Tuesday, December 24, 2013

King Arthur's Christmas Tea

King Arthur’s Christmas Tea

‘Twas long ago in Camelot,
one snowy winter’s day –
King Arthur had been thinking
and to Merlin he did say,
“What shall we do for Christmas, bach,
to celebrate this year?
December’s hard upon us,
and the day is drawing near.

“This year I don’t want any wars,
or green men with an ax,
I don’t want any dragons,
or anything to tax
myself or my Round Table.” –
“Well,” said Merlin with a grin,
“let’s have a good old Welsh te bach,
and ask the neighbors in.”

“I like the idea,” Arthur said.
“I’ll leave it up to you –
you’re the Welshest man among us,
and I know you love a ‘do’.”
“All right,” said Merlin, “if you wish –
I think I can contrive.
Just leave the whole thing up to me
until the guests arrive.”

Merlin sat and made a list
of debts he had to pay.
He looked in all his address books –
the cards went out that day –
and in the country round about
there soon began to be
a great anticipation of
King Arthur’s Christmas Tea.

Then Merlin made arrangements,
and recruited helpers, too –
Queen Guenevere and half her maids
signed up for kitchen crew.
And half of the Round Table
soon were helping them as well –
a Christmas application
of a very special spell!

Camelot got house-cleaned
from the bottom to the top –
Sir Lancelot turned out to be
a dab hand with a mop.
Sir Lionel and Dinodan
then polished up the floors,
while Percival and Galahad
hung holly on the doors.

Sir Modred and Sir Tristram
soon set up the Christmas tree
right in the center of the hall –
a fine fair sight to see.
Then Lamarok and Sagamore
hung paper-chains and balls,
and lastly Merlin lit the lights
that twinkled through the hall.

Meanwhile in the kitchens
they were baking up a storm –
teisennau bach and crempog,
and Welsh cakes fresh and warm,
Pwdin Mynwy, bara brith,
and tons of gingerbread –
they made them all by bushels
so the guests could all be fed.

Then everyone dispersed to change
into their Christmas best,
and Merlin went to Arthur,
telling him he’d soon have guests.
Then he himself went off as well,
to tidy up a bit,
and draw a breath or two in peace
before the panic hit.

Of course some guests came early –
there always are a few
who must anticipate the start
of almost any “do”!
So Merlin set them all to work
to help and make the tea
which as usual wasn’t ready
by the time that it should be!

Merlin poured the sherry –
he had made it all himself,
and let it set to age at least
three hours on the shelf,
then added just a pinch of bat –
he wanted it to be
the very best of beverages
for Arthur’s Christmas tea.

King Melwas arrived early
with the Lady of the Lake,
and Niniane not far behind –
they each had brought a cake!
King Mark and Queen Iseult came late –
Cornwall was quite a drive –
but they wouldn’t want to miss it,
not while Tristram was alive.

King Lot came down from Orkney
on the wings of the North Wind
with his Queen and sons and servants –
it was clear they meant to spend
the holidays at Camelot –
invited they were not.
But that’s the way with relatives –
some put you on the spot!

Kings Urien and Charlemagne
and Maelgwyn Gwynedd came
and several hundred others
who I won’t attempt to name.
There was tea and cakes a-plenty,
there was sherry, port, and rum,
and whatever you can think of,
why, I’m sure the guests had some!

They ate and drank and laughed and talked –
the children had a ball
when they found the Christmas crackers
Merlin hid around the hall.
There was music, too – the harpers played
until their strings wore out! –
and conversation filled the place
until you had to shout.

The party lasted half that day
and half the night as well –
if the food and drink had not run out,
I think they’d be there still.
and when at last the guests had gone
Arthur surveyed the hall,
and said to Merlin, “Merlin, bach,
you really gave your all.”

“It’s a special magic,” Merlin said,
and sighed, for he was tired,
and Arthur nodded.  “Yes, it is –
and one you’ve well acquired.
I’ve never seen a party
was so full of Christmas cheer.
let’s have another like it, please –
but not before next year!”

(from King Arthur's Raid on Hell and Other Poems, (c) 2007 G. R. Grove)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Midwinter Solstice song

Midwinter: Pwyll

In Arawn's halls you spent a year
atoning for your actions ill;
you sorrowed not, nor did you fear
except at night, while you lay still

beside a woman passing fair –
fell Arawn's wife. You did not stir
to touch, or stoke her shining hair;
your forethought kept you safe from her.

At end of year, to fight you went
with summer's king, and cut him down;
refused to strike him twice; and spent,
he lifeless lay on bloody ground.

A prince again in your own land,
you found the woman whom you sought
and married her. Your warrior band
dispatched the badger that you caught.

At last a son was born to you,
but vanished quite; her women made
a plan, and to avoid their due,
the blame on fair Rhiannon laid.

But Teyrnon, he who found the boy,
and reared him with his loving wife
perceived a likeness; to your joy
they then restored him to your life.

Still friends with Arawn, gifts you made
to him, and he gave gifts to you;
perhaps in Annwn's gentle glades
you hunt with him in friendship true,

and wisdom's name which still you bear
befits you well. You journeyed long
to win the crown which now you wear.
Dark Annwn's head, receive our song!

(from "A Garland of High Day Songs" in Druid Songs, (c) 2013 G. R. Grove)

Thursday, December 12, 2013



Snow cloaked the fields. The river
armored with ice lay silent.
Shouts echoed faintly – shivers
of wind-borne mist, not violent.

Warfare and death seemed unreal.
Blood on the snow was not red
In the grey light of that field.
Snow-covered mounds were not dead.

Half-way twixt Annwn and earth,
with ice for arrows and spears,
armies of unhuman birth
were battling down the long years –

or so it seemed. But red blood
showed when our torches came.
Dead men lay mixed in the mud,
made real by that flickering flame.

