Caer Australis

Drunemton - The Grove

"On Calan Mai the mare cast a colt;
And at the door, an infant boy was found,
The son of gentle folk, hair yellow as gold;
The name given him was Gwri Golden-hair."

              - Teyrnon, Mabinogi of Pwyll Prince of Dyfed

summer oak - celebrating southern beltaine, our cet-samhin

Welcome to summertime in the Grove!

Beginning in May, with the feast of Beltaine, the Celtic summer is the happy half of the year

The literature bursts with enthusiasm for life.

The active part of the year of men is shown in relation to the busy world of nature in summer.

Songs of love, war and living - these are the songs amongst the summer oaks!

Summer has Come

Summer has come, healthy and free,
Whence the brown wood is aslope;
The slender nimble deer leap,
And the path of seals is smooth.

The cuckoo sings sweet music,
Whence there is smooth restful sleep;
Gentle birds leap upon the hill,
And swift grey stags.

Heat has laid hold of the rest of the deer-
The lovely cry of curly packs!
The white extent of the strand smiles,
There the swift sea is.

A sound of playful breezes in the tops
Of a black oakwood is Druim Daill,
The noble hornless herd runs,
To whom Cuan-wood is a shelter.

Green bursts out on every herb,
The top of the green oakwood is bushy,
Summer has come, winter has gone,
Twisted hollies wound the hound.

The blackbird sings a loud strain,
To him the live wood is a heritage,
The sad angry sea is fallen asleep,
The speckled salmon leaps.

The sun smiles over every land,
A parting for me from the brood of cares:
Hounds bark, stags tryst,
Ravens flourish, summer has come!

From: Kuno Meyer, Four Old-Irish Songs of Summer and Winter (London, 1903) reprinted from his Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry (London, 1911). Published in: Early Irish Literature by Myles Dillon (1948) p.159. 1972 reprint: University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London. see also: Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry - Kuno Meyer (1911;2007) return to summer menu

Here is the "tentative translation made by O'Donovan of a part of the first poem which Finn mac Cool is said to have composed after his eating of the salmon of knowledge", published by Douglas Hyde in his 1894 work, "The Story of Early Gaelic Literature" T.Fisher Unwin, Ltd. London. p.34:

"May-day, delightful time! How beautiful the colour! The blackbirds sing their full lay. Would that Laighay were here! The cuckoos sing in constant strains. How welcome is ever the noble brilliance of the seasons! On the margin of the branching woods the summer swallows skim the stream. The swift horses seek the pool. The heath spreads out its long hair. The weak fair bog-down grows. Sudden consternation attacks the signs; the planets, in their courses running exert and influence; the sea is lulled to rest; flowers cover the earth."

It is important to note the mention of "swift horses" in this Beltaine song, for at the birth of Gwri (Pryderi) in the Mabinogion, and at the birth of Cú Chulaind in the now lost Book of Druimm Snechtai, colts are born together with these heroes at Beltaine.


In the Celtic Fire Feasts area, read more on Beltaine

Arrival of the Giolla Dacker

One day in the beginning of summer, Finn the son of Cumhal feasted the chief people of Erin at Allen of the broad hill-slopes. And when the feast was over, the Fena reminded him it was time to give chase throught the plains and the glens and the wilderness of Erin.

For this was the manner in which the Fena used to spend their time.  They divided the year into two parts. During the first half, namely, from Bealtaine [the first of May] to Samhain [the first of November], they hunted each day with their dogs; and during the second half, namely from Samhain to Bealtaine, they lived in the mansions and the betas [the houses of public hospitality] of Erin; so that there was not a chief or a great lord or a keeper of a house of hospitality in the whole country that had not nine of the Fena quartered on him during the winter half of the year.

From: The 16th Century Irish tale Tóraigheacht an Ghiolla Dheacair: The Pursuit of the Giolla Dacker and his Horse In: Old Celtic Romances PW Joyce (1907: republished 2000 and also published on-line). Wordsworth Editions Ltd in association with FLS Books, The Folklore Society, p. 173. return to summer menu


White with a purity
of clover blossom sweet
heavy with the light of dewdrops
she is there in three leaf clarity
in a single flower head
or a vast white track.

