Fianna! by Fiona Russell Dodwell


through winters spent watching ‘round fires not your own
keep silent your stewardship, never be found

though hip-deep in mud as spears fly at your brow
stand firm unhurt; be unblemished; don’t frown

though nine ride through forests to tear off your braids
you leave them untied; you leave them unbound

though crisp twigs and dry leaves, they crackle and split
run leaving no trace; run making no sound

though skittish and deer-like you flit over land
inhabit a burrow; inherit the ground

though the clans fight with fervour, and you are their bait
stay in between – both divide and surround

though the pain is too much as you race through the briars
pluck the thorns from your feet without slowing down

though their disbelief weakens you, and could confound
leap clear over giants; slide around clowns

though the mountain is wet and cold mist clouds the pass
yet see it all clearly; don’t slip; take the crown

these trials are hard, they would fox your best hounds
but carry this off and your people won’t drown


Fiona Russell Dodwell is from Fife and lives in the Fens. She has had poems published in IS&T and Earthlines (online). She attempts to write from the ‘felt’ sense, and explore how text contacts body and environment.


  1. What a vivid, beautiful, heartfelt poem. Reading this was very moving. I went back and read several times. I am always struck by how much there is to learn from what potential fianna members went through, to grow from in our time, even though (thankfully!) this is only metaphorically so. The in-between, so intimate and isolating, but worth everything. Well, at least I think it is. 🙂 Thank you.


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