Originally from Scotland, Nicola Geddes studied Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art, and Cello Performance at the London School of Music. She has been based in County Galway for the past twenty five years, where she works as a cellist and tutor. To date, her writing has been published in Crannog, the Galway Review and Skylight 47 as well being featured on Poethead. In 2017, Nicola’s poems received a Special Commendation from the Patrick Kavanagh Award.
An Cailleach Foretells the Story of the Wolf of Badenoch
Thrice flames will feast upon these spires
Once past and twice more reckoned
From the jaws of the King of Scotland’s son
A howl will spark the second
What cannot be birthed, must be reborn
What cannot be earthed, must be returned
Hand of the darkness, hand of the wind
Grey hand of the Wolf’s desire
There is scarce enough water in all these drowned lands
To battle the wrath of his fire
What cannot be undone, must be repented
What cannot be present, must be represented
Rood screen in flame, and rose of glass
And all the burning pages
Six hundred years till his name in brass
Will sound throughout the ages
What cannot be seen can still be found
In breath, and word, and golden sound
King Richard II’s son, Alexander Stewart, the Earl of Buchan, was an infamous tyrant. In 1390 he asked the Bishop of Moray to annul his marriage. The Bishop refused. The Earl retaliated by ransacking the town of Elgin and burning down the Cathedral (incidentally destroying the records of the ancient family of Geddes). He was excommunicated but later repented.
These events were foretold by a local woman, known simply as An Cailleach, also credited for giving Stewart his title “The Wolf of Badenoch”.
Many legends surround the Wolf’s final hours. From his deathbed, he is reputed to have said, “a Geddes shall walk on my grave, and my name shall be heard in sounding brass…”
“The Wolf of Badenoch” is also the title of a musical piece by John Maxwell Geddes, scored for trumpets, horn and trombones. The composer conducted the premier in 1979 by the Wolf’s tomb in Dunkeld Cathedral. It has been performed many times since.
© 2018 Nicola Geddes