Leaving him, I was a deer –

A shy thing, wild, fearful of shadows,

Wary of sudden sound or movement.

I healed myself in the green places,

Learned my own body as a thing

Of strength and speed and beauty.

I ran. Away, at first, running from fear,

Then into myself. I ran from weakness

Into something else. A sense of being –

Back into womanhood.

Another myth-based poem for Anmol at dVerse. Irish this time – Sadhbh, wife of Fionn MacCool. The story is that the great Fionn was out hunting, and started following a doe. His dogs wouldn’t harm her, and Fionn was intrigued. He took the doe home, where she changed into a beautiful girl, Sadhbh. She’d been transformed into a deer by an evil magician. Fionn wooed and married her. Some time later, he went off warring and raiding. He appeared back, and Sadhbh ran to greet him – in fact, it was the evil magician in disguise. Sadhbh was changed back into a deer. Fionn searched the forest for her, but never found her again.

It’s a typical Irish myth – not much explanation, and part of a larger myth cycle. It’s so sad. Poor Sadhbh hasn’t a huge amount of volition in it all, but I think there’s just enough space there to imagine her inner world, and her voice, and maybe there was some freedom in being a deer? Irish women were generally more empowered in early times than most European woment seem to have been.

This is a big explanation for quite a small poem. Sorry about that.

11 thoughts on “Deer

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