Beltane and the Poet

Beltane or May Day is an ancient tradition, the end of winter  and the day Persephone emerges from Hades’ or Pluto’s dark underworld  to bring colour and joy back to the earth. Through the centuries people lit huge bonfires on the evening of April 30th and danced, and sang, and told stories.  The festivities continue on May Day or Beltane and the belief is that all  fairies, sidhe, and elemental spirits are present among the mortals in this celebration of homage to Mother Nature and the earth. It is an important message in today’s world

night ladyjpg
persephone emerges
in clover
renewal2
Magnolia heart

I would like to pay homage today to  a professor and poet who celebrated the solstices and seasons and the magic of nature.  After moving from England  to  Vancouver Island in 1963 he taught English and creative writing at the University of Victoria for many years, specializing in Irish literature. His name was Robin Skelton (1925-1997) and he was both brilliant and eccentric. He was a self proclaimed Wiccan and like Gandalf wandered through the streets and parks of Victoria, wearing a long windy cape and carrying a staff.  He had a stream of white hair and magical rings on every finger of his hands. He often traveled with an entourage and their coffeehouse conversations were immensely entertaining.  They  always attracted both curious onlookers and literary fans alike. He mentored many young artists and poets of the day. He was truly a wizard of words and a wise man of spirit.  He was also a ghost buster and was called to  many of Victoria’s haunted realms to rid people of pesky spirits or to help  come to respectful terms with them. He documented his experiences in a book  called “A Gathering of Ghosts.”
Robin Skelton was the recipient of many literary awards and was Canada’s unofficial Poet Laureate.

In these days of social distancing and solitude our longings really break open our hearts like windows.  Nostalgia  surges  like curtains in a gust of air  and each pulse of our heart is a place or person missed and remembered and a desire to be with those we love, and so I present this beautiful piece by Skelton called  Westfield Lane.

poet Robin Skelton

Westfield Lane, a green switchback
humping and scooping towards the wild
flat of the land north of the dyke
by Marsh Cottage; remembering that,
and, clearly, the saddle’s jolt, the spin
of the blurred spokes, and the meshed ruts
tangled at gateways, remembering too
blue sky and boyhood, I begin
counting days back; an abacus
of worlds clicks on my natal string

five, ten, fifteen years back
till Westfield Lane, a scoop and climb
of green between the swaying fields
propels me down into the slack
lands round the deserted house;
dark in this brightest day, it looms
cold and decrepit. The door yawns
at a garden scrawled with a few trees
flayed by salt winds. Just beyond,
the rank dyke threatens the last field,

and beyond that an eight-mile waste
of grey water stirs and waits.
Looking back at Westfield Lane
the eye has altered, the light passed.
The house echoes. I mount and ride
the other road, by graveyard and stack,
home through the silent village square,
chilled and listening. That track
led me too far into my need,
and yet a new need drags me back


among his books are “The Shapes of our Singing”, “Spellcraft”, and “Fires of the Kindred”

wizard
the wizard

a bit of musical nostalgia?  The Wizard  –(circa 70s)  by Uriah Heep
-thank you Paul G.

38 Comments Add yours

  1. Robin reminds me very much of a dear family friend of mine who passed away this year. Right down to the white beard, professor background, cloak and family friends following, talking, thinking with an all knowing joyous gleam in his eyes…. This is a great blog post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so glad you enjoyed it. As you can see I’ve been very sporadic on my blog as my latest summer post was three months after that one lol!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Don’t worry about it…. It’s all about what inspires you and if you are not inspired then don’t post 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. milliethom says:

    I’m a little late to wish you Happy Beltane, Cybele, but I really enjoyed reading your post, especially your excellent piece about Robin Skelton. I knew little about him and now I can discuss him with my two daughters. I really love his poem and his beautifully expressed nostalgic thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes he was an amazing character and person Millie. So glad you enjoyed!

      Like

  3. Cycbele it’s sheldon
    How are you doing
    Hope we can connect
    As always sheldon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sheldon it’s good to hear from you although I cannot find you online right now. Your site is not up yet? Hope all is well.

      Like

  4. Willow says:

    Happy Beltane! One thing good about this virus is it has caused me to move my celebrations and other magick online so I’ve built a sacred space in Second Life. Beltane was the first big time I really used it.

