A Poet’s Becoming, Fionn’s Gift Across Time

by Thomas Davis

Fionn, son of Mairne, a Chief Druid’s daughter, was instructed by the Druid…to cook for him a salmon fished for a deep pool…and forbidden to taste it; but as Fionn was turning the fish over in the pan he burned his thumb, which he put into his mouth and so received the gift of inspiration. For the salmon was a salmon of knowledge, that had fed on nuts fallen from the nine hazels of poetic art. Robert Graves, The White Goddess. 1966 (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), p. 75.
Upon the dark dolomite jutting
Shoreline out into lake waters,
Brooding, the poet pondered, rising
Vapors misting white where otters
Often twisted brown bodies in brightness
During days of lithesome lightness.
Longing to discover poetry’s essence,
Plunging into intensifying agony,
Its agitated angst and strange candescence,
Searching for wisps of hope, honey
Spirited into hazel nuts fallen
Into waters fused with wisdom’s pollen,
Praying, the poet chanted phrases
Empty of meaning, madness exploding
Dystopian dreams into glazes
Filming stratums in mist, imploding
Into a dance of time: Land distinct,
Shrouding tales of peoples long extinct.
Milky mist rose from the waters.
Paddling in a coracle, Fionn,
Singing softly as sleek otters,
Angled after salmon in an eon
Ever-ending, inspiration
Infusing words into desperation.
Dancing in the poet’s pounding
Heartbeat, language’s lilting incantation
Metamorphosed landscapes, people’s living,
Into a singing suffusion of creation:
Fionn spanning time and continents,
Salmon swimming past despair to resonance.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

8 responses to “A Poet’s Becoming, Fionn’s Gift Across Time

  1. Thomas, interesting that the last word in the poem is “resonance”, as every line made me resonate with the poet’s longing to find the essence of poetry. There is that indefinable need to write, while battling the “angst” and the “agony” – something we can’t quite put our fingers on, (the ineffable?) but trying again and again, poem after poem, to find the inspiration and clearly express it. You’ve really done this with your poem, (master-crafted, as always) and I love the story of Fionn’s gift! (And coincidentally I’m having salmon for dinner….) Thank you for this one – I’d like to print it out.

    • I really need to work on this more, I’m afraid. It still hasn’t achieved what I set out to achieve, but I’m glad you think it is better than I sense it is. I always value your judgments, Betty.

  2. As I mentioned in my reply to your comment on ‘Phoebe and Me’, there is synchronicity at work. As soon as I saw your poem I was drawn in as one of our Irish grandchildren is named Fionn.

    Such a fascinating story Tom and written, as ever, in your inimitable style. I would like a taste of that salmon, but alas it is not to be as I am vegetarian. 😊 I will have to keep looking for inspiration elsewhere!

  3. They just don’t write them like this any more. Epic, majestic, hallucinogenic. I find myself wondering what you had in mind to express beyond what you have already achieved here. A also wonder if we shall get to read it some day. Meantime I am well satisfied with this version.

  4. I think our sensibilities probably overlap to some degree. I eventually completed that dragon-related I was working on and posted it on WordPress a couple of months back. I have also included it in my contribution to this year’s annual publication from our local poetry group.

    • I want to read the “dragon-related” Ben. I’ve been on a work jag that is a nightmare for way too long. I’ve got to get the university to stop depending on me so much. Doing good long distance is just too difficult. Can you send me a link? I’ll try to work through your blog too this weekend, hopefully.

      • I will enclose a link to the dragon sonnet in the e-mail I have owed you for far too long. 😳 That will boot it to the top of the ever-expanding “to do” list.

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