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Posts Tagged ‘ancestors’

ARCHETYPAL

The hunter father transgresses;

The mother suffers unjustly;

The child is taken.

What was wonderful, vanishes.

The light disappears, no one knows where.

Roads, veils and mirrors –

The mechanics of universal dance,

The momentous, minuscule choice.

The bright, eternal child brought low,

Brought back to the wrist of the falconer,

Brought back to rule in glory,

Brought back to catch the uncatchable.

And all the time

It is she that saves the day,

Who bestows and restores balance,

Who names, who summons, who moves

Like a moon through darkness

Sorrowful and joyful and blissfully full.

And the child, neither here nor there,

Neither this nor that,

Tricked by innocence

To reveal the weakness,

To discover an impossible death,

To wait endlessly in the wings

For the lines of the last act,

The resolution.

I ask to know the truth

So that there may be understanding of power.

That the maps are unfolded

And the well-trod, invisible roads revealed.

Because we are free only to follow the well-worn ways,

Because there is only one plot and one story

From the beginning.

Because, tried and tested are the grey chains.

Because, tried and tested is the only freedom.

The rules of falling, and of redemption.

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WAR HAS CAST THEM

War has cast them off the mountain

And they have never yet returned

Except their tattered ghosts minding flocks

And the wind and the rain and the ravens.

The stone, green under soil.

The soil, black under sedge.

The distance sailing above cloud

Shaped by worlds beyond reach,

Reciting the names, reciting the names.

SOME GO

They weave these times of plague

with threads of brighter days.

Sharing the names of farms and families:

Nain, hen nain, hen hen nain,

and the tales of the tales she told.

The hearths swept and re-laid

for an eventual return

after the storms of the world blow by;

the family bible left open at Lamentations.

Some go into the hills,

finding the silent walls

moss green, wide strewn;

the signs all but lost,

like the songs of living and dying:

the songs of harvest, the songs of planting,

the songs of weaving, the songs of lamenting,

the songs of losing and of finding.

It is the songs of living

that we have lost forever;

the songs of simple doing

that told us we were not alone

in feeling the rhythms of breath

as muscles worked and tasks completed.

It is all silent in the hills now.

cloud and curlew,

raven and lark.

Memories fade

as the farmhouse walls

tumble under moss.

Hold on to the names,

the farms, the families,

the cherished dead.

Over their heads

the world changes.

Plague days,

words dying.

The Epynt is an area of high uplands between the Brecon Beacons and the Cambrian Mountains in Mid Wales. A strong, rural, Welsh speaking area, the Epynt was cleared of people at the start of the Second World War so that the land could become an artillery training area. Eighty farms were given a few months to pack up and leave, breaking and dispersing a robust culture to find their own way miles away from their homes. After eighty years the land is still possessed by the government and this year many descendents have got together to remember their families, where they lived, where they moved, who remembers tales of the old days.

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Viscum album (mistletoe)

From the druid vision it creeps through neural caverns back to the arc of ancestral voices

In the dark lodge of backbrain, the spine tree, which, from there the roots of the tongue,

Fire it forwards boiled by breath in the cauldron of the mouth.

It emerges complete, an ejected god-form brilliantly swathed, a gold-pinned cloak.

A body of light this beast has become, from wild to wise, from wrathful to illumined.

.

From whence do we grow?

Not from the left leaf, nor the right leaf, but from the point in between.

We grow from the dividing point, from neither and from nor,

Balanced and hefted the spear of green life thrusts deep into the dark secret of the world

And becomes born.

.

So thus, mould the dark to ferment the light.

The dark muscle fires the star blood.

The poison well, the poison cauldron,

That is the only place to distil wisdom.

As the youth ejaculates deep into the warm folded love of his girl,

As the tongue searches each grunt and scream for music and rhyme,

The light will not come forth because it has goodness.

It must have fuel to burn: some dark slick greasy remains,

The blubber and wrack of melted lives,

The dancing skeleton god breaking bones and sucking marrow.

.

He is not a druid who knows not this.

He is not a man of skill who does not refine the ore of remembering,

Who does not balance the two ways and find the third and only way

Through pain and despair to a steady roaring bright flame of light.

This is the third and last piece based on the image below, which is from a Celtic coin. The words were explorations to find meaning for the strange and powerful imagery. In this part, the resemblance of the motif coming out of the mouth to those that appear in other coin designs suggest it might be a form of mistletoe, or at least, the sacred tree of which mistletoe might be an archetype.

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A FALL OF KINGS

Crow! Crow! I can hear your voice across the valley,

keening and laughing, looking for your shadow

in the sunlight.

The heart may break into pieces

but the head will still go on nattering.

It can never stop, so used

to being fed by roots and wings

from its buried pit, from its damp, deep well.

It summons up and sees what there is and what is not.

.

A dying comet streaks beauty in the slowest of motions,

upright as a ballerina melted by the music –

Posed and poised, palest and vanishing,

though here, still here, in the dawn light.

