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spring 2012



featuring the art of Bill Rogers

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Mari Lwyd Night
spring 2012
South Tampa Mari Lwyd: 2010-2011


What is that sound o'er the stones in street?
Some patches of singing
And scratches of feet

She comes from the winter, across the cold stones
With the veil of a ghost
And a visage of bones

As slow as the grave
But as quick as a sprite
The ol' Mari Lwyd is coming tonight

She comes bringing mirth
But sometimes a scare
With glass for her eyes and ribbons for hair

Her gallop like clockwork
But friendlier than fate
She comes down the walkway and raps on your gate

Her party assembles just outside your door
They want to come in
And sing something more

The eagerness mounts
As her party awaits
Outside it is cold but there's spring in her gait

With her mane all of ribbon
And eyes made of glass
She'll barge through the door when you let her pass

She kicks up her heels once she is let in
She tugs at your sleeve
And she nips at your chin

She shares in some singing
And shares in some dance
Some cakes and some ale if you give her the chance

Someone springs up and opens the door
And soon her cold shadow
is crossing your floor

And all her attendants, they come in as well
And bring you warm blessings
And stories to tell

She comes like a phantom
She comes with alarm
But she comes bringing laughter and not bringing harm

With fear in her eyes
But warmth in her grin
She's turning the old year around again

Yet before long there's quiet
As the revelers depart
But a warmth still remains in the pondering heart

A hush it descends
As the night it turns blue
And the visiting band disappears from all view

The Mari and party
They vanish from sight
But you'll see them again next Mari Lwyd Night*

Bill Rogers

*typically between Christmas and Twelfth Night, usually closest to New Year's Day.


This is my newest poem. Although I know it has a similar sing-songy rhythm to The Night Before Christmas, and does also feature a kind of Christmas-time visitation, I did not model it on that. I just woke up from a dream and wrote it. Here are two video links which might round out the ideas in the poem for you:

Y Fari Lwyd approaches the door

Mari Lwyd visitation

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Your poem sums up this tradition (which I did not know much of). Thanks.

Interestingly it has a small overlap with the first footing tradition in Scottish (or Celtic?) culture. And being a tall dark-haired (at least I used to be) Scotsman, I have at times been banished from a New Year celebration before midnight, stood out in the cold with a piece of coal, so that I can enter as the first-foot when New Year has arrived.

Oh yes, I've heard of these customs where men of dark hair were preferred over women and fair haired people. Interesting. I don't really believe in luck and don't follow the orthodoxy of any tradition. I have only Scottish ancestry that I know of. But I do so love learning. And no matter how loyal people are to their regional particularities I love seeing the consistencies among the differences in various local traditions. And, love the kilt. Hmmm...no, I won't ask that.

Thanks for sharing this, Bill. A poetic soul such as yourself should be declared an honorary Welshman.

Thanks, I only hope that I didn't oversimplify or over-romanticize. Mostly I just love this custom. Thanks Bruce. :)

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