Was it Llywelyn we found?
Or Arthur, on Camlann field?
Welsh blood defending Welsh ground,
Welsh bodies borne on Welsh shields

in the deep cold of that night –
our dream and our King brought low.
Darkness devoured his light
and left our blood on the snow.

(Copyright 2006 G. R. Grove)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Still here...

Yikes! Over a month... well, I've been busy, but not with anything I wanted to post here. Note: must do better! Blame it on facebook...

Friday, October 4, 2013

First snow...

...this morning, and a hard freeze expected tonight. New moon as well. We stand on the doorstep of winter.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


... and autumn continues its slow descent toward winter. We had our first frost a few days ago, just enough to damage the squash but not much else. Not much longer, though, before it will be time to start putting the garden to bed for the winter.

Latest book development: a new poetry collection, of work I've written while completing the ADF Bardic Guild's study programs. So far it's only available on Lulu, but there will be an e-book version soon, and eventually Amazon distribution as well. I'll post again when the e-book is ready (probably some time in the next week), which will allow people a better preview than Lulu currently provides.

(edited to add: it's available as an ebook now on smashwords)


Monday, September 2, 2013


...and the harvest season is in full swing. Yesterday I made a small batch of tomato chutney, using mostly tomatoes and sweet peppers from my garden. The farmer's markets are wonderful; the summer stone fruits from Colorado's western slope  - especially the peaches! - overlapping with the early apples and pears, and the scarce but wonderful local blackberries. Tonight's supper will include squash and green beans, again from my garden. The only drawback this year has been the squirrels, which have developed a taste for tomatoes to go with their passion for sweet corn.

With the end of summer, it's also time to start writing again. I've been reading through the manuscript of Gwernin's next book, The Fallen Stones, about one-third finished when I laid it down two years ago to follow the beguiling tale of the Druid's Son. Now it's time to start putting words one after another again, a process akin to building the bridge on which you walk, stone by stone, as you cross the void. I know more or less what's at the other end, but the journey is always exciting, and sometimes frightening. Don't look down...


Monday, August 12, 2013

Still here...

Last month has been busy, with festivals, travel, and other associated activities, most recently at the Colorado Scottish Festival with the Colorado Welsh Society.  Hopefully things will settle down enough that I can start blogging more regularly soon.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Still here...

Working on a new Mac Criomthann story, which should complete the Bardic Composition 3 set. After that, it's back to Gwernin's next book!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Has it been that long?

I suppose so. Still here, anyway - busy with other stuff. Should be able to start working on Gwernin's next book soon, then there'll be more news.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Still here...

Still here... check out the "Other Stuff" link on the sidebar to see some of what I've been doing.

Also, a second short story here....


Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Something I wrote recently....

Prayer of Thanks to Thor for Sending Snow 

Earth's child, son of Odin,
oath-ring keeper truthful,
hammer-wielder, hear me –
high I raise my praises!

Red-beard, Sif's beloved,
bane of trolls, grain-giver,
I have poured you offerings –
ale and mead, full measure!

Snow I asked you send us,
sleet and rain plain-wetting –
ocean-drinker answered,
ice and snow bestowing!

Giant-killing goat-lord
gave us our crop-saving –
storm-god sent us sky-seed,
silver, from rain-bringer.

Mjollnir's hurler, hear me,
who my plea has answered –
ale to you I offer,
Asgard's strongest guarder.

Hear, o foe-defeater,
friend of men, my singing –
Lord of Thunder, thankful,
thus I Har's ale offer!


Friday, March 29, 2013


Usual variable spring weather here.

Last Saturday...

and two days ago...

march_2013 011


Friday, March 15, 2013


Been busy reading, studying, writing... and the garden has been growing. Spring in the cold frame...

feb-march_2013 025

Clockwise from the bottom: rosemary, tomatoes, eggplant (in the noosa cup), peppers, tall potato plant in upper left (about to get potted up), catnip (in the wire cage), daffodils, and violets!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Still here...

... just busy writing other stuff. See the link on the sidebar under "Other Stuff" for examples.


Thursday, February 21, 2013


Finally got some snow last night, about 4 inches...

feb_2013 002

Pepper seedlings looking out the window...


Thursday, February 14, 2013

New stuff...

I've started a new page with links to pdf and mp3 versions of some non-book stuff I've written.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013


Monday we went to see the Denver Museum of Nature and Science's Pompeii exhibition. It was well worth while, with some fascinating artifacts. The Vesuvius eruption that buried Pompeii was in 79 AD, during the period covered by The Druid's Son, although not mentioned in the book (although it may come up as background information when/if I write more in that series). Anyway, I took lots of pictures, which are on my flickr account here. An example:

dec_2012 015

The exhibition closes Sunday January 13th.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

Well, only a day late... Lots of things happening the last couple of weeks, not many of which were connected with either writing or gardening. I got back to work somewhat today. Spent most of the morning working on illustrations for a talk I'm giving in three weeks for a SCA group on Early Medieval religion in the British Isles (500-900 CE). The later half of that range is really outside my usual area of interest, but appropriate to the audience. It's partly designed to answer the question "I want to have a pagan English / Scottish / Welsh / Irish persona, when would that have been appropriate?" The answer is more nuanced than you might think. Although Britain was officially Christian under the late Roman Empire, Saint David (for example) was still said to be converting pagans in south Wales in the mid-sixth century, which implies there was still some number of them around.

The afternoon was mostly devoted to bookselling adminstrivia: inventory, preparing bins for our SCA twelfth night event, updating spreadsheets and reconciling balances prior to tax time. The self-published writer's work is never done...

Nice and sunny today, but the temperature barely got up to freezing, so no new pictures.