Sunday, December 6, 2009


I am in many forms before I am bound.
I am the starwalker who won't come down.
I am the pond dweller who won't come up.
I am a hawk on a hill.
I am a bear in a berry wood.

I am the giant of the deep
who walked the Earth for ten thousand years
before he went back to the sea.
I am the sleeping king
who mated with the Earth
and dropped his horns in due season
and grew them back

I am the blasted oak that drew the lightning
I am the man in the Moon
I am the Hanged Man, and the Emperor, and the Fool.
I am medicine and I am poison.
I am the springing tiger and the quaking goat.
I am the one who makes a prison of the world
I am the one who makes the world his playground.
I am the death lord on his dark throne
I am a humming bird courting a flower.

I am the heaven bird in the World Tree
and the dragon coiled at its roots
and the squirrel that makes mischief between them.
I am a shard from a mirror
that was broken in transit from a blue star.

To release me, you must tie me down.

- Portland, Oregon, December 6, 2009


Betsey said...


That hit right to my heart!

Thank You.

Unknown said...

That was very much like a 'poem' I spoke with a group I led in NH yesterday. It is mesmerizing and builds with it's own power of truth. I love it. Thank you.

Blackbird said...

Proteus Proteus where art thou?
I am here and there
I am everywhere
I am he I am she I am you
In the net of Indra
I make my home
In the mist
And the fabric of Dream

A splendid poem Robert!
Called me right in...
from Blackbird

Robert Moss said...

Thank you, Betsey and Susan.

Blackbird, it is always a fine pleasure to hear your poetic chirps. Black birds (especially Raven, for me) played a very significant role in my workshop in Portland this weekend and, as always, were marvelous trackers.

Anonymous said...

Yes, wonderful poem! Proteus...I will be considering this for quite some time. Timely for me. Thank you once again for widening the horizons of mythology and dreaming in relation to waking life.

Worldbridger said...

…I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea.
Or hear old Triton blow his wreath├Ęd horn.


Robyn said...


Beautiful, your true expression.

The shard--both clue and composite.

Diana said...

Powerfully moving poem. Thank you, Robert.

Robert Moss said...

Thanks Margie, Robyn and Diana.

Margie - There was a lot of living myth interweaving with our dream afventures over the Portland weekend. A man from British Columbia was inspired to write, and perfrom, a marvelous song in which he found part of his larger story on the myth of Icarus, who became so dizzy with hubris (ego beyond ego) that he forgot his father's warning not to fly too close to the sun - so the wax that glued his wings in place melted.

That old man-beast of the sea, Proteus, is very old indeed in my personal mythology...

Nancy said...

Thanks for nudging me back to writing my dream reports as poetry. In the past 2 days alone I've dreamed of
- a bee stinging my head so deeply and painfully I couldn't think, and really fighting to pull it out
- a stained-glass window in the sky, filled with red, blue, and yellow curlicues of rich tapestried detail
- telling a woman I met in a cafe I had to get home to write my new dream before I forgot it, with her responding that I should study with Robert Moss(!!)
- comforting my younger sister like a small child, rubbing her head slowly
- seeing a former blustery macho man after his car accident, his head caved in on one side like a rind of spooned-out fruit, the left intuitive side the outer one now with the right logical one hidden
- telling a teen boy that he made me want to be as truthful as possible

All rich raw ingredients for creative writing. Thanks for the inspiration!
You could write anything and I would find it fascinating (though this post is unusually superb) -- I bet your grocery list is riveting!

Nicola said...

Very beautiful robert

DreamingBear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DreamingBear said...

17 sailors on our ship.
I beg them to lash me to the mast
To bind me with a magic rope
of ritual space
and to take me close up to the rocks…
Close enough that I might behold
the terrifying beauty that beckons there )))
it drives one mad with desire.
Like a moth into an open flame
I scream and kick ‘please let me go’
But the circle holds
and I am spared
and now safely home
Although somehow home is not the same

Till I was bound
I could not see...

Savannah said...

Your last line really hits home for me like a stormy truth... Awesomely powerful, thank you!

Robert Moss said...

Hi Nancy - A rich mix of ingredients for a poem, indeed! Glad to hear that dream women knew where to send you :-) Your decsription of the man whose head had been opened and buckled reminds me of the saying that illness and accidents are the Western form of meditation.

Thanks for your good cheer, Nicola and Savannah.

And - DreamingBear - thanks for reminding us why another figure in the Odyssey (the title character) needed to be bound, so he could hear the sirens sing without being destroyed by their lures.

Tina Tau said...

I was at your workshop, and present for the reading of this poem. So glad to have it posted, and to have had the delight of watching all the magics of the weekend take shape. Thank you, thank you! For the poem, the weekend, and the possibilities unfolding.
This poem reminds me of Yeats' lines--from Fergus and the Druid:
....I have been many things --
A green drop in the surge, a gleam of light
Upon a sword, a fir-tree on a hill,
An old slave grinding at a heavy quern,
A king sitting upon a chair of gold --
And all these things were wonderful and great;
But now I have grown nothing, knowing all...

Tina (wayfarer)

Robert Moss said...

Hi Tina - Indeed, "Who will go drive with Fergus now?" That name - Fergus - is one that returns. I run into dogs, large and small, that are named "Fergus" at interesting moments, including past midnight one night when I was working on one of the Yeatsian passages in my "Dreamer's Book of the Dead" and needed to clear my head, and walking with my own little dog, encountered a laughing Irish setter. When his owner told me his name was "Fergus" and I asked why, she recited from memory, under a half moon, these lines of Yeats:

For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars

Who can not love a poet who sings of "dishevelled wandering stars"?

Now - In the passage you quote, Yeats was writing in the shapeshifting bardic mode that, as you know, is very ancient among the Celts, and most familiar, perhaps, in the Song of Amergin. I, in turn, seeking to bind Protean to a form, drew from the same spring.

It was a lovely workshop in Portland, wasn't it? We'll continue the adventures in the Pacific Northwest next year.

Joy Harjo said...

Excellent poem!