Online here, with audio!
When I read this, I was struck by the distinctive voice, which came through clearly even without audio. The reading didn't sound quite the way I pictured it the poem in my head, or quite the way I pictured Griffiths in my head (I imagined both as less fairy-like and more warrior-like). Nonetheless, I thought the reading was well delivered and fit the poem beautifully. I would totally elect the bearer of that voice as queen of my troupe of magical fairies. (I'm glad Griffiths can't hear me, or she'd probably be inspired to barf on my shoes.)
The poem is written in the voice of a queen ant, whose anthill has just been raided by birds. She explains the situation in S1, and admonishes the workers for failing to give the alarm. In S2, she encourages the surviving troops to clean up the anthill, and promises to tell them rousing tales of their formic heritage. In S3, she tells off a caterpillar! And in S4, she gives a little pep talk.
While I discerned the basic outline of the poem quickly, I had to think hard to work out the details, thanks to all the puns, portmanteaus, obscure words, and neologisms. Here's a list of puzzling words, in the order in which they appear in the poem, and my best guesses as to their meanings.
- pismire: an archaic synonym for "ant"
- kreck: onomatopoeia for the noise the Plumeys make
- Plumeys: ant-eating birds
- valley-balls: eggs. Pun on volleyballs.
- lupes: pupae
- liplap danglers: larvae
- mussled: portmanteau of "mussed" and "tousled"
- distrayed: portmanteau of "distressed" and "disarrayed", with a nice coincidental "strayed" inside it.
- "oakmost": something like "farthest". A portmanteau of "oak" and "utmost", but there's no meaning that lives halfway between those two points.
- larum: an archaic synonym for "alarm"
- beware: is not technically a transitive verb, but there's poetry for you. "Warn" wouldn't have worked as well in this context.
- mordered in our buds: murdered in our beds, obviously. "Buds" is a pun, because you're more likely to find an ant in a bud than in a bed, and this poem is filled with nature imagery. (They're actually in an anthill, not in buds, but let's not kill it with excessive literalness here, eh?) "Mord" is an Indo-European root meaning, basically, "die". We get "murder" and "mortality" from it.
- simlings: a portmanteau of "similar" and "siblings". Other ants are not exactly genetic clones of the queen: the workers are produced by sexual reproduction with drones and reproducing females, while drones are haploid and produced from unfertilised eggs (so really, they're sort of half-queens).
- heedance: archaic word for "listening". (I'm reluctant to say "synonym" because they're a bit too different grammatically. I think it's standard but weird English to say "gather round in heedance", but you just plain can't say "gather round in listening".) I'm not sure whether "heedance" was ever common in actual usage, or whether it's one of those fake archaisms.
- bellish: archaic synonym for "embellish". Again, I'm not sure whether it's a real archaism or a fake one.
- bloomheads: blossoms; this one is just a new compound word.
- sparkish: bright like a spark. Also, sparkly. This one breathes new life into a dead metaphor.
- cusp and susp: Cusps are pointy bits. I don't know what "susp" means, aside from "suspend" or "suspension". I suppose the ants are going to stop at the top of the anthill to listen to stories?
- trell: I don't know what this means, if anything. Urbandictionary says "trell is a term given to the most beautiful woman", which fits, but Urbandictionary is not a reliable source. Roughly "queens and trells and hellent warfor" must be kinds of ants.
- hellent warfor: I'm lost here too. "hellent" sounds like "hellbent" and "warfor" sounds like "warrior", which makes the hellent warfor sound like brave soldiers. "Hellent" also sounds like "Hellenic", which gives this story a classical feel. "Warfor" sounds like "warfarin", but that's used to poison rats, and I don't think it has anything to do with ants. So I'm puzzled.
- fattyfiller: caterpillar
- seggy bodments: body segments.
- munge: munch. Literally, though, to munge something is to muss it up.
- Peel off: a pun--both what you do when you leave quickly, and what you do when you remove a caterpillar from a leaf.
- mandicate: portmanteau of "masticate" and "mandibles"
- clingdom: portmanteau of "cling" and "kingdom"--I suppose it's our kingdom that we cling to.
- heapsake: portmanteau of "heap" and "keepsake"--I suppose it's our heap that's a keepsake.
- sylvan lea: woodsy meadow. But also, I think, put there to set up punning resonances with "silver sea".
- rejuice: portmanteau of "rejoice" and "juice". (I picture them clicking drooling mandibles.)
- avids: aphids, but literally, to be avid is to be keen.
- fallage: portmanteau of "fallen" and "foliage".
- mead: can mean either "honey wine" or "meadow". I think it's meant literally as the latter, but intended to resonate with the former too.
- ground and gladly: Obviously, in broad outline, this means "good", but I'm not sure what else the words are doing. Ants like things on the ground, and not, I suppose, their enemies in the air.
- Magog: a name that occurs in the bible numerous times, under numerous guises. (It's not entirely clear whether Magog is an individual or a group.) Pretty sure it's basically an enemy of God--and therefore, a fitting enemy for plumey things that live in the sky.
- smart: smite. Also, sting.