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This mountain sails through its weather

just as it moves through the centuries.

Magnanimous, it shelters all under its shadow.

Infinitely patient, it welcomes all,

Folding their tired dust into that long gaze.

The mountain, settled in its own weight

Breathes whispering streams and roots.

In the garden a robin sings in light rain.

The autumn winds curl the edges of leaves.

Dogs bark, uneasy from their white walled farms.

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clouds roll

mixed with sunlight

slowly down

the side of Y Garn Dwad.

the hay is in now

so let it rain a warm rain.

now, now, everything green

reaches upward in one great exhale.

the towers of summer stretch out, bow down.

there is thunder

in the distance, so they say,

and the rivers will soon be filled again.

the surface of Llyn Berwyn though,

shall not be troubled for long:

it will return to its quiet reflection

of hills and cloud,

the brown trout

hardly noticing

a world

that cannot decide

between this and that.

held firm it is, unperturbed,

the lake that lies

in earth’s firm

folded hands.

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Nine Ripples on the Lake


Will it take your names, all your histories,

your reasons for and against?

Will it hear them while it gazes,

timeless, at the timeless changing skies?

Unless you remain in the depths of it,

unless you lose the skin and bones you love,

unless you become welded, wedded to the flow

of remaining still, staying silent,

you cannot know anything of it

but what it is not.

What its eye beholds: an endless upward gaze

of shaping ancestral cloud.

It is an open mouth modelling syllables of ripples,

the sweet rain and beating grey hail.

This steady rest is your antithesis,

O comrades who dig and delve,

who shape and mark out and name

and lose, slash and burn and wonder why

loss is loss and always so painful.

Painful enough for songs that will not be forgotten,

the badge of emptiness and of dogged continuance.

Though you are beautiful in your ways,

you are not as beautiful as this.

Though you belong and hold on, tenacious, to that belonging,

you cannot belong as much as this mirror-edged bright shimmering.

Sit here and do not move. One century, two centuries,

a thousand years, the centuries before forests, before the lands drowned,

before ice, even, as the blackbird pecked the anvil to a nut,

as a stag became tree, and the oak watched as the salmon flicked

its rainbow waters.

The rivers locked and singing here in silver chains, in golden chains.

The lament you hear is your bloodrush, your heartbeat.

The sorrow you feel is your food and your sustenance in darkness.

Hatched and growing, you will swim and wriggle across the oceans,

the rivers beneath the sea ( its orchards, its plough boys,

Its bright jingling chariots, its proud, proud horses in the morning.)

Knowing nothing and knowing everything.

This is how water is, how the lake is.

A metaphor for everything else.

Shimmering mirror memory.

Look down into the highest heaven.

The moment it is reached for, it disappears

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The year tumbles fast now

towards its closing.

Dragon’s breath swathes the hill

In the middle of the morning,

and the grasses lie damp and lank all day.

The sun is distracted, its thoughts elsewhere.

The rivers race through the night with the rumbling stars.

Our moon flicks its light

from dim to sharp to dim.

Days of storm follow days of cold still calm.

Growth stutters and halts,

the trees reach for their golds and browns.

Plans compress or are abandoned.

What is not done, now can wait.

The fires are lit in dark mornings now.

The fires are all lit.

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Between heaven and earth

John Price, there, was a blackbird before rain,

a song thrush in the evening.

He kept to small lanes

and taught others his delight

at the end of a hard day.

Carpenter, son of a carpenter,

between the rolling roads and rising views,

between Llangammarch and Beulah,

he measured with a clear eye

the mortice and tenon of his rhymes,

turning the tune, tapping home the notes.

His voice heard mellifluous

by the hills and rivers,

by the gathered singing poor,

by maid and shepherd,

by schoolchildren and labourers.

To sing in chains

is to watch the chains


John Price ‘Beulah’ was born in Llangammarch. He learned his music from a couple of skilled local music teachers, particularly the ‘sol fa’ systems of notating music. Apart from a couple of years in America, where quite a lot of his music was published, he spent his life as an estate carpenter, teaching music and local choirs around the Irfon valley in his spare time. He was a prolific and influential hymn writer in the early 20th century, and also wrote many popular songs. His work did much to promote local choirs, so central to the characher of Welsh rural life.

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The way colours remain long into the grey autumn.

The way the hanging cones resemble syllables

Lingering on the tongue’s tip,

Or kanji haiku brushed carefully careless.

The way these larches let go and dance

On pale cooling hills.

The way images blur and smudge but remain themselves:

Brushstrokes of careless, magnified light.

An autumn aesthetic: nostalgic patterns floating.

Delicacy and decay: look close and the world

Disappears into light.

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Green rock, black root

time is the river

that shapes this world.

Green rock, black root

sentience emerges

from realising relationship.

Green rock, black root

life is born from the seed

of sullen gods who found love.

Green rock, black root

this world, so full of sorrow,

this world, so full of bliss.

The familiar will fall away,

as leaves before the autumn wind,

as leaves before winter.

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