Through Celtic Eyes: Patricia Carragon on Susan Maurer’s Maerchen

Maerchen, Susan H. Maurer, Maverick Duck Press, 2008

Mythology, colored by Druid shamans, inspired Susan H. Maurer to document her poetic journey, Maerchen. Like a Celtic design, Maurer’s thirteen poems weave the past into the 21st Century. Her fascination with Celtic history began in the basement of the Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village, New York, where she read about the Celts and Druids in The Encyclopedia of Religion. Although the facts of this edition of The Encyclopedia of Religion were questionable according to a revised edition, learning about the myths and poetic traditions sent Maurer on her Celtic quest.

While sitting on a porch in Kennebunkport, Maine, Maurer meditated on the music of Brahms and the rustling branches of a two-hundred-year-old tree. Mesmerized by music and Nature, she heard her muse calling. On her return trip to New York, Maurer transformed her magical experience into Maerchen. As you peruse her words, you will understand Maurer’s love of trees and her dislike of cutting them down for religious celebration. She writes:

Good things push up from the earth to feed us…
The seasons, barbarically waste pines to decorate
Them, tarting them up in the process
Making them ugly which they were not in the forest
Where we still worship
Rockefeller Center’s shed on
Needles from a silenced giant god

According to Celtic legend, trees were a vital part of their tradition, and thus sacred like poetry and music. The two-hundred-year-old tree and the music of Brahms are protagonists here, as well as the author’s need to relive her journey through Celtic eyes. However, you will soon learn that Maurer’s quest is not for religion, but for respect of Nature without succumbing to myth or dogma. She is a modern woman with a desire to question and a need for reason, balancing intelligence with artistry. We do not know the actual identity of Maurer’s muse. But in Nemeton, she hints that the tree back in Kennebunkport might be it:

I could consider
I am steadied by the
Broad-based Giant beside me.
There may be some similarity in
Our patterns of respiration.
I may feel we breathe in time. The tree may not.
Its leafy reach four stories high
Exceeds my grasp. The tree may be
Telling me this story.

Susan H. Maurer transcends mythology and breathes reason and drama into Maerchen. Maurer is an enlightened storyteller and the tree back in Kennebunkport must have told her these stories.


Patricia Carragon is a New York City writer and poet. Her publications include Best Poem, BigCityLit, CLWN WR, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, Ditch Poetry, First Literary Review-East, Inertia, Lips, MÖBIUS The Poetry Magazine, Marymark Press, Maintenant, Mad Hatters’ Review, The Mom Egg, New Verse News, The Toronto Quarterly, Word Salad, and more. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press). She is a member of Brevitas, a group dedicated to short poems. She hosts and curates the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor of the annual anthology. Her latest book is Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press).