    Such lovely images as usual!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. hey, Willow good to hear from you!! send a link!!

      Like

  5. A lovely tribute Cybele. I have come across Robin’s writings before in the pagan context.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. disperser says:

    Saw the photos on Flickr and just now read the post. Nice tribute.

    I even liked the poem (not much for poetry, am I) and remembered the song.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Emilio!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That was a great poem! I had to read it a second time just to get all of those “k” sounds again! Also, I read several works by J.M. Synge last year and now I will have to go see what Skelton has to say about them! Thanks for the introduction to Skelton, Cybele!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so glad you enjoyed!!!

      Like

  8. Adrian Lewis says:

    Beautiful, my friend. I used to have Pagan beliefs and so can identify with this very much – a wonderful post. Adrian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. many thanks Adrian!! I enjoyed writing it. I have a mixture of beliefs myself!! 🙂

      Like

  9. The little video of fairies rising is lovely, and the poem is thought-provoking.
    We’ve all walked down that road at least once I’m thinking.

    I’ve never heard of this poet. I’ll have to read more of his work.

    Stay well and happy Spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes we have and as we get older and especially during times like these I seem to feel more nostalgic. He is a wonderful writer Deb!! You stay well too!! Love your sky images. May we all look up! Sadly I’m in a more woodland tree area and it’s harder to lug stuff up to the top of the hill to get those kind of clear view shots!! Keep them coming!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Morning! Lovely photos as always. Robin Skelton sounds like quite the character! You’re right about nostalgia — Uriah Heep. I probably haven’t thought about him or heard his music since the 70s! And I remember as a little kid loving the nectar of purple clover; fresh picked, of course! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh I do remember him and yes. Victoria is full of eccentrics by the way. Skelton was a brilliant writer. Hey I love finding old rock and folk music!! Uriah Heep are still playing! That wizard piece by them I heard on another’s FB page so I thought perfect!! Glad you enjoyed Linda. Hope you are keeping well and safe my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Suzanne says:

    Beautiful imagery as always. I love your story of the professor. The world needs more people like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You think!!!! I so agree! Thank you dear Suzanne!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. paula graham says:

    This post , one of your best, struck a chord with me , just having watched on TV Richard Wagner’s epic opera ‘Lohengrin’ streaming it from the Met NY. Stunning, stunning , all of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m honoured Paula!! Thank you so much!!

      Like

  13. I always love to read you writing’s Cybele, you bring history from the past to life in our age. Plus another writer for me to research.
    The area where i go walking every morning is on the side of Slieve Croob. This link will tell a little of it’s pass.
    https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/life/weekend/view-from-slieve-croob-really-is-summit-special-28619246.html

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so good to hear from you. Thank you and yes! Skelton is a wonderful writer!! his poems are reminiscent of Dylan Thomas to me. Keep those wonderful images coming so I can dream! Thank you for the link!!

      Like

  14. AWWW. Lovely my friend and what a great piece of poetry. Love it. Happy 1st, oh sister of the spirit. sharer of the open heart xxxxxxxxxx

    Like

    1. you sweet lass!!! friend of mine! So glad you enjoyed Skelton!!! Stay well!!

      Like

  15. Sherry Felix says:

    P. S. The homage moving image is fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yayy Thank you!!

      Like

  16. Sherry Felix says:

    It’s been an age since I heard the name of Skelton. Love the poem. And you post. Made my day. I’m up at 4am – getting restless. I miss being able to travel to the park.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh I’m missing family and friends now!! but I’m pleased you have heard of Robin Skelton!! Thank you Sherry and stay well!

      Like

  17. Jeb says:

    Never heard of Robin Skelton. Made my eyes light up, I recognize what I suspect would have been his teaching method (to experience rather than instruct). Its very familiar.

    Its how I was taught to speak verse (to really see it)

    Skekton’s poem moves effortlessly from the page to the breath. Gorgeous.

    Thanks! Made my day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy to read your response to Skelton Jeb!! Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jeb says:

        P.s. Was not just a response to Skelton. Images + clear demonstration of craft = Gorgeous.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. that is so kind of you, I’m honoured!!!!

        Like

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