Taliessin’s dream of the Holy Rood
Taliessin dreamed of the Holy Rood.
Over the rough Roman water, water and blood
That once poured from the Saviour’s side
Gathered again in the Holy Cup
At the mass; in the last days
of the frigid winter, the king’s poet
once again commanded the king’s horse
riding over the Wall to the North
where the uncouth hordes, untouched
by the civilizing grace of the City
or the Cup, burned and harried. Woe betide,
The king called upon his master of song
to call the tune as he once had done
on Mount Badon; but Taliessin’s thoughts
Were lost east, further even than
the Byzantine glory of the City’s streets,
so far, even the dreams of the Emperor’s daughter
did not reach the object of his imaginings.
The droughts and chances of life at his disarray
and the Holy Rood encompassed all–
planted at the very place where
the first father and first mother had fallen
to Death’s icy pall, and from death to life
all had called; adored with every glory
the Healer’s tree there stood
glorious in its rough humility.
Taliessin stood, and bowed, and accepted the command.
The hand most accustomed to the harp
Picked up spear and sword and shield
And would not yield to the oncoming storm.
Taliessin blew the warrior’s horn
And dreamed still of the Holy Rood.