Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Taliesin’

Storytelling Starters ~ Three items to entertain you

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

I’ve been sorting. Sorting is a very satisfying thing to do at any time but especially at this time of the year. My file box labelled Songs, Poems, Sayings has produced three items I’d love to share with you.

Item 1 – part of a poem:

When a day passes it is no longer there.
What remains of it? Nothing more than a story.
If stories weren’t told or books weren’t
written, man would live like beasts – only
for the day.
Today, we live, but by tomorrow today
will be a story.
The whole world, all human life
is one long story.

These lovely lines come from Naftali and His Horse, a children’s book by Isaac Bashevis Singer. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Macaronic

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Last Saturday evening, I told the myth of Taliesin at an event at the London Welsh Centre, part of this year’s Bloomsbury Festival. I chose the Taliesin story in honour of Menna Elfyn, the renowned Welsh poet who’d had the slot before me.


Taliesin was one of the founders of the huge poetic tradition which remains one of the central features of Welsh culture. By the 13th century (he lived in the 6th) a fascinating legend had arisen about his birth and the way he gained the mystical powers he displayed as a poet. In the legend, they are specifically magic powers and I chose the story as the central part of my programme because, to me, they are the special attributes of all good poetry. My sea-tray (pictured right) helped summon up a sense of the ocean on which the baby Taliesin is said to have floated for one hundred years.

Macaronic (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Nature Stories

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Well, the photos this week are of birds – three of a pigeon in Venice plus a picture out of my photo archives of seagulls over the Thames.

But the theme of the words is not just birds but cuckoos.

Why cuckoos?

A while ago, a good friend of mine who is also a storyteller got me interested in sponsoring a cuckoo. To do what, you might very well ask? The answer is that the British Trust for Ornithology is keen to find out why cuckoo numbers in Britain have been on the decline and why cuckoos from Scotland and Wales have been doing rather better than cuckoos from England. So they’ve been tagging cuckoos and, by tracking them on the fantastic journeys they annually make from the UK, down across Europe into Africa and back again to where they set out, they are hoping to discover what problems the different cuckoos face.

Last season, I sponsored an English cuckoo who’d been awarded the name of Kaspar. Alas, he didn’t return from the 16,000-miles or more that  these cuckoos normally travel. This season I’ve sponsored a cuckoo from Ceredigion  in Wales who is yet to be awarded a name. I’ve written in, along with many others, to suggest what name might be chosen for him.

My suggestion is Taliesin. Taliesin was one of the earliest Welsh poets. He lived in the second half of the 6th century and I’ve often told audiences the magical legend about him that appears in the Mabinogion.

Taliesin still sings, I said in my email, and hopefully the soon-to-be-named cuckoo will sing for a long time too.

I recommend the BTO website. Like the tree-sign in my last week’s blog, the material on cuckoos (and other birds too) is a story in itself.

A cuckoo legend:
By tradition, it’s on April 7th that the first cuckoo’s song of the year is heard each year in Pembrokeshire which is my native part of Wales. The 7th April is St Brynach’s Day and, in the village of Nevern where St Brynach eventually settled after making a pilgrimage to Rome and spending some years in Brittany, people would wait for the cuckoo to come and fly down to the old Celtic Cross that is St Brynach’s Cross. And it’s there, they say, that the cuckoo would sing.

One year, the bird was late arriving. Waiting eagerly for it to come, the priest was reluctant to start the service until he’d heard the cuckoo’s song.

Eventually the gathered congregation saw the cuckoo fly down through the trees in the churchyard and settle on St Brynach’s Cross. But the bird looked terribly battered and tired and, after singing for one brief, glorious moment, it fell from the cross and died. (more…)