Canongate myth series no. 2 – Dream Angus
Dream Angus – The Celtic God of Dreams is a retelling of the myth of Angus, a popular and attractive giver of the Celtic mythology of Ireland and Scotland. Angus is a giver of dreams, an Eros, a figure of youth (all good things! Lucky Angus). He comes down to us from Irish mythology, but he is encountered, too, in Celtic Scotland. He is a benign figure – handsome and playful – who in modern times has inspired not only the poem of W.B. Yeats, “The Song of Wandering Aengus’, but also the lilting Scottish lullaby, ‘Dream Angus’.
Besides the retelling of Angus life story from how his mother, the water spirit, Boann and father, Dagda met, we are offer a glimpse of day-today plebeian who has yearnings and dreams. There is Jamie who is sad for his brother Davey’s leaving to Canada. A cynical tale about the boy Mark who found out his father is not his real father and Uncle Angus, his mother’s brother, came to talk to him one night giving Mark a nightmare. There is also another tale of clone pig and its unambitious pig keeper who is happy and contented. An unfaithful wife. A couple on holiday. A woman who is separated from her husband.
I also learn a Scottish expression: Gleikit meaning not quite all there; one sandwich short of the full picnic. 🙂
My favourite passage:
She looked at him. One of the surprising things in all this, she thought, is the sheer otherness he is another person; he is not me. And there is a bit of him, of what makes him himself, which i shall never know, never touch. Something which I don’t know the word for. The soul? No. Well, maybe. That, whatever it is, will never be mine.
The teacher looked through the window, beyond the fence around the school, across the road to the rolling hills. He could not make out this boy, try as he might; he could not understand him. He was happy enough ass far as he could tell, and the parents seems all right- nothing special, but a decent couple. Perhaps that was the trouble. If one was unhappy at home one might want to get away, to do something different, but if one was contented then one might be include to stay.
‘So you wouldn’t like to be a doctor? Something like that?’
‘What would you want to be then?’
‘That’s no answer’.
When he left school, that same teacher said to him, ‘You’re an odd one, you know. But you know what? I reckon you’re happier than all the others. You really are. And this job you’ve got yourself , I suspect you’ll do that very well.’ – The boy that became the pig keeper in the Research centre.
Angus spoke. ‘It is the search for beauty’ he said. ‘That is what it is. We find ourselves on this earth – gods and men – and we know that it is beautiful. That is one of the few things we understand – beauty; because it is there, in the world, and we can see it all about is. We want beauty. It requires our love. It just does.
In the introduction, McCall Smith said: Myth is a cloud based upon a shadow based upon the movement of the breeze, but I think life is such as well. It is a different McCall Smith than the one I know of in No.1 Lady Detective Agency series. He writes in sheer simplicity, fused with allegory and surrealism as he unites dream and reality, leaving us to wonder: What is life but the pursuit of dreams?
Ambition or just pure dreaming is something I do all the time. In my dreams, I may live in another time of my life, or meet someone I haven’t met for a long time, or being in another country. I think dreams are very powerful. Have you had a lucid dream? A dream which you know you are dreaming. It’s a dream that gives you great power, because you can control what happens. Have you had a dream like that before?
It’s about ambition, contentment, ambition, nightmare, dream and most of all it’s about life in pursuit of dreams. But as McCall Smith said,
Age and experience might make us sombre and cautious, but there is always an Angus within us – Angus the dreamer.
So read the book and revive the dreamer in you.
Paperback. Publisher: Canongate 2007; Length: 173 pages; Setting: Celtic Myth and modern day Ireland and Scotland. Source: Library Loot. Finished reading at: 2 May 2010.