I was ‘noodling’ on my guitar and found a sequence of notes that I knew were going somewhere but couldn’t quite find my way into their meaning. I played them to Cerri and we both agreed that it sounded like a lullaby. But then in one of those special moments when the Gods just open their mouths and whisper into our ears Cerri said, “It’s Branwen’s tale.” We sat in silence for a while as it sank in, and both of us found our eyes welling with tears.
Branwen’s story from the Mabinogion is one of the saddest tales we have within the mythology of the British Isles and I felt I had to give her voice the respect and honour she deserved, but sadly did not receive in life.
I wrote these lyrics yesterday and just played the song to Cerri. I didn’t make it all of the way through without tears.
Branwen, White Raven, I offer you this song, so you know that the Bards still tell your story.
So mote it be.
Branwen’s Lament – Damh the Bard
Dearest Brother hold me here,
Safe in your embrace,
For I feel, death is near,
Her breath upon my face,
Across the Irish sea, you came to rescue me,
Leading an army to avenge my shame,
Two islands torn apart, like my broken heart,
From your army just seven remain.
Sister I heard you calling to me,
O’er the Irish sea,
I brought a war to those foreign shores,
For to set you free,
Now I feel I’m dying poison in my veins,
But for you my dear Sister I’d do it again.
I can hear as I close my eyes,
The screams of my young Son,
Cast into the burning fire,
After death I’ll find peace, all of my pain will cease,
Brother you are my dearest friend,
Now I will welcome death, I will draw my last breath,
And this Raven will fly again.
Lay her body within the Earth,
In this four-cornered tomb,
So her Spirit will know rebirth,
From our Mother’s womb,
And though you lie in the earth so cold,
Know that your story will forever be told,
Bury my head facing over the sea,
And while it remains this land will be free.