.

A voice like last night’s river

hidden in the oak valley,

down by the alders

down by the willows

in their midnight silences.

.

A voice like the morning road

across the valley side,

the streams of bright hope

rolling with ridiculous purposes,

speeding on, diminishing, diminishing.

.

Beauty as it dissolves.

As it becomes something else.

Never moving, but dragged

into other orbits.

We move and stay still,

shine and are dissolved

by the shining.

.

This is what the deep head says;

(the streaming golden head, brocaded

and folded with glory, the red-gold hair

in the golden morning).

The heart with rivers,

the heart with sunlight,

the bones that drag themselves together

from the long dream, and come together

in semblances of something already understood.

The faint, faint sighing hiss of erosion.

.

Crow! Crow!

I hear you laughing across the valley.

The wheel never ends of the horizon,

and all its doors firmly shut for now,

so we can listen and laugh and return

to dreaming a world of bright never-ending.

.

She burns still in the sky.

Return, return!

and that she can never do.

Pale and white-skinned and broken-hearted,

burning, slowly revolving all the fragments of grieving.

Time emptying out, filling up, emptying out.

The head and the heart and the white, white bones.

.

A song as we die, Crow!

Just one more glorious lament.

It is what we were born for, what we can bear,

what will break us into four,

so we become our own horizon.

Smudged out by daylight.

Reborn as stars, the stories will say.

.

And you know them all, Crow!

All the songs, all the stories, Crow!

Laughing and singing

and keening and smiling

and calling from heart to heart,

from sun to shade to sun

across the dancing swallow-crowned,

cool-aired morning valley.

Buried in the sky, deep down in the sky,

in the well of sparkling, starry waters.

Everything is nothing,

and that is perfectly

as it should be.

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THE PERFECT MEMORY

Chapel oak frames the bright morning.

Crow’s wings: black, white, black, in the early sun.

I have reached into perfect memory

And drawn out a continuous stream,

Beyond names, beyond form.

A song from the bright, wondrous world.

.

My heart is burst into four,

Sundered and cast again into gold.

It hangs by threads strong enough for eternity.

Morning now as hushed as breath of nine maidens.

The slow, rotating mists that rise and sigh.

This summit cannot be reached by thought,

But by the rhythm of steady walking.

It goes beyond names, it goes beyond forms.

.

We have moved beyond safety in the ship of chant.

The confederacy of the senses murmurs in discontent.

Currents and cross-tides and the hidden lands beneath

Steer us whether we choose or not.

It has always been so: these sea roads as fixed as stars

And the stones that measure them staring from the shoreline cliffs.

.

A year and a day: that shall be the last feast.

Months-long travel for the final gathering of memory.

The sowing of seed, the tilling of the soil, the hiding of light.

The letting go, the letting go.

Bones buried, doors locked.

.

Pink thrift on the foreshore.

The horizon unsullied.

We shall sink down in grief here.

Washed away, washed away.

.

White crow, black crow, of perfect recollection.

Beyond names, beyond forms.

We are all gathered up –

The long roads mapped between stars,

The final feast where all is swallowed up.

.

Bright are the beams of its hall.

Its fires, a delight, and its succour complete.

Light and dark the chapel oak holds firm.

Vast are the teachings within silence.

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THE SHOUT

1

Anchor my mouth in the sun

and let it roar the world’s width

to wake the dreamers

and to find the tides

to race the weed and wrack

and sweep the land clean once more.

A hook is my word

for to catch the shining, leaping warriors.

It is cast out in the waters of the air,

in the brightness of the morning.

It is laced with gold and the promise of blood,

the crunch of bones in the jaws of wolves and foxes,

the ravens collecting the last fading visions of the slain,

The souls, brave souls, looking for new forms in the wild hills.

A hook well tied to reel in the strong eels of wriggling passion

Well knotted to call them back for gold and glory and another day of war.

Deep rooted my tongue in the synaptic shudders of the past.

Deep rooted my buried word grasping the chambers of stone.

Deep rooted so as to throw out long whip-branches

And a sturdy trunk with a thousand branches of meaning.

It is a shelter to the people, a roof and a feast hall.

This tree of persuasion, a fleet sent out by breath,

Each a vessel of contingency, an unassailable fortress of intent.

2

Battle boar sits on my head, roars though my mouth.

A bright god, bright as sun, bright as moon, springs from my tongue.

Its mind and my mind are united.

It is the circle of the land we are sworn to defend.

The circle of time we are to fulfil.

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PROLOGUE (dark druid arts)

I have sat down and tasted the words of the dead.

What do they taste of, the words of the dead?

They taste of the feathers of owls and the scent of old books.

They taste of domed silent libraries and the flow of a million minds.

They taste of iron and the flower of blood as it fills the mouth.

They taste of mud and rain and scythed grasses.

They taste of the forbidden, of the forgotten,

of the bitter and the everlasting.

