Tag Archives: Finnegans Wake

Crann Bethadh

Crann Bethadh means tree of life in Old Irish. It’s an oak tree. The Celts used to plant them in the centers of their villages where they could be the axis mundi, the pillar holding everything up, the pivot around which it all turns. It’s a sacred world tree, and an older one than the one in the Old English Rune Poem, which stand right there next to it in order. In the Rune Poem, oak is the letter A, which comes right after D. In the Ogam alphabet written down in Old Irish, D is an oak. When they needed new runes for new sounds and invented the oak rune, they kept it close to its roots.

The Ogam alphabet uses bríatharogam to describe each letter name. These are two word descriptions that act as riddles or metaphors and work in a similar way to Old English kennings, which are either compound … More

The Aurochs and the Beaver

The beaver was so full of charm.
The aurochs felt such great alarm.
Stop being so happy.
I like feeling crappy!
Stand down or I’ll do you great harm.

The beaver laughed well never mind
There’s no need to be so unkind.
It was only a joke,
I thought you were woke.
To history you’ll soon be consigned.

But beaver we’re both being hunted,
And with truth you’ll soon be confronted.
The hunter agrees,
Your balls cure disease.
You’ll die first, there I said it unblunted.

They do like my castoreum,
And my testes, you can’t even see ’em.
So they hunt my poor hide
Of this you’ve not lied.
Still, your bones will fill a museum.


Vern Tonkin

Spanish was my first language but I was a toddler when my family moved to the States, where my world became English only, that I grew up as an English speaker and thinker and struggled learning Spanish when I had the chance in college. I got a pity D- in my third year of Spanish because my Argentine professor couldn’t fathom how a girl from Peru could only grasp the basic language of a baby, and she just couldn’t bring herself to fail a South American as I deserved. In Spanish I can understand everything and say nothing much. I do know all the swear words. So.

In grad school, I needed one more year of Spanish to get a Ph.D., or I could learn Old English. I was there to study temporality, as much as a very generous and forward thinking English department would let me, and another South American, an Argentine I loveMore

Alphybettyformed Verbage

A is always for apple. B is for a lot of stuff. Ball, bear, boat, banana, so many B things. Very early we learn from the one to the infinite is but a step.

The Old English Rune Poem is an alphabet book. It looks like an alphabet book, but like a modern alphabet book there’s infinitely more to it, if you look close. Every stanza of the poem describes a letter, a rune. In Old English the word rune means secret. The secret is these letters weren’t just for writing. In secret, when nobody was looking, people could carve the runes into bits of wood and cast lots with them. Find out their fates. Answer a few questions. Solve some problems. They could do this because each stanza of the Rune Poem, gives a little bit of wisdom, a little picture of life, sometimes a warning. Always in the form of a riddle. The … More