Daughter of the ages
White Clover Renewing again
Delight of the eye
Lover of kings
they who called her Isis never knew her as well
as the one born in a pig run.

by John Bonsing July 2007
return to summer menu

A Green Bough on my Door

How bright now are the mornings,
With blue and crystal skies,
The sun, he is now boastful:
High and deft and early to rise!

The magpie swoops,
He's guarding the nest -
Eggs are laid
No time to rest!

Flowers bloom in colours bright,
A kiss of the Goddess fair,
And oak and birch and eucalypt
Put on their fresh green hair.

Now Calan Haf, Now Beltaine,
Has come to this fair land,
The colt is born this magic morn:
God lifts his Summer hand.

By John Bonsing - Summer 2004
return to summer menu


              The ancient oaktree percieves the sky
              Is brighter and lighter
              And slumber is over
              Budding bursts forth
              Again the green leafy fineness

              Brilliant greeness irridescent
              A catch of the sun
              Bright to see
              Light to feel to touch the skin
              And the eye delights in brightness

              A name for this perception of sky
              Bright light lucky time
              Delightful awakening
              Fire of gold warmth reborn
              Streaming swiftness and green

              By John Bonsing - November Eve 2006
                   return to summer menu

The May Fly

Rising from the waters
Like a cluster of stars in May
He was with them:
With the Mayflies: -

Entering her body
Like the wine in her goblet in May
He was with her:Mayfly
With the Maiden: -

Born from her waters
Like the River of Life in May
He was with us:
In the world of Men: -

By John Bonsing Oct 2005
return to summer menu

Summer is the warring season, amongst Celt as much as of the Celtic World's conquerers. The following work by Ragnarok reflects upon this:

A Rose by Another Name

There once was a maiden who danced on the way,
as fair as the Summer sun on Midsummer's day.
Her food was the birdsong that played where she ran
and her mead was the dew-drops that covered the land.
Her cloak, it was coloured the emerald green,
and her crown was the sunlight on gold flowing streams.
Her love was as wide as the eagles did roam
and her heart was the hearth fire that all men called home.

But a new king arose in a foreign land;
Who sought to rule the whole world by his conquering hand.
Such power and glory he spread in his seed,
yet a rose in a cornfield is always a weed.
In lust for a new life men abandoned their own,
and their swords were the plough by which good seed was sown.
Alone sat the maiden, such teardrops she cried
as she buried her children along with her pride.

Now her green cloak they've taken and covered with grey,
for it's ripped and it's torn and it's splattered with clay.
Her crown it lays tarnished from poisons they've spilled,
laid her open wide, let each map take his fill.
Yet she longs for the day when she'd once more be free,
when those that torment her return cross the sea,
or burn in the fires oft foretold of old,
for she'll dance on their ashes afore they're ere cold.

by© RAGNAROK (UK) LYRICS: To Mend The Oaken Heart (1997)
return to summer menu

May eve is when Rhiannon and Pwyll met upon Arberth Hill, five years before the birth of their son, who came to be the hero Pryderi. Inspired by their meeting, the following song appears on the self-titled CD by Carrl Myriad ©2000

Arberth Hill

The feasting was all over, the company well-fed.
Rising to address the Court, the Lord of Dyfed said,
"Come with me my Chieftans, the evening's soft and still.
Come with me and walk a while, we'll climb upon yon hill."

A man who was attending there turned to his lord to say,
"Lord, Arberth Hill's a fairy mound.  It weaves its spell this way.
If a lord should climb upon that hill, as you would do this night,
He shall receive a mortal blow, or see a wonderous sight."

"A mortal blow I'll not receive for I'm in fine company.
So who would see a wond'rous sight, to Arberth Hill with me."
Upon the top of Arberth Hill they sat to rest a while.
Far accross the country they could see for many a mile.

Slowly slowly down the road, upon a ghost grey steed,
Came the finest lady Lord Pwyll had ever seen.
Shining, shining like the sun in pale silk and brocade,
She came all alone, no retinue or maid.

"Who is this lady fine and fair rides to my land this day?
Will someone not go forth for me, my greetings to relay."
Up then jumped a galant lad, he was young and swift and fair.
Down the hill, onto the plain, he hoped to meet her there.

Swiftly, swiftly did he run, his feet they fairly flew.
Slowly, slowly rode the lady, yet far ahead she drew.
"Send a man back to the Court, send him with great speed.
We need a horse and rider here, select a good swift steed."

