Brand New Ancients
By Kate Tempest
In the old days,
the myths were the stories we used to explain ourselves
but how can we explain
the way we hate ourselves?
The things we’ve made ourselves into,
the way we break ourselves in two,
the way we overcomplicate ourselves?
But we are still mythical.
We are still permanently trapped
somewhere between the heroic and the pitiful.
We are still Godly,
that’s what’s made us so monstrous.
It just feels like we’ve forgotten
that we’re much more
than the sum of the things that belong to us.
Every single person has a purpose in them burning.
Allow yourself to see them.
Millions of characters
Each with their own epic narratives
Singing, ‘it’s hard to be an angel
Until you’ve been a demon’.
We are perfect because of our imperfections,
We must stay hopeful,
We must be patient;
When they excavate the modern day
They’ll find us,
The Brand New Ancients.
All that we have here
Is all that we’ve always had.
We have jealousy,
curses and gifts.
But the plight of a people who have forgotten their myths
and imagine that somehow
now is all that there is –
is a sorry plight
all isolation and worry
but the life in your veins
it is Godly, heroic.
You were born for greatness.
know it –
take it from the tears of the poets.
there’s always been heroes,
there’s always been villains,
the stakes may have changed
but really there’s no difference.
there’s always been greed
and heartbreak and ambition.
trespass and contrition,
we’re the same beings that began,
in all of our fury and foulness and friction.
Dreams vs decisions.
The stories are there if you listen.
The stories are here.
The stories are you
and your fear and your hope is as old
as the language of smoke,
the language of blood,
the language of languishing love,
the Gods are all here.
Because the Gods are in us.
Kate Tempest is the winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2012 with Brand New Ancients. She started out when she was 16, rapping at strangers on night buses and pestering MCs to let her on the mic at raves. Ten years later she is a published playwright, poet and respected recording artist.
Related Off-site Links:
Kate Tempest’s Transformations – Jon Michaud (The New Yorker, May 10, 2016).
Kate Tempest: "I Engage With All of Myself, Which Is Why It’s Dangerous" – Dorian Lynskey (The Guardian, April 30, 2017).
See also the previous posts:
• In American Gods, An Otherworldly Depiction of Queer Attraction and Connection
• Ganymede and Zeus
• Minotaur with Hare
• Lunar Deity
• I Call to Cernunnos . . .
Image 1: Urtreen by Sergei.
Image 2: Kate Tempest by David Levene.