Ancient beyond ancient times
When man must bow to Nature’s will,
And wend his way around her whims,
His own power flimsy, and easy spent,
Without the aid of skill or science.
When fire was but a fear to Earth’s creatures,
Who knew not yet its wisdom,
Nor how it might be tamed.
Deep, dark and cold, when the sun shone not
Deep, dark and cold, and full of longing for those
Cave bound, shivering worshippers of Sun,
For Sun alone could keep them warm and free.
Basking in longed-for, life-giving rays,
Before the dark and cold descended once again.
Like all Earth’s creatures, powerless against the times and seasons,
Forced to dance with Nature’s tune.
Primal, unfettered people,
Yet little did they know.
Behold, Prometheus, life-giver among men,
Maverick teacher of the gods.
No haughty observation from some far off mount,
Here a god to care for wretched Earth-bound creatures
In their numbing wombs of stone.
How they cower beneath the shining figure, descending,
Tiny minds fearful of what they cannot know.
Creatures of habit and instinct
Creatures of the earthen ways,
Who once danced in tropical step
In their fecund forest homes.
Yet Prometheus would give them more,
Knowledge, wisdom, power
Skills beyond skills beyond skills
And most of all, fire.
Shall these earthen people now be taught of fire
Teach them caution thereof, and wisdom,
For fire burns deep and strong
In those who know not her ways.
But Zeus ordered Prometheus bound,
By Hephaestus hand.
For how could mortal man entrusted be
With fire’s almighty power?
Zeus, the father god foreseeing fault:
Or jealous deity guarding radiance?
For mortal man his frailty must deny
By making mark upon his world.
As Ceridwen’s cunning plan
Unwittingly anointed Taliesin,
Did Prometheus perhaps misunderstand
Tormented by more than eagle’s feast,
Bound helpless against man’s progress.
The hearth fires burn, and humankind no more
Must dwell in cold and dark.
A second sun born to light their darkest hearts.
The dancing flames mesmerise and pacify
Such gladdened spirits.
Sacred hearth fires,
Warming, cooking, tending new life.
My great aunt, born two pounds,
Owes her life to a shoebox, a roaring
And a dropper full of milky tea.
How many nights would we all be long dead
Without Promethean warmth?
Story tellers, poets and crafters gathered around the blaze,
Three noble strains passed amongst the bards,
Solstice and Beltane fires showed the turning of the wheel,
The livestock led through Brigit’s flame,
As beacon fires lit up their sacred ways
And ever were there those to dedicate their hearts
To wisdom’s secrets, hidden in life’s flames.
Studying the age-old ways of alchemy, divination,
Crouching amongst wild plants and herbs
To know of healing powers and remedies.
Yet strength in Nature’s power brought sore suspicion
To those found separate, lacking in life’s ways.
People of mind, thought, logic,
Straining against the fey ways of their fellows.
And in the end would turn their brutish mastery
Against the subtle, shamanistic path.
Fire raged against fire,
And thus were the wisened ones cut down.
Oh ancient fire-keepers,
Do you turn in your unmarked graves
At the sight of modern folly?
Your own power turned against you
By those who know only brute force.
Was there some cold comfort in the burning mists
That slew you?
Was there some pity in your hearts
For those fat-fingered fools
Who saw only destruction
Where you knew calm dexterity.
Pity for those who could not follow the dancing flames
And smoky fronds to inner muse,
And Awen’s ever-changing call.
Is it the burning will of man
To form each thing in homage
To his own un-tempered urge?
To set aside the call to higher thoughts
And dwell instead amongst the darkest impulse of destruction?
Who turned warmth into a weapon?
Who conceived the torturous fire of cannon,
Bomb or mushroom cloud?
Is there a closer vision of hell
Than that demonic tendrilled smoke
Poisoning the sky and water?
What fool could throw such mighty power
Clanging from fatuous hands?
Yet gifts once given
Are not in giver’s freedom to control.
As curiosity overtook Pandora,
Ignorance unleashing all
With bare blind hope for comfort,
So do the many centuries breed curiosity.
No longer is the gift of fire freely accepted
As hearth and heart blessing.
But must be dissected, separated, refracted
Through mind’s distorted lens.
No longer to spiral in intuition’s blaze,
But stoke the flames to danger’s guise.
Burning, burning, desires that rise
Beyond the sensible.
Shall we burn all our sustenance
Like empty-fisted children,
Burn the wood, the coal, the oil,
The foolish, poisonous alchemy
Of uranium, the endless lights
That shine uselessly on city streets.
Shall we burn up the magical, the fey,
The inner muse, in cold reason’s fire?
In light of day, here we see the errors of our ways
And cool our racing hearts.
Breeding a new respect for fire power
A fresh gratitude for flames of life,
Anointed by the truest divine gifts.
For Prometheus, was your true gift
A test of man’s own will.
Once burnt, twice shy, do we become.
For out there on your lonely crag,
Awaiting daily death and birth,
Your life and liver threatened,
Did you dare despair of us?
Or trust our childish hope to learn respect?
For as we once quaked in fear and cold
May we quake in gratitude for Earth and life,
For sun, and fire, and lessons learned.