Horse and rider they set off, accross the plain they flew.
Tho' the lady's ghost grey did but walk, out of sight she drew.
"Come my Chieftains to the Court, for long and long this night.
I must ponder on the meaning, of this wond'rous sight."

The next day when the feast was done the lord spoke to his men,
"Come my Chieftains, come with me to Arberth Hill again."
And turning to his stable boy, said, "Lad pray hear my will.
Bring the fastest horse you have and come to Arberth Hill."

And they sat upon the mound as they had the day before
with horse and rider ready there the lady came once more.
Shining, shining like the sun, upon a ghost grey steed
She was the finest lady Lord Pwyll had ever seen.

The lords lad mounted swiftly, down the hill he sped.
The faster that he spurred his horse, the more she drew ahead.
At first he though he'd catch her within a bound or two,
but soon his mount was winded, and she disappeared from view.

"Come my Chieftians, come with me and to the Court return.
There is some hidden message here its meaning I must learn.
"Who is this lady fine and fair?  What is her errand here?
Why forever passing by but never drawing near?"

The next day passed slowly, and restless was the lord.
As the evening shadows fell, he's from the Court once more.
He's away with saddle and with spur, out accross the plain,
To wait with his own stallion on Arberth Hill again.

In pale silk and fine brocade, upon a ghost grey steed
Came the finest lady Lord Pwyll had ever seen.
She is passing by the hill, still at the same slow pace.
The lord is up upon his horse and given her full chase.

At first he thought he'd catch her, within a bound or two
But tho' his horse was fiery fast, far ahead she drew.
He knew he could not catch her and his heart it was full sore.
He knew that if he lost her now he'd never see her more.

"Lady, lady for the sake of the one you love the best
Will you only stop a while so we can talk and rest?"
As soon as he had spoken, they ceased their ride.
In the evening shadows she was right there by his side.

"Better far would it have been Sir, for your horse and you
If you had only spoken when I first rode into view.
But gladly, gladly will I stay, it's gladly that I will
For it is to speak with you I ride by Arberth Hill."

"Welcome lady to my lands, its glad I am you came
But yell me of your errand here and pray tell me your name."
"I am from the far land of King Heveydd the Old
And I am his daughter, Rhiannon I am called.

"I am promised to a man, tho' all against my will
For husband I have never sought, I vowed I never will.
For I have loved you long and long, though we have never met
That is why I ride this way, for I love you yet

"Unless you should refuse me now, no other shall I seek.
For your answer I have come, lord let me hear you speak."
"Lady on yon Arberth Hill there grows an alder tree.
And as the sun brings life to it so you have shone on me.

"Truly, truly do I give, this day to you my heart.
If I have my fondest wish, we never more shall part."
To each other they did pledge and soflty did they kiss
And together they're away into the twilight mist.

By Carrl Myriad - 2000
return to summer menu

     "Grows an oak upon a steep,
       The sanctuary of a fair lord;
       If I speak not falsely,
       Lleu will come into my lap"

              - Gwydion, Mabinogi of Math ap Mathonwy

     Summer in the Grove

     Featuring the works:
     Summer Has Come
     The Salmon of Knowledge
     Arrival of the Giolla Dacker
     Song of Summer
     Mac ríg
     The Yellow Bee
     A Rose by Another Name
     Arberth Hill

     Original works:
     Green Bough
     The Mayfly
     Y Ddraig Goch
     The Little Prince

     Other places in the Grove:
     Welcome to the Grove
     Winter in the Grove
     Saints in the Grove
     Goddesses in the Grove
     Rowan Berries in the Grove

     For articles on Celtic History and Myth, see the Gorsedd

                            CÉTEMAIN, cain cucht,
                            rée rosaír rann;

                            canait luin laíd laín
                            día laí grían gaí ngann.

                            Garaid cuí chrúaid den;
                            is fo-chen sam saír:
                            suidid síne serb
                            i mbi cerb caill chraíb.

                            Cerbaid sam súaill sruth;
                            saigid graig lúath linn;
                            lethaid fota fraích;
                            for-beir folt fann finn.

                            Fúapair sceith scell scíach;
                            im-reith réid rían rith;
                            cuirithir sál súan;
                            tuigithir bláth bith.

