Birds of Rhiannon

Section 3 – All I Wish to Own

The “Birds of Rhiannon” are three black birds from Irish mythology. Their song can wake up the dead and put the living to sleep. When they are singing, they sound like they are very close. However, when you look for them, they appear to be across an ocean and can barely be seen.
The Birds are described in The Mabinogion:

They went to Harlech, and sat down and were regaled with food and drink. As soon as they began to eat and drink, three birds came and began to sing them a song, and all the songs that they had heard before were harsh compared to that one. They had to gaze far out over the sea to catch sight of the birds, yet the song was as clear as if the birds were there with them. And they feasted for seven years.

They that wake the dead and lull the living asleep.
The Mabinogion – Oxford University Press

The text on the drawing comes from Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird:

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

 
The colors of The Birds of Rhiannon come from a close-up view of a tropical bird’s feather.


 

The Music Behind All I Wish to Own

 

Intermezzo in A Major played by Julius Katchen

 



 

Boots of Spanish Leather by Bob Dylan