Arthurian and Grail Poetry

Merlyn’s First Prophesy
by Michael Burch

Vortigern
commanded a tower
to be built upon Snowden,
but the earth would churn
and within an hour
its walls would cave in.

Then his Druid said
that only the blood
of a fatherless son,
recently shed,
would ever hold
the foundation.

“There is, in Caer Myrrdin,
a faery lad,
a son with no father;
his name is Merlyn,
and with his blood
you would have your tower.”

So Vortigern
had them bring the boy
of the succubus demon,
and, taciturn
and without joy,
looked out over Snowden.

“To kill a child
brings little praise,
but many tears.”
Then the mountain wild
rang with the brays
of Merlyn’s jeers.

“Pure poppycock!
You fumble and bumble,
and heed a fool.
At the base of the rock
the foundations crumble
into a pool!”

When they drained the pool,
two dragons arose,
one white and one red,
and since the fool
was blowing his nose,
young Merlyn said:

“Vortigern is the white,
Ambrosius the red;
now, watch, indeed.”
Then the former died
as the latter fed
and Vortigern peed.

Notes: This poem describes the child Merlyn’s first prophesy. Vortigern was a king who had supplanted Ambrosius, the son of Constantine, the High King of Britain. This Constantine may have been the Roman Emperor Constantine III, a common soldier who was made emperor by the Roman legions based in Britain. After Constantine’s death, Vortigern made Constans, a son of Constantine who had formerly been a monk, the new king. Later, Vortigern had Constans assassinated by Picts. To protect himself from the vengeance of Ambrosius, Vortigern was trying to build a tower on Mount Snowden in Wales. Ambrosius was also known as Ambrosius Aurelius or Ambrosius Aurelianus.

©Copyright by Michael Burch With Permission Kindly Provided for the Celtic Twilight