full of sexual/psychological stuff, but it’s the stuff of warrior nations.

    We tend to want our history and poetry easy I think. This stuff isn’t easy, and sonnets especially aren’t easy. There used to be people in these differnet poetry groups online that wrote sonnets, hell, taught them, but they don’t seem to be arond anymore. So it goes…but it’s rather depressing.

    Thanks for reading and your comment. These tales are packed with so much and so much varigating mythology and characters.

    Jane

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  11. bostonpoetry Says:

    Interested mythology here, I was unfamiliar. The whole cock-as-creation idea is intriguing but the connection seems obvious to me. Great work on the sonnet form! -Mike

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  12. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Mike. It seems that many poets aren’t familiar with this Celtic mythology, and they are missing a lot of material that could go into their own work. But…so it goes. I know little about Norse mythology, so I guess it’s pick and choose for most of us.

    Sonnets are hard to do, at least for me…but they do change the voice in the writing. I think this is important and obvious and a marker as to how a particular form develops our potential and our voices in poetry. No one has mentioned this at dversepoets, but then again, perhaps they don’t do sonnets. I find it impossible to write in sonnet form without this change.

    The issue of cock-as-creation is obvious, but why is a cock called a sword in mythology? It’s a weapon, pure and simple….so it’s a powerbased issue in mythology…and other places. I don’t think we can avoid this, and I don’t think those who developed the particular mythologies avoided this either. The Celtic mythologies were all about wars, battles, conflicts, etc….constantly. There is little peace. And….people aren’t reading these poems as separate poems…it’s LUG who drags his “club” over the landscape making mountains and valleys. Not Cu Chulainn. Also, depending upon the century, there are different descriptions of the ‘wrath’ (I can’t remember right now the Celtic war term…) of Cu Chulainn, and what it does to his body while in this wrath.

    Thanks for reading, Mike.

    Lady Nyo

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