for fans of
Diana Wynne Jones


I am particularly proud of the fact that the sestina kept all the rules. This is about the imagination.

(Reputedly a Celtic Prince from Spain came ashore in Ireland singing this – not, I am sure, without previous arrangement, since he was instantly made welcome and offered a throne. As far as I can see it proclaims the singer an initiate of the very highest order)

I am the Wind that blows over the Sea
I am a Wave of the Ocean
I am the murmur of the billows
I am the Ox of seven combats
I am the Vulture on the rock
I am a Ray of the Sun
I am the fairest of Plants
I am a Wild Boar in valour
I am a Salmon in the Water
I am a Lake in the plain
I am the Craft of the artificer
I am a Word of Science
I am the spearpoint that gives battle
I am the God that creates in the head of man the fire of thought
Who is it that enlightens the assembly on the mountain, if not I?
Who tells the ages of the Moon, if not I?
Who shows the place where the Sun goes to rest, if not I?


(October 1998)

I am the salmon vaulting up the stream,
Wind’s force and wave’s form in the sea:
I am the spark igniting thought from dream.
I am rumbling surf, the oxen’s steam,
I wait on a rock for carrion, gild the tree –
I am the salmon vaulting up the stream.
I am the frail rose in the hedge, the gleam
Of a mad boar’s gnash, a fish-flick – see
I am the spark igniting thought from dream.
I am the low lake where the mountains seem
Scattered by winds – I hold all arts in me:
I am the salmon vaulting up the stream.
I am the word of power, the cutting beam
From the edge of war, mind’s energy –
I am the spark igniting thought from dream.
Who brings the tablets to the tribes, the scheme
Of sundown and moonphase, if not me?
I am the salmon vaulting up the stream,
I am the spark igniting thought from dream.


(October 1998

What am I? I am the energy
Of wind that howls on sea, I am the force
Of yelling storm. I am the inner form
Of lathering waves that this wild wind has made
And the sound of their breaking. I am whispering deep.
Purple beyond the headlands. All this I am.
I am a slow red beast with sickle form
Of horns upon my head, patient and deep
In valour, yoked to haul the heavy force
To war. My ruminant eyes have seen war made
Seven times. I gaze. My energy
Is rock where vulture sits. I watch. I am.
Who will tell me what gold thing I am,
Slanting from sunward? This my energy
Is light, pure light, a finger from the deep.
I am a sun’s ray and the flower made,
Unfolding to my earthward driving force
Young leaves, my tender petals, breathless form.
I am the angered boar, a faster force
Running than the eye conceives, and deep
Cunning in a thicket, skew-backed, made
For bravery. So fear my tusks. I am
A salmon in the water, hidden form
Bursting upwards, arch of energy.
I am a lowland lake, who knows how deep?
I contain the sky, I sleep. I am
The skill of hands to shape the earth, energy
Spitting to weld a wheel, the craft that made
Blueprints and fabrics, ability to form
Subtle objects. I am knowledge, force
That words of power have, science deep
In the head, the arrowpoint that’s made
Exactly for its target, flight in form.
I am fire in the mind. My energy
Creates all thought. This is what I am:
Strong current and still wisdom and brain’s force.
Who gave the form of laws to peoples, who made
Sense of the heavens, if not I? I am
Energy of moon and sun’s deep force.

Copyright © Diana Wynne Jones