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Dhrupad 6 (May river)

They will fall down into their own rivers, these words these sentences finding their own surface will settle for a familiar winding light in warm beds slowly downwards to their own sighing roaring silence. Though they are not nor ever have been mine to give, you have them now flowing on from this to that a single seamless thread gathered from the highest open grasslands, gathered from just below the sky the slow drip down the vast vast vast drip down of water towards a centre of word, towards a winding tongue a weaving mind weaving sky and sound, skin and sky a story river sky river down to story silver river….

Only there, there, where the people have sunk into the land singing their stone memory bones, grey weathered on ridge shrouded elder clouds, something home death something home small cooing death, nature death smell, cream smooth death mother humming bees smell, humming stars death smell, secret curve woman death star bone smell, life death star death cooking smell. Only where the words have turned to winds and wind to rain, and bracken shields the adder’s tangle in the warm vast moist morning, the vast mist morning of the criss cross and spiral morning, of the tangled spiral adder’s tongues honey soft morning. Only where the red kites wheel and the buzzards on their watching posts watching down the old quiet roads, the rocking cracking moment by moment roads footstep views and sound sound river bird and breeze roads, the sudden view shift roads, the next last corner roads, the lost remembering roads.

Only on the beginningless roads beginning now now again sprung from grass now flowering grass now cowslips now bluebells now now the white sprinkled roads and the naughty weighted scented hawthorn heavy aired hedged about and field threaded and in the shades the holy blue the holy white the holy blood pink campion splatter and the enunciation of curly topped fern fingers finding licking tasting airy edge and warm soft soil and all and a round world edge a round world edge a round sun filled edge honey edged May in lanes and long low spiral lands and lolling loping hills folded around the fingers of the oak oh the old oak uplands upwards old and upwards the silence and psalms of spiral havens daylight to dusk to stars lit to keep off the cold cold space of silence somewhere else somewhere other rivers fall slowly down slowly drift and they will fall down too into their own rivers, these stars bright hiss finding their own surfaces, winding light just as if just as if and the adder’s ridge and the elder’s curve and the bones of morning in the warm beds of May and the mother humming and the vast, the vast the vast

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DHRUPAD 2 (night)

Slow now, night now, moon now, night now. The eye shadowed, land shadowed, mind shadowed, night now, owls now, in mind shadows and moon mind too. Cloud shadowed and fine mist light drifting wood ways, the river sky, the river wood, the river mind, the moon a drop. A drop down, suspended, held drift the night words outwards, upwards, slow now upwards, star and drift and dark shadow and cloud upwards along the light line the shadow mind cool cool in moon and deep drowned one mind slain and and and no more lost no more moon no more slope to sing the river forest sky rain cloud ways slow now, slow the moon now, the deep now the silent now the shadows. Now.

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DHRUPAD 1 (mountain air)

slow now, slow the grey cool,

slow
the
way
down.

The gods love this – space free of souls,

no
weight
of prayer.

Small thought light as wings, light on light,

shimmer stacking cloud.

The journey is one breath belonging to horizons
all ours.

They hover here,
hover here,

endless attractors
the cascading distant waters,
the air breezed
from
high
ice
centuries abiding in white.

Slow now, the in and out

suffering little from its movement,

revolving an axis honeyed.

If there are words, they become smudged distance. If there is

sound,

it drifts cloud and misty vapour,

sand, grained and free,

slipping
sift
away,

slow, now, slow.

I have been listening to a lot of Classical Indian music lately, especially rudra veena and surbahar that are instruments ideal to interpret the ancient style of dhrupad. Dhrupad is a vocal devotional music that slowly and thoroughly uncovers the notes and patterns of each piece. There is a lot of repetition and sequences, and although words are sung, it is the emotion within the notes of the raga that creates its profound effect. These poems take some of the rotational effects of dhrupad and its exploration of motifs and rhythm. Originally written as a continuous text, they will best be presented in an open arrangement so that the eye intuits the timing of its narration/reading by the various groupings of words and phrases. (I do not think I will be able to accomplish it very well here within this page structure, but hopefully there will be some of the flavour I intended). There may be something of e. e. cummings, and something of Harold Budd, something of the word patterns of George Macbeth and something of the helter-skelter pace of Dylan Thomas. But most of all, I hope, the slow savouring of sound and image suggested by the alap and jhor of dhrupad.

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HAIKU : ALAP AND JOR ALAP

Raag Bhairavi
Alap of blackbirds
Rain cooling breeze.

Liquid air
Alap of blackbirds
Wind tampura.

Cloud blooms blackbird’s song
New green sways dances
Welcome rains welcome breezes
Mind tongue tastes cool day
Touch settled on clear moments.

(Classical Indian music is arranged in developmental sections. First, is a slow alap where the notes of the scale (raga, raag) are explored in relation to the pakad or thematic melody of the piece. Next comes a jor alap, which is slightly more structured with a rhythmic percussive accompaniment on the chikari strings ( akin to strumming on the guitar combined with a lead melody picked out).
Raag Bhairavi is one of my favorites. I believe it is a morning raag, but has a rather haunting and melancholy pakad with a lovely descent of notes.)

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