A Song for Oscar

A Narrative Birth Song

All my performances and writing since 2012 has been about challenging linear, resolution-oriented narrative structures to tell my birth stories because they simply do not fit in! And I have found that using these structures to speak my experience in fact really limits what I (can) say. So instead I have been searching for more embodied ways of speaking through listening more deeply. You can read more about these explorations here and here.

But alongside this I also love narrative songs and poems and in Ireland and other Celtic nations these were very common ways of passing wisdom and knowledge on to others in an oral tradition. In Irish mythology Oscar was one of the greatest Irish warriors in the Fianna. So to honor his namesake I wrote A Song for Oscar in the Fenian Lay form, which were originally composed to document the lives of heroes. See ‘Narrative Singing in Ireland’ (2008) by Hugh Shields for more on this form.

A Song for Oscar

1

The sun is setting, the blackbird is singing,

The moon is not risen, the waters have broken,

The mother is smiling, the father and son

Are doing their rounds outside.

2

May fever has set in, the garden is wild,

Hawthorn and roses, damsel- and mayflies,

Swallows and cuckoos, the sun all day shines,

Sounds of life loving life.

3

She’s met him already, in a dream or a vision,

A stag wanders lonely, on the headland before me,

I follow him softly to a grove wooded lightly,

Where his mother is birthing him there.

4

Surrounded by snowdrops, the doe pushes gently,

Her son comes out legs first, running and laughing,

At their side sits fair Brigid, weaving prayers out of song,

As the light hits the fawn’s new eyes.

5

The house has grown quiet, and all are asleep.

But for you and me darling, and our midwives all three,

The waves rush over gently as the darkness sets in,

We’re coupled in this midnight hour.

6

His body is lying in a pool in the centre,

Where she blessed him, and kissed him, before he could enter,

“Farewell, thee, my love, for now you must sleep,

I’ll see you again in your dreams.”

7

Two weeks he had lain there, til the waters did part

And her body was ready, now she’s calling his name,

“Oscar, my darling, Oscar, my love,

It’s time to come into the world.”

8

Sweet Kirsty rocks them, while Katie sings softly,

Catrin watches over the dance that’s unfolding,

Three strong, wise women, bringing themselves,

To witness your birth tonight.

9

Now, in most scenes of birth, there’s a moment of doubt,

She’s afraid she can’t do it, her body’s too tight,

She needs somebody’s hand, somebody’s back

To hold on to as she transforms.

10

It’s like climbing a mountain, the world’s highest peak,

It takes more than good plans and equipment to meet

With the limits of your mind, what you thought you once were,

To move beyond into something new.

11

When you’re losing all hope and your strength has all gone,

The tears are falling- you’re sobbing and bawling,

You wish it was easy, you wish you were more,

That’s when you’re almost there.

12

The dawn is breaking and the chorus begins,

She slips into the water to open her heart more,

Though she didn’t yet know it, you were soon to arrive,

And break her body open with love.

13

It’s okay, there’s nothing to do,

It’s okay, there’s nothing to do,

It’s okay, there’s nothing to do

Nothing to do, but breathe.

14

Just breathe in and breathe out,

Breathe in, breathe out,

Breathe in, breathe out,

There’s nothing to do, but breathe.

15

She held on to each moment and tried not to panic,

Gripping time fiercely as it rushed through her body,

You wish it were easy, you wish you were more,

That’s when you’re almost there.

16

It’s okay, there’s nothing to do,

It’s okay, there’s nothing to do,

It’s okay, there’s nothing to do

Nothing to do, but breathe.

17

Just breathe in and breathe out,

Breathe in, breathe out,

Breathe in, breathe out,

There’s nothing to do, but breathe.

18

A small purple line at the base of her spine,

Had pencilled itself, and upon seeing she cried,

For it meant she could push, you were almost here,

Her courage restored once again.

19

With each wave she pushed harder, til your head she could feel,

Pulsing outside her, yet your face still unseen,

In the last closing rushes, silence entered the room,

As she breathed you out to the world.

20

You had arrived, my Oscar, my darling,

“Hello” and “hello” and “hello” I cried,

Your eyes wide open, you knew you were with me,

And the women who held us, all smiled.

21

Dad arrived within seconds and kissed your head gently,

And held your Mum softly and whispered “I love you,”

There were tears in his eyes made of pure love for you,

His Friend of the Deer was here!

22

Next came brother Gwion, who’d been brave through the night,

As Mum had been shouting and crying and howling,

Though excited to see you, Gwi waited quietly,

Then tiptoed to you with a kiss.

23

Now the sun is setting, the blackbird is singing,

The moon is not risen, the waters are still,

The mother is smiling, the father and sons

Are doing their rounds outside.