                            Berait beich (bec nert)
                            bert bonn bochtai bláith;
                            berid slabrai slíab:
                            feraid saidbir sáith.

                            Seinnid caille céol;
                            con-greinn séol síd slán;
                            síatair denn do dinn,
                            dé do loch linn lán.

From: "Early Irish Lyrics. Eighth to Twelfth Century. Edited with translation, notes and glossary" by Gerard Murphy (1956:1970 reprint) Clarendon Press, Oxford. pp. 156-157. #52. May-Day: This is the 'Song of Summer', pronounced by Finn at Beltaine when he ate of the Salmon of Knowledge and learnt the three arts which establish a poet in his prerogative, namely teinm láeda (prophetic marrow chewing) and imus for-osna (divination which illuminates) and díchetal di chennaib (incantation from heads). return to summer menu

Song of Summer

Summer-time, season supreme!
Splendid is colour then.
Blackbirds sing a full lay
If there be a slender shaft of day.

The dust-coloured cuckoo calls aloud:
Welcome, splendid summer!
The bitterness of bad weather is past,
The boughs of the wood are a thicket.

Panic startles the heart of the deer,
The smooth sea runs apace -
Season when ocean sinks asleep,
Blossom covers the world.

Bees with puny strength carry
A goodly burden, the harvest of blossoms;
Up the mountain-side kine take with them mud,
The ant makes a rich meal.

The harp of the forest sounds music,
The sail-gathers - perfect peace;
Colour has settled on every height,
Haze on the lake of full waters.

The corncrake, a strenuous bird, discourses,
The lofty cold waterfall sings
A welcome to the warm pool -
The talk of the rushes has come.

Light swallows dart aloft,
Loud melody encircles the hill,
The soft rich mast buds,
The stuttering quagmire prattles.

The peat-bog is as the raven's coat,
The loud cuckoo bids welcome,
The speckled fish leaps -
Strong is the bound of the swift warrior.

Man flourishes, the maiden buds
In her fair strong pride.
Perfect each forest from top to ground,
Perfect each great stately plain.

Delightful is the season's splendour,
Rough winter has gone:
Every fruitful wood shines white,
A joyous peace is summer.

A flock of birds settles
In the midst of meadows,
The green field rustles,
Wherein is a brawling white stream.

A wild longing is on you to race horses,
The ranked host is ranged around:
A bright shaft has been shot into the land,
So that the water-flag is gold beneath it.

A timorous, tiny, persistent little fellow
Sings at the top of his voice,
The lark sings clear tidings:
Surpassing summer-time of delicate hues!

Kuno Meyer, Four Old-Irish Songs of Summer and Winter (London, 1903)
Reprinted in Early Irish Literature by Myles Dillon (1948:1972 reprint) p.159. Uni Chicago Press
using the English version reprinted in Kuno Meyer, Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry (London, 1911). see also: Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry - Kuno Meyer (1911;2007) return to summer menu

Mac ríg
The son of the king of the Moy in midsummer
found a girl in the green wood:
she gave him black fruit from thorn-bushes,
she gave an armful of strawberries on rushes.

The Yellow Bee
Nimble is the yellow bee from cup to cup,
he makes a great journey in the sun,
boldly he flits into the wide plain,
then safely joins his brethren in the hive.

Both poems from: Early Irish Literature by Myles Dillon (1948:1972 reprint) p.155. Uni Chicago Press. return to summer menu

                    Y Ddraig Goch

                    The warrior's heart
                    The poet's soul
                    The farmer's hands
                    The lawkeepers goal

                    The forgefire's heat
                    The slake of the stream
                    The thunder of the skies
                    The damp soil beneath

                    The Moon of night
                       the Lady of Shadows
                    The Sun of day
                       the Lord of Might
                    The Water of being
                       The Giver of Life
                    The Rock of eternity
                       The Endless Being

                                        By S Rhys Jones - 2007
                                                     return to summer menu

The Little Prince

Y pendefigion bychanigyn,
the little prince,
is on his guard today!The Little Prince

Not lark, nor sparrow,
nor even crow,
have the words to enter his wagtail lay.

By J Bonsing - Spring 2005
return to summer menu

Dafydd ap Gwilym: Mis Mai - May

Dafydd ap Gwilym fl. mid-fourteenth century
From: The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. 1.Medieval Literature, Part Two: The European Inheritance.
Boris Ford (ed) (1983) p.541. Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England
Transl. Patrick Sims-Williams.