They taste of answers and riddles and orifices.

I have sat down and watched them

As the old words make pictures,

As they attempt to communicate their forgotten truths

and the lying stories, and the power of breath and the power of song.

2

Let these sounds revolve slow:

The seed that sucks in water swells

Reaches out to worlds unseen

New airs moving, new sense, new scenes.

Becoming is leaving behind in darkness

That which feeds us still.

Moving out, moving out, peeling the familiar.

These fragments to be held without adjustment,

Without conclusion, as it were,

And if we were not shaping, as it were,

As if we knew somewhere deep already:

The old languages of the blood,

The old languages of potent dreaming.

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ON THE HILL OF ARBERTH

Shall we climb the yonder green mound?

Expand our view to the wide unseen horizon,

See wonders, see the unattainable brilliance?

I shall tell you a story where the darkness shines

As bright as the glory of day,

Where the horror shouts loud enough

To wake the doorkeeper between worlds,

Where the pictures come as clues to other strange things,

Where places reconstruct in cellular aggregations

Down the spine and the tides of new air

Tingles with the riddles of a new way

To lose certainty and find a better truth.

Rest now.

Time and space is full already with this world.

Watch as patterns shift.

In shadows and slowed moments

Other worlds can show themselves,

The other that is not the other.

( the woodpigeon’s grey cool song

And the deep green wind between the hills).

It is so full, so full.

Let go the river downwards.

Just below, just below the known

Are the vast halls of golden brocade,

The sapphire cool pavements, as it were.

Wait, unframing, un-naming.

Roads are small patterns of consistency.

Mingle the words of in and out.

Lay one on another without choosing.

Climb the green rise and see what might be seen:

Distance, shimmer, dazed,

What is there is elsewhere.

Soften and dissolve the sight –

That is the way, ( a voice says), to see outside.

The mirror ripples, water turns to rock.

The slow creatures stop to dream,

The warm air chants with bees’ hum.

One step without moving.

There is an art to it akin to drunkenness and despair.

Waiting, not wanting control, dissolving slightly,

Wavering a haze of possibility.

Silence. The deep is the dream

That dreams you here.

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CRAZY OLD MAN

We will not know

how great or small

our gods are

until we have searched

through all the rooms

of this house, uncovering

all the angels and monsters

that live there.

What we are,

in silence,

in the bright darkness

of the eternal starry night.

Whether nothing

or everything,

a spark or a whirlwind

or a bitter flaming tree.

They have left ripples

carved in rock.

They have put up

gateways of stone.

They have veered the hills

around the sunrise.

They have left songs

in the soil

that shepherded

the seeds there.

Dreaming, dreamer, dream:

a dream of awakening

does not bring any

dawn closer.

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ORKNEY SEQUENCES

1

The wind sings between the grey walls of the town.

It sings of long seas turned to green fields.

Small birds scatter and reform in flowing air.

Islands turn to cloud and then dissolve in the driving rains.

2

Perhaps the first thing you notice is the soft lilt of the land:

The way the colours slip from brown greens to sapphire greys,

And the sound of the waves, a ceaseless singing (that is also in the quiet voice

Of the people who slip between worlds and grey streets

In and out of tinkling tea shops, the warm must of cosy bars,

Turned around through doors by the sharp wind and its slap of cold rain).

3

This wind is not to be escaped from..

It has come this far from a world away.

Though you may wait awhile in the warm quiet,

You must leave to face the remorseless thrust of it.

4

So many miles crossing the earth.

So many miles across the air.

So many miles over the seas,

To the first hearth, the sparking fires,

The strong stone vulvas of the rolling lands

Arching green, gentle green from the green seas

From which the dead do dream,

To which the living return like swallows,

Like swallows sifting their songs, the scything memories.

The dead own all the songs, the songs feed the dead

And keep the fires of the living warm and strong.

5

Deserted farmsteads scattered the slopes

Weathered grey skulls, window eyes dark and sightless

Broken jaw doorways toothless gaping

Slate pate roofs smashed open by war-hammer winds.

They mark the passage of years and the bite of seasons.

6

By whatever ways, whatever ways we come to them

Waiting diffident or with curious eyes to see what they have become.

Until we feed the fire, until we feed the warmth now the long memories,

Until then they are remote as stars whose names are not known,

Whose patterns are not picked out by pointing fingers.

We move towards them and they, waiting or not,

Wrapped up in their own watching.

There is nothing left here but scattered teeth

And broken skulls, voiceless gaping jaws

And the endless wind across the low green fields.

It was better than this, it was better.

Words piled up in cairns,

Words piled up and stones laid out.

7

The central hearth

Where stars burn

Where the gathered starlight burns.

The wind is in a minor key.

Ghosts of footsteps heading north.

This is the last feast

Before the world changes.

Before the old doors are sealed.

Before we throw away our names

And watch for new signs.

Bone by bone

We disassemble our gods

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