Guest Editor: Marilyn Nelson, Academy of American Poets Chancellor, March 17, 2014

Cashel Man

by Sean Frederick Forbes



Cashel, Ireland, 2,000 B.C.



In ancient Ireland, bogs were sacred

areas; a cool wetland mirage meters

deep of peat during demoralizing

drought. Greenish-brown landscape

of mystery, insufferably slow plant

growth. What must a farmer have

thought as his wife offered a vessel

of golden butter to appease a merciless

deity? He plunges his hand deep into

the bog, brings a handful of drenched

soil to his eyes, squeezes and watches

as his hairy forearms stain a deep rust.


At home, he listens to the tink tink

of his wife's dull bronze bracelets

against her wan wrists. He thinks

about the young King's wife in all
her finery. Would this Queen of hope

sacrifice her coveted amulets to bring

good rain? No, he turns his attention

to the King's body; of average height,

imperially slim, easy to force him back

to the russet hill of his kingship initiation,

bludgeon him, revel in his failure to defend

himself, break at least two limbs, watch


him writhe, listen as he squeaks for help,

twist his limp, clothed body into the fetal

position, cradle his offering with bloodied,

bruised hands, trusting this delicate flesh

will nourish the goddess's appetite.


Copyright � 2014 by Sean Frederick Forbes. Used with permission of the author.

About This Poem 

"This poem is about Cashel man, a bog body of a young male around twenty to twenty-five years of age found in Cashel, Ireland, dating back to 2,000 B.C. His body was intentionally covered with peat in order to preserve the body. One theory suggests that he could have been the young king of this region that was suffering a devastating drought and that his body was a sacrificial offering to a female deity. This poem is my imagining of the motive behind this sacrificial death."


--Sean Frederick Forbes
Most Recent Book by Forbes

(2Leaf Press, 2013) 







Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-A-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends. Browse the Poem-A-Day Archive.  

Sean Frederick Forbes is the author of Providencia (2Leaf Press, 2013). He teaches at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. 

Related Poems
by Thomas James
Red String
by Minnie Bruce Pratt 
The Odyssey, Book 11: ll. 538-556
by Rowan Ricardo Phillips 

Love reading Poem-A-Day?
Help support it today.

Thanks for being a part of the Academy of American Poets community. To learn about other programs, including National Poetry Month, Poem in Your Pocket Day, the annual Poets Forum, and more, visit