Behind storm-fretted bastions gray and bare
Flame-crested warriors of Cunedda’s line
Feast in a gold ring, – their targes shine
Along the wall and clang to gusts of air;
And in the shadow, torches blown aflare
Reveal a chief, half human, half divine,
With brooding head, starred by the Dragon Sign,
Hung motionless in some undreamed despair.
But when he starts, three torques of twisted gold
Writhe on his breast, for voices all men fear
Wail forth the battle-doom dead kings have borne;
And as the mead-hall fills with sudden cold,
Above the wind-tossed sea his heart can hear
The strange gods calling through their mystic horn.
Arthur is one of Six Celtic Sonnets written by Thomas Samuel Jones and included in From the Isles of Dream: Visionary Stories and Poems of the Celtic Renaissance, selected by John Matthews and with a foreword by Robin Williamson (Floris Books, 1993).
Thomas Samuel Jones (1882-1932) came from Welsh and Irish stock and was born in Oneida County, New York State, near the Adirondack Mountains. Each of the six sonnets reflects a facet of Celtic tradition. They were originally published in 1930 as part of the collection Aknahton and Other Sonnets. For those of us who resonate with Druid and Celtic spirituality, they are part of our modern cultural ancestry.