The name of this blog probably seems fairly arbitrary to many of you. The words themselves are nothing complicated – “Celtic” and “Riverside”. Most people will have at least a notion about what it means to be Celtic, and a riverside is self-descriptive. But why?
I grew up on a steady diet of mostly English literature with a smattering of classics from around the world. Despite growing up in a suburban neighbourhood, my imagination lived very much in the countryside and most of my reading reinforced that. Alice went to Wonderland, Wendy to Never Land, Austen was mostly in the countryside, and my favourite novel is Alcott’s “Little Women.”
This last one in particular painted a strong picture of two houses only just visible to one another out in the New England countryside. A town was near enough that I wouldn’t consider it rural, but the March house was about as frontier as I imagined life on the East coast could get with all our urban sprawl.
I have written in the past about my paracosm and my mind palace. The former is a fantasy world, and the latter is a memory enhancement strategy. The various rooms of the “palace” are subject areas where I “physically” go in my mind to retrieve things. In cases I would retrieve a fact or memory from my mind the same way I would retrieve a spoon from the kitchen drawer.
Anyway, this is to say that I compressed the two of them. That mind palace is a country house within the paracosm, and it’s where I go in my mind to relax as well as think. In the woods not far beyond the house is a modest river, inspired by those I know from the American, Irish, Scottish, English, and German countryside (either by experience or from literature).
The blog is Celtic Riverside because, metaphorically, everything you read here comes from that place. I leave that house, stroll through the woods, and sit beside the charming river to compose my thoughts.
At one point up the river a bit, it forks into the branch that runs towards my country house and the main branch that stays on towards the town. On the peninsula of that fork is a pretty oak tree (that pretty much marks the northern extent of my exploration). When I began thinking about including poetry on the site, in the spirit of that Celtic connectedness with nature, I thought, “That oak tree would be about where we would sit and read it.”
Aislyn as a poet has considerable Dickinson influence – there’s a reverence for nature and a poetic fascination with the macabre. The latter is not a fascination derived from fatalism or pessimism, but I think rather a recognition that the elements have a strong place in nature even though most would rather not talk about them. We fear things like death though it’s as natural as a sunrise. While we might not cherish it the way we would a sunrise (it’s only natural to mourn) we also need not fear it so much.
That view results in a lot of romance. It does not make a romantic spectacle of death itself, but views love as a respite against the inevitable sorrow that comes naturally with loss. What makes love so powerful is that it must end as all things do, but unlike other things it has the power to make us forget and live in the moment.
And that is Aislyn’s Oak Tree – a tree we planted at one end of the Celtic Riverside for sharing poetry where readers can step away from the mental health and other non-fiction prose on the site.
Readers can find that section here, continuing to grow as more poems become available.