Category Archives: Twilight of the Gods

Twilight of the Gods  

written to contest the Bardic Chair of Glastonbury in the Ynys Witrin Open Gorsedd 2015. With this piece I became the 10th Bard of Glastonbury… (I should add it was written to be performed, and performed in two halves at that, but people have flattered me by asking to see it, so here goes):
Way out to the West, in his jewel-splendoured evening boat, Ra had turned from a falcon to a ram, and become Atum. And the top of his ram horns had just gone below the horizon, as the reddened sun-disc he carried on them began the final part of its nightly descent into the Underworld.
Venus, as she nearly always was, was the first to appear –
at first as a bright spot on the horizon, then nearer,
and brighter, and brighter, and nearer, and brighter,
and nearer, and nearer, until she alighted
on the deck, running, barefoot, her full-muscled legs
going past each other and slowing fast, as if she’d just come off a swing.
She re-ordered the setting of the tables, just slightly.
Laying a glass on its side, or ruffling up a cloth, so it wasn’t right,
but it was beautiful. Then she sat in the arrangement and waited.
It didn’t take long. A few breaths in and out, and then a great
whoosh, and a thump on the deck of the boat: a harpoon
had shot out of the sea and stuck in it. As soon
as it landed, its rope stretched as taut as a bowstring
and Venus looked down at the starboard sea,
and grasping the rope there was Repun Kamui.
A flick of his great Orca tail brought him clear
of the water; then, as he hauled himself nearer,
it flicked into feet he could plant on the strake,
and his feet, rope and hands worked together to take
him up over the gunwale.
He planted his feet on the decking, and beamed,
then bowed to the beauty of Venus, who seemed
not entirely sure who he was. “Hello”, she tried, “um…”
“Repun!” he helped her.
“Ah, thank you. Repun. Have I had the pleasure?”
“Yes… yes… miss Venus” – he tried not to look crestfallen. “Repun Kamui? Sea god of the Ainu people? Indigenous people of North Japan and islands off mainland Russia… Two Summers ago. We did indeed have the pleasure. Well, I know *I* had the pleasure. I thought you had the pleasure too?”
“Mm-hm, yes. I’m sure”, said Venus, not sure at all, but after all she was an exceptionally popular god – “well, it’s lovely to see you again.”
There was an awkward silence for a moment, then:
“Do you know any other gods who are coming?”
“I’m not sure…”
“I think there’s going to be quite a few of us.”
“Right”, said the sea-god.
“There don’t seem to be any nibbles…”
At this, something in Repun started. Food was very important to him.
“A gathering of gods demands,
a feast!” he cried, and clapped his hands,
and into each and every dish
there rained divinely tasty fish.
Venus, rendering herself ever-so-slightly less beautiful for a moment, pulled a
frown.
“What’s wrong?” asked the whale-boy, as more splatted down.
“Raw fish!” exclaimed Venus. “They’re slimy. They’re smooshy”.
“Where I’m from”, he countered, “we call raw fish sushi”.
“Well it won’t do at all. I don’t like how it looks”,
said the looker, and went on, “God feasts need god cooks”.
With that their cheeks were warmed by a wall of heat
as if a great oven door had swung open at the stern.
It came with an aroma as welcome and as sweet
As the scent of baking bread. They both turned
to greet them – not one kitchen god but two –
from China, Zao Jun of the stove, and who, else
alongside him, with her golden ladle
but India’s Annapoorna? They made for the tables
and started to fry up the feast.
And as soon as the sizzle began, from the East
drifted laughter and song,
and before very long,
a raft made of barrels was knocking against the ship’s port.
So just in case any amongst you had thought
There was something missing from this party, they’d come!
The gods of beer, and wine, and rum!
Bacchus, Sucellus, Dionysus,
Nin-kasi, and Yi-ti, who made wine from rices.
The Aztec Tezcatzontecatl was there,
and, of course, the Green Man, from whose copious hair
sprang grapevines that climbed up the side of the ship
and the gang of gods climbed them, up over the lip.
One wine-god more arrived then, bearing cheeses
– the god who bled wine. You may know him as Jesus.
Then – since the drink had arrived – god after goddess arrived on the deck.
A panoply of pantheons, set to get wrecked.
But in the hold below there was a pirate gang. And their names were Prometheus, Bochica, En-men-dur-ana, Gwydion, Imhotep, Merlin and Sir Isaac Newton.
And in the hold with them were all the gods’ treasures:
magical marvels beyond any measure.
A cornucopia of cornucopias!
There were bowls that could never be emptied of grain,
There were cups full of wine that could never be drained,
Swords that would always best any fighter,
And best of all, there was… a lighter.
It was a glorious hoard of so much hoarded glory
That, never mind crazy – the gods must be Tory!
Now, with all the sea gods unwitting on the deck above, the gang made a hole in the side of the boat, and brought as much of the treasure and knowledge as they could manage up with them, to the raft made of barrels that the gods of beer and wine had arrived on, and stole away unseen.
And you can probably guess what happened next:
The boat started sinking.
The glasses stopped clinking.
Bacchus stopped drinking.
Athena stopped thinking.
Shiva stopped dancing.
Macuilxochitl stopped chancing.
Mars stopped raging.
Geras stopped aging.
Odin stopped blowing.
The Green Man stopped growing.
Saturn stopped farming.
Aphrodite stopped charming.
Baldr stopped shining.
The Fates stopped twining.
Flora stopped gardening.
Priapus stopped hardening.
Loki stopped flashing.
Thor stopped crashing.
Thoth stopped learning.
Brigid stopped burning.
The Devil stopped lying.
The Angels stopped flying.
Jesus stopped bleeding.
The Muses stopped reading.
In short, and all together, the sea-gods stopped roaring,
The war gods stopped warring,
The gorgons stopped hissing,
And the love gods stopped kissing.
And Prometheus’ pirate gang, on their barrel-raft, brought the treasures and the knowledge of the gods back to the mortal shore. And in the East, a bright disc rose, and it wasn’t Ra, or Helios, or Belinos any more – it was simply the Sun. Our Sun. The Sun in all its radiating, Helium glory. It wasn’t carried on a golden chariot or a bejewelled boat. It didn’t come out of a great charred hole in the ground. It was over a million times larger than the earth, and it was real. And for that, it was even more magnificent. And we still marvelled at it. And marvelled at all the things around us. Because with the gods gone, the time had come for the women and men of the Earth – to write our own stories.