"And there are among them composers of verses whom they
call Bards; these singing to insturments similar to a
lyre, applaude some, while they vituperate others."
Diodorus Siculus - (Histories) 8 BC
"The Bards", says Phillip Carr-Gomm in Elements of the Druid Tradition, "were keepers of tradition, of the memory of the tribe".
The Bardic grade is the first grade in the Druid order. Traditionally, all knowledge was handed down from mouth to ear, commiting nothing to writing I assume so it would not be profaned by the uninitiated into the "mysteries".
Although the Bard is the first grade of Druidry it doesn't imply a rank per se as much as it does a 'job description'. In fact a highly skilled Bard at one time was held in high esteem.
Some of the traditional 'duties' of a Bard would be to master the records and genealogy of their tribe, to keep alive traditions and heritage, and aquire other peoples stories and poems. Quoting again from Elements of the Druid Tradition, "To carry the records of the tribe they needed to know the stories and poems which preserved the lineage and lore of their people, but to be Masters of Inspiration they needed to compose their own poems and tales."
I suppose personally that in this day and time that the task of the Bard is the study of the liberal arts as much as anything else. And since I'm inserting a personal viewpoint here, I think that language arts and genealogy should also be priorities in there also. Which turns one turn of the spiral for me on this web site, being my genealogy page which, as I said earlier was a project inspired by my study of Druidry and vice-versa.
Of course there is more to this path than just the obvious. But to find those things you have to walk it. And so for now I leave you in the spirit of the birch with a poem:
I am sitting upon a stone.
The stone is sitting upon the earth.
The stone is one with the earth.
I feel the stone's strength, solidity,
Sense its stability.
It vibrates with life.
A vibration answers from within me.
I am one with the stone.
I am one with the earth...
I sit beside a spring.
I part the water with my hand,
And it yields to my touch,
Gently caressing my skin,
Carrying away my cares.
The water quenches my thirst,
The sound soothes my ear.
It reflects the world, it purifies.
I am one with the water...
I watch a hawk soaring in the sky.
I breathe in the air.
Feel the breeze blowing around me.
It carries sounds to my ear.
The voice of the spirit speaks in the wind.
I see a leaf floating down.
Freely, and yet...
I take another breath, then a third.
I am one with the air...
I light a single candle against the darkness.
As I do I feel the light permeate my being.
I feel the warmth from its glow.
Burning away my shackles.
I am at once reminded of the Phoenix.
Dawns first rays break the horizon,
As if to say, "Awake, now is the time to Do!"
And as the new day is born,
I am one with the fire...
I am only one, even so...I am One.
sing my sally song
of thin green and orange
symphony of leaves
deep go the seeds
down go the reeds
rivers torrent wide
birds flying southward
spears of spring once stowed
the raven waits her cawh
the old grow older
the nights grow colder
dancing in the sheaves
sing my sally song
as the nights grow long
I come to you at even tide
I am Autumn.