So, despite the title, "Winter" is about spring ... sort of. Symbolically. The poem uses the idea, common to Irish folklore, that it is possible for humans to pass into the Faerie realm but, in doing so, they tend to discover, upon their return, that what they thought was a single day of celebration was, in fact, many years in their own world's time. The form of the poem is a sestina. Sestinas are a medieval form--12th-century French, to be exact--but in no way early Irish. However, since Eithne's culture is pre-literate, we have little idea of what verse forms she would have used. Perhaps she would have used a form with end-word repetition! The form was chosen for artistic reasons because of its relevance to the theme of the poem. The sestina contains six six-line units, each line with an end word that is repeated in a pattern throughout the poem, and a closing tercet that includes all six end words. Traditionally, each line of a sestina contains six iambs; I kept the twelve syllables per line but chose not to adhere to any metrical conventions since it did not fit the mood I wished to convey in the poem.
As always, comments and feedback are welcome! :)
When the cold gray sea is rolling on, rolling on,
I stand, lost, with feet awash in the licking tide,
and the fog presses my mouth and nose like a veil.
Shall I contemplate the sea, the embracing warmth,
the simultaneous loss of breath, of Winter?
But brushed aside by the silent hand of the wind,
the fog parts from a new path, revealed by the wind
and bejeweled by the sun, rolling on, rolling on.
I step forth unto Spring; behind, I leave Winter.
I drift forth to Faerie on the pulse of the tide.
There is immediate transformation: light, warmth,
and sunbeams woven, draped upon me like a veil,
as though no denser than crisscrossed cobwebs. The veil
between our worlds is swept aside by sighing wind.
I drink of a wine-running stream that teems me with warmth.
I dab my lips; the stream, rolling on, rolling on,
laughs at my soul, still steep'd in and tied,
guilty, to relentless misery, to Winter.
But in this moment, there is no place for Winter.
There is a procession coming, the Elves in veils
of only air, weilding still-green oaken staves tied
at the tops with colored streamers, tossed on the wind,
coaxing forth with their feet, rolling on, rolling on,
life that arches from barren earth, throbbing with warmth
of Spring. At the Elf-King's glance, my face fills with warmth,
then my body, for he casts from me the Winter
and, instead, surging heat, rolling on, rolling on,
leaves me to linger with him, alone, in his vale,
thronged against him by his arms and the capering wind
as I am coaxed from Winter by Spring's welling tide.
He held the Sun by her hair, prolonged eventide,
that we may lie longer than Time permits in warmth,
in Spring, with our flesh caressed and cooled by the wind
'neath the whispering trees. But Spring gives way to Winter.
In stone-heavy sleep, dragg'd across me like a veil,
I wade in the icy sea, rolling on, rolling on.
My land has been sculpted anew by wind and tide.
While in warmth I drowsed, time went rolling on, rolling on.
Without avail, my folk faded, I reclaim Winter.