This poem expands on the traditional belief that the ash tree has healing and strengthening powers. Ash sap was given to babies to make them strong and a sick baby could be passed three times deosil (clockwise) through a split ash sapling. The sapling was then bound up and if it went on to grow strong then so would the child. Country folk therefore often had their own carefully guarded ash tree.
I have chosen to set the event at the break of dawn as liminal moments were thought to have the strongest magical power and also the symbolic association between a new life and dawn.
Middengeard was one of the nine worlds, the one where people lived.
Leechcraft from leech (physician) referred to a healers craft. A galdor was a charm or spell which was sung, often to accompany a herbal remedy or other healing practice.
The name Aelfric derives from elf and power, so denotes someone with the power of an elf.
Through the Ash Tree
In dead of dark night, before break of dawn,
Into the wild wood, past tall bearded corn.
Along the deep track, by the brook babbling,
Three times deosil, through split ash sapling.
Upon a moist morn, soft chanting like bard,
In realm of spirit, misty Middangeard.
Black birds are about, conjuring the dawn,
With knife in her hand, and her first babe born.
Small leaves on trees, didst quiver and shiver,
Lifting her eyes looking, hither and thither.
She cut with great care, that it not wither,
The ash on the bank, to side of the river.
She uses this leechcraft, so he be full hale,
Passed down from before, it wilt never fail.
She passed the babe though, split tree three times round,
This galdor she sung, was no common sound.
Crowned with fairy cowl, was his lucky head,
Last laying him down, on a mossy bed.
With magical craft, enchanted is he,
Elfin power in name, Aelfric to be.
In height of summer, sunshine wilt burn bright,
Spell crafting by singing from darkest night.
As still morning mist, did it slowly fade,
Finally the spell, was solemnly laid.
Copyright Andrew Rea May 2014