Battle Not With Monsters

A poem from Lorna Smithers


Battle not with monsters
Lest you become a monster.
If you gaze into the abyss
The abyss also gazes into you.’
Friedrich Nietzsche

You call us monsters,
we with single eyes in our heads
glaring with an ugly neon green light.
We who keep battalions of men beneath
the roofs of our mouths and in our napes,
fat with hundreds of souls softly slither
through the netherworld’s nocturnal
grandeur undoing form and shape.
If you wish to live and prosper
battle not with monsters.

Do not pierce us with spears.
Do not slice off our sanguine limbs
and nail them to the gables of your halls.
Do not cut off our voices with our heads.
Do not come to us with mirrors for fear
of being turned to stone and slaughter
all of our many-headed reflections.
Do not lure us with scantily clad
innocent-eyed virgin daughters
lest you become a monster,

sacrificing the last vestiges
of humanity for love of conquering.
If you kill us you will not be satisfied
dominating the otherworld of Annwn.
You will seek out other lands sailing forth
fervourous in your white-prowed ships
with burning swords and fiery lances
crusading, enslaving, becoming
the monsters you dismissed.
If you gaze into the abyss

we will gaze back with a million
crippled one-eyed stares undulating
through the underworld of your Empire
devouring ruined tower blocks bearing
all those you enslaved and conquered
shouting their defiance of your rules
in our splendiferous serpent skins,
riding aboard monstrous eyelids.
“Slaughterers behold the truth:
the abyss also gazes into you!”

*This glosa has a loose basis in the depiction of the monsters of Annwn in ‘The Battle of the Trees’ in The Book of Taliesin. Here Taliesin battles on the side of the magician god, Gwydion, who conjures a host of trees against the forces of Annwn, the Brythonic underworld. The warrior-bard later accompanies Arthur on his raid on Annwn, plundering its treasures. I also reference other monster-slaying tales such as Beowulf and Peredur.

Lorna Smithers

Lorna Smithers profile pic IILorna Smithers is an awenydd, Brythonic polytheist, and devotee of Gwyn ap Nudd recovering lost stories from the land and myths of forgotten gods and dreaming new ones. She is the author of Enchanting the Shadowlands and The Broken Cauldron, and has edited and co-edited A Beautiful Resistance. She blogs at Signpost in the Mist.

You can help us pay Lorna and other anti-capitalist Pagans and witches at Gods&Radicals here. And thanks!