" William Shakespeare, "Dark Man, "The Circus Animals' Desertion", Ben Bulben, carousel, Einstein, Ireland, Land of Promise, Manannan Mac Lir, Niamh of the Golden Hair, Ogma, Oisin, William Butler Yeats
nchantment is quite evident in this latest dream of ‘Melissa’s’ – another delightful surprise in the development of this character. As usual, it answers some questions and raises still others.
One important thing we learn about the character is that her father, from whom she has estranged herself, has built a business empire connected with carnivals and carnival rides. So, we are given a glimpse at her formative years to compare to his dictatorial behavior toward her in a previous dream. She obviously was raised in an environment much different than that, say, of a public servant or a professor or a professional of most any sort.
More importantly we learn more about another major male figure in her life, albeit a man she has yet to meet, her ‘Dark Man.’ We have seen his anguish about her ‘situation’; we have seen some romance; we have seen that he considers her a Muse. In this dream I think we are shown that for her ‘Dark Man’ ‘Melissa’ is no passing fancy, no mere ‘PYT.’ What she represents to him is something timeless and transcendent and well worth the search.
How do I come to this conclusion? The answer lies in that couplet from William Butler Yeats’s poem, “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” which has been a prominent theme in this development of the character ‘Melissa’ from the beginning. We know from the full text of the poem that the ‘him’ set on to ride is the mythical Irish warrior-poet Oisin (OhSHEEN) the son of Finn Mac Cumaill (MacCool). Oisin, like his father, was one of the Fianna, the famous band of warriors who served as the bodyguard for the High King of Ireland. His lineage boasted figures of wisdom (his father inadvertently tasted the Salmon of Knowledge) and eloquence (his uncle OGMA was the Irish god of eloquence and the inventor of Ogham, the earliest system of writing used in Ireland.)
The ‘ride’ to which the poem alludes is that taken by Oisin on the magic steed Embarra belonging to his ‘fairy bride’, the goddess Niamh (Neve) of the Golden Hair, daughter of the sea god Manannan Mac Lir who also ruled the Land of Promise. Niamh had appeared to a hunting party including Oisin and his father. Magnificent to behold, she told Oisin she had traveled far from the Land of Promise to seek him whose poems had stirred her so. She asked if he would come away with her and live in the Otherworld realm ruled by her father. He agreed.
The Land of Promise, understandably, was a land of enchantment where, to put it mildly, time was relative. Einstein once said than an hour spent with a pretty girl felt like only a minute and Oisin’s story bears that out poignantly. The three years spent as a young and vital warrior with his fairy bride were as 300 in Ireland. Oisin did not know this when he told Niamh he wished to visit Ireland and his comrades. She knew.
She gave him Embarra, her magic steed, for the journey, with the explicit warning that if he were unseated from that horse at all he would regain in an instant every second of those three centuries.
Nothing and no one remained of the Ireland he had known and he was saddened. The sadness was compounded when, after remaining in his saddle to help some tattered folk move a boulder, his saddle slipped and he fell, this wonderful warrior-poet, to earth. He ended his days ancient and alone, bereft of his love.
Given that this poem was one of Yeats’s last it is easy for me to imagine him at the end of a long, fruitful, celebrated, and sometimes difficult life, hand to brow under that tousled mane of white, white hair contemplating a poet’s life with his beloved in an otherworld. I note also that the Nobel poet laureate is buried on Ben Bulben, the spot where Finn Mac Cumaill is reputed to have discovered Oisin, his son.
Now we come to the questions this dream presents. Why is William Shakespeare portrayed as an angel?
My best and only guess is that his appearance here relates back to this post about wrestling with the angel. Who – the ‘Dark Man,’ ‘Melissa,’ both? – must wrestle the angel Shakespeare?
Why did the angel William Shakespeare set the ‘Dark Man’ on to ride?
The most compelling question as I see it is, ‘Why is William Shakespeare telling us that he is “starved for the bosom” of Oisin’s bride, Manannan Mac Lir’s daughter?’
[[Photos: Center – Carousel Horse, Northpoint Mall, Alpharetta, GA, 2010, Barbara Butler McCoy; Bottom – Carousel Angel, Northpoint Mall, Alpharetta, GA, 2010, Barbara Butler McCoy ]]
Disclaimer: I do not speak Irish Gaelic and, therefore, cannot vouch for the pronunciations provided. Too, there is a welter of spellings and versions for some of these names and stories which necessitates ‘editorial’ decisions on my part. I think it’s worth it.