Cover Art by Aaron Sims
A SCATTERING OF SONG
The first book in the Dark Avalon series
At the Battle of Elf Hill, Myrddin witnesses the destruction of his fellow warriors and the falling of his chieftain, Gwenddolau. Fleeing in what he believes to be madness from the scene of chaos and carnage, he seeks refuge in the fastness of the Caledonian Woods. Only with the passage of the seasons, during which he lives like an animal of the forest, pursued relentlessly by the hounds of his enemy, does he become aware of the true nature of his own altered state of existence. And with that awareness comes a terrible knowledge, a power undreamed of, and a strange intimacy with a woman of the wilds whose affinity with the Otherworld offers him both freedom and eternal imprisonment.
Note on the Title of this Book:
‘A Scattering of Song’ is my free translation of the Middle Welsh word gwasgargerdd, found in the poem “Gwasgardgerd Verdin”. Gerdd is ‘song, poem’, and gwasgar as a noun means scattering, dispersion, separation, a spreading abroad, division, a giving, distribution, and as an adjective, dispersed, scattered, shared, given, distributing, dispersing. I chose to see this as a song that was scattered, as one might scatter seed.
Indeed, a famous poet and contemporary of the 6th century Taliesin was named Cian Gwenith Gwawd, that is Cian ‘Wheat of Song’. This epithet suggested to me that a poem or song could be metaphorically described as something that was scattered like wheat. I would add that Gwion Bach turns himself into a grain of wheat. When consumed by the goddess Ceridwen (who has assumed the form of a tufted black hen), he is later born from her as Taliesin. This famous divine poet was, therefore, himself an embodiment of the ‘wheat of song’.
Other attempts have been made to render gwasgargerdd, but I do not think they work in the context of the prophetic poem uttered by Myrddin. As one manuscript calls the poem “Gwasgardgerd Vyrdin y ny bed”, “in the grave”, and the prophet is portrayed as speaking with his sister, Gwenddydd, who is presumably outside of the said grave, “Separation-Song” has been proposed. This does not seem to fit the range of meanings for gwasgar, which plainly has to do with the giving or distributing of something and does not indicate the separation of one person from another.