It is said that the first poem ever written was a hymn to Inanna by one of her priestesses, an auspicious beginning to the art of poetry indeed. Yet, I find that when I go to write poems using traditional forms and rules I learned in school, something is missing, or maybe something feels wrong. They don’t reflect the way I think of the world, especially those insights from ancient goddess traditions that I have found so meaningful.
Poetry-writing should be something that everyone enjoys and finds can express their deepest selves. Maybe it’s time to throw out some of those old rules and ways of thinking about poetry and come up with a new form. To that end, I offer up a new form of poetry – the Brigid poem. The Brigid Poem is a form of poetry that I just made up but that you can use if you wish, since sometimes having a structure can help get creativity flowing, as writers of haiku can attest. I call them Brigid Poems only because Brigid is the Goddess of poetry in the Celtic tradition, which is my heritage. You can call your forms of poetry, or novels, or stories, whatever you like and make them however you like.
A Brigid Poem has three sections that flow in an endless cycle with the last stanza relating to the first in a life/death/rebirth kind of relationship. “Every story/novel/poem needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end,” was the first rule we all learned about composition. Simple enough, except that that isn’t how reality works. Real life as I observe it has cycles of beginnings, middles, ends, and rebirths. Nothing stops and dissolves into nothingness; everything was always something else and is always reborn, whether it is the day or year, or life cycle of our bodies moving through the elements, or anything else. We see this truth in many goddess traditions. The triple goddesses of birth, death, and rebirth are symbolic of the lives of humans, planets, and galaxies that may be born, live, and die in one form, but then are reborn into something else. Changing Woman is another story of constant, cyclic change.
The movement of the content of a Brigid Poem comes from the natural flux of life’s changes on many levels and expresses expansion and openness. How many times have you heard in English class that every story, or novel, or poem needs a “conflict”? Why? Is conflict the only way that life moves ahead or problems resolve? If we look at nature, it is cooperation, symbiosis, and caring among and within species that makes life possible. A much better guideline for how to move a realistic piece of narrative along is “Everything changes” (or even “Everything She touches changes”). Transformation is how real life moves from one state to another. Inanna’s story reflects this in her transformation through her journey. Ostara’s turning the bird into a rabbit to save its life is one of both compassion and transformation. Stories and poems of integration, of deepening and learning compassion, of making whole, are much harder to write, but oh so much better for those who experience them as they seek to learn to live better lives.
That’s pretty much it in terms of guidelines, the rest is up to you when you write your poem, in honor of the wild woman creativity we can all bring to poetry-writing.
Here is a Brigid Poem as an illustration:
The Delphyne Dreams
*Delphynes were the women who would breathe in the fumes at the Oracle of Delphi and make prophecies that had to be interpreted by priests and frequently related to battles, emperors, and other such subjects.
In times past, the Earth whispered to me in a voice both plain and strong
Tidings of such succulent truths could only be held close,
Silently, spoken to myself,
While I uttered gibberish about play-acted battles and reigns
To emperors and priests whose treasures
Never reflected the gold of the sunset.
Over the millennia, my body has been reborn
As soil, sky, water, over and over. I am now Earth
And it is my turn to breathe oracles into your ears.
Do you hear what I am saying, women of the world, my daughters,
Now that what could only be hidden before must now be spoken?
All the unstoppable morning glory blossoms,
Snowflakes in flight, and watery glaciers, goring bulls
And suckling cubs are my sacred prophecies of joy,
But also my desperate pleas as my body becomes
A place where my creations can no longer find succor.
Not emperors, not priests, not only high-born queens do I call.
Every human woman is my beloved delphyne. I created
You to hear and heal my cries of the world.
Poetry, writing, and all art are just one way that we are bound by ways of thinking that are so ingrained that we no longer realize that sometimes what we take as truth are really assumptions about the world that no longer serve us. Whether it is ideas about success, about who we should be and what makes life meaningful, about power and how decisions should be made and by whom or just about anything else, perhaps real change can only come by rebuilding our thought processes the same way we can reform how we write poems to better reflect the world as we see it and would like it to be in the future.
What new ways of thinking can you make come into being through your words or pictures or songs or dances?