God knew how fitting
the tender start of the growth of May would be.
Unfailing green shoots put forth
on the first of the gentle pure month of May.
Untrembling tree-tops detain me;
great God gave May yesterday.
The poets' treasure did not decieve me;
May's coming was a blessing to me.

A fine handsome youth rewarded me;
May is a generous, open-handed prince.
He sent me true coins:
clean green leaves of May's gentle hazels.
Twigs' florins don't disappoint me,
May's fleur-de-lis wealth.
He kept me safe from treachery
under the wings of leaves of the cloaks of May.

I'm brimming with anger that May would not
stay for ever. What is it to me? -
I tamed a girl who greeted me,
a tender lady, under May's chancel.
May, who honoured me, is the foster father
of fine poets and gentle lovers.
Great is the dignity of bright green May,
godson of the Immaculate Lord.
From heaven came he who fitted me
for the world; May is my life.

Green was the hillside, happy was the love-messenger,
long was the day in the greenwoods of May.
Greenish, unhidden, were
the spurs and twigs of May's brushwood.
Short was the night, a journey no burden,
handsome were the hawks and blackbirds of May.
Happy was the nightingale where she dwelt,
voluble were May's little birds.
Quick was the vigour that he taught me;
there is no great glory save May.
Which of a thousand green-winged town-house peacocks
is better than May? May is the best.
Who would build one out of leaves
in a month but May?
A green wall would rear it up,
May's bright, little-leaved green hazels.

Winter is puddle-pitted, best
done with; May is kindest.
When Spring ended, I cared not;
May's golden wealth is purest gold.
The beginning of full Summer scattered him,
whom tears had nourished; May is faultless.

Green-barked hazels' leaves clothed me;
the coming of May is a blessing for me.
God and Mary decided wisely and steadfastly
to uphold May.

Visit Dafydd ap Gwilym .net:
Read the Cymraeg of this poem, number 32 'Mis Mai'.
return to summer menu

Dafydd ap Gwilym: Yr Haf - Summer

Dafydd ap Gwilym fl. mid-fourteenth century
From: The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. 1.Medieval Literature, Part Two: The European Inheritance.
Boris Ford (ed) (1983) p.542. Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England
Transl. Patrick Sims-Williams.

Alas for us, Adam's frail race,
for the shortness of summer - a flash-flood of blessings.
By God, in truth, because it must end,
the coming of summer is painful,
though its gentle sky is so clear
with a joyful sun colouring it in summer,
and the air is still and calm,
and the world is lovely in summer.

A very good crop, unblemished flesh,
comes from the old earth in summer;
summer was given to grow leaves on trees
and turn them the fairest green.
I laugh, seeing such lovely
hair on a sprightly summer birch;
who does not laugh when it's summer,
the paradise to which I sing?
I praise it very diligently
in fitting style - ah, what a gift summer is!

Under branches I love one twice as fair
as foam; and her rashness is summer.
The amorous cuckoo sings, if I ask,
at the beginning of the summer sun,
and the fine grey bird I licence
as vesper bell for midsummer.
The pretty nightingale's fluent voice
is robust and proud beneath summer's penthouse.
The cock-thrush with its merry summer chatter is here
- while I flee from strife.
Ovid's man, on the loveliest long day,
pays court to summer with proud speech;
but old Jealous, Adam's bastard,
does not care if summer has come.
Winter was given for people of his age;
summer is the lovers' share.

Under birches in the copse's houses
I only want summer's cloaks -
to don a fine web,
a gleaming surcoat of summer's fair hair.
I unravel ivy leaves;
summer's long day is never cold.
If I greet a gentle girl,
I protect her cheerfully on a summer slope!

Song is no use - coldest omen -
summer's bard is banned;
wind does not leave; I put on clothes;
the trees are full blown. Summer has gone!
There's a shameless longing
in my breast for summer's weather.

When autumn comes, with snow and ice,
to drive out summer, winter's here.
'Alas, Christ,' I ask,
'if it makes off so soon, where is summer?'

Visit Dafydd ap Gwilym .net:
Read the Cymraeg of this poem, number 34 'Yr Haf'.
return to summer menu

Original work and design © Caer Australis 2011: From Coogee in Sydney's eastern beaches NSW Australia