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Take away the words

( that give stories to the silences of doubt)

And there is still the song of the river,

The roaring in the pines,

The light rolling over the ever-changing hills.

Mist rises and the clouds roll past.

There is no need to fill the seconds,

That are already so full of mystery,

With anything other than this.

We are ghosts

Unless we feed on this glory.

We are starved of succour,

Only feeding on our own reasons.

Offer your silence, now and then,

In the early morning, in the dusk.

Now and then, listen

To how eternity sings.

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STONE AGE

Snow clouds drift below moon and stars.

The river roars its long distance.

.

What can can we do

But breathe in the warm smoke of fires

And huddle down into the skins of animals?

.

In this way

We become the world’s eyes

In long winter.

.

Hunters of stories

In the mists.

Recounters of the long herds

And the cunning wings.

.

Sustained by the strong life of others.

So we may sing their praises

And with our hands

Shape amber and jet

And flint and bone.

.

Beneath the one tree of starlight

And dancing, rising sparks.

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TALIESIN FRACTALS

1

Nyt o vam a that pan y’m digonat

Not from a mother or a father was I made

The druids know all things are born

From desire and a fear of extinction.

Here I am, beginningless, not born but made,

Unless before the world and before the beginning of the world.

A’m creu a’m creat o naw rith llafanat

And my creation was made for me from nine forms of consistency

I was waiting to be clothed, sound to word,

Word to meaning, meaning to understanding,

Understanding to knowledge, knowledge to wisdom,

Wisdom to poetry, poetry to creation of worlds,

Creation of worlds to fear and desire.

How many souls does the one created consist of?

What animates the articulations of a creature?

O ffrwydd, o ffrwytheu, o ffrwyth Duw dechreu

From a fruit, from fruits, from the fruit of God in the beginning.

Not the seed, not the tree, not the beginning,

Begun from the ripened, time-ripened exudate of the creator.

Not from one, but from many,

Not after but at the start of the beginning.

From the tree of God, from God’s fruit,

From the Garden of Eden was I made.

From the vegetal elements of the world, before the world.

Made by God and by enchanters –

Enchanters chanting sounds, chanting word,

Giving fruit its form, giving God a voice.

2

What he says:

I am not a human.

I was given form with plants,

From fruit, from fruits, from God’s first fruit

(And what was that?).

Made from the elements of the natural world,

From plants, from soil, from water.

I was, yet I continued to be shaped

Or given form, or recreated:

From God’s fruit, from the soil,

Water and plants.

From Math, from Gwydion,

Reared by Eurwys, by Euron,

By Modron, by Math, by Gwydion,

These five enchanters.

Made from within a desert, a fire, a conflagration,

Made before the world was finished.

Brewed, even. The plants collected, the elements combined

With water, the fire of the pot, the fermentation,

Becoming the same but changed.

I fall from the first tree, a fruit of God, ripe and ready.

I melt into earth, become plants, become blossoms, become trees.

All mulched, all matter there is, rotted, fermented, made from that.

And is this ‘I’ one or many?

Singular or compound?

Changed before completion

By enchantments of the five.

Before the world in what should have been,

When there was nothing but fire.

Sacred from the cauldron heated,

Stirred in, changed by fire,

Reared by enchanters,

Made new and new and new again.

Rising from the sullen earth golden-topped,

Golden-browed, filled with voices,

Filled with light.

From the houses of earth, I, We,

Arise. We, Taliesin, a fun guy.

Some. Soma. Filled with exhilaration,

Full, frothing, leaping, loud.

The words come from the deep.

From the dripping dark the waters speak.

As clear as thunder, they will echo

Until they find meaning in minds ablaze.

It is a million voices fractured and combined,

Playing in the light, dreaming in purple night.

The wonders are named and renamed,

Calibrated in wandering souls to measure their worth,

Their awakeness, their clarity.

Dressed in monstrous words

Are the names of being and non-being.

The mediocre can never live forever

Except as soil and falling petals.

3

I, the poet

Who is and is not

And also outside the world

Inhabiting all worlds.

Word warring, slicing meanings.

My spear and shield awen,

My crow awen, my cauldron awen.

From God and also

From the enchanters before creation was.

These words are all lies and all perfect.

They are here to shepherd you

Towards a delightful oblivion,

Towards fire and water and the one tree.

The most holy fruit, the fermented fall

Of exultation beyond meaning.

4

Clarity from confusion.

Not jumping to conclusions.

Floating on the thermals of meaning.

The paths that lead nowhere

Lead everywhere.

And the unexpected provides answers.

Turn away from the problem to find the solution.

The deep world beneath the world:

Everything the same, but shining.

The power of seeing patterns

And of remembering the stories that are used

To make excuses to do the same as before.

5

These bright words:

A skitter rhythmic ricochet

Scattering meanings across centuries.

No weir, no tickle or hook,

No line or net will keep them held for long.

Proud words, free words, unimprisoned,

Validated in memories

Springing out of rushing waters, upstream, upstream,

To seed in still minds,

To become vast again

In distant worlds.

6

Yesterday I was sure of its meaning.

Today I am not certain.

Tomorrow I shall start again

following other threads, other roots

down into the dark soil.

The seeds unfurl though they still

see no light. They taste

many futures and that is enough.

Allowing the breeze to bring its news,

breathing softly, trying

not to possess an outcome.

The wind lifts the smoke upwards,

the edges of the day retreat.

It is in silence the song can be heard.

It builds and dissipates

as clouds do at sunset.

Whole kingdoms dissolve.

Endless blue, then one,

then another star.

7

This world is clothed in words.

Shaped by enchanter’s song.

Brought to being and non-being by utterance.

Silence does not dispel it.

There are always echoes,

Always fading recollections

Into the next world.

8

Whose voice is this, whose words,

Yours or mine, and who is this I?

That is, and was, and will be?

The wind bends down the trees:

They kneel, they sigh, they dance,

They moan seeking shelter in song.

They can do little else when moved.

Where do the winds arise?

From beyond what horizons?

A word was spoken- the first word –

A little breath, and it has been uttered ever since.

The wind growing stormy – no birds are in the sky.

This powerful song has driven away all other thought.

You kneel and bend and sigh,

What else can you do?

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VIEW

Hokusai would appreciate the view:

Garth Bank rising like a sleepy Fuji

Framed by those leaning pines

And the placid, silent sky.

He would have changed nothing,

But chosen the lines for beauty

And the colours calm and dun as the day.

A landscape without pearls,

Though edged by snow hills.

One by one we lose our weight,

Floating upwards to eternity.

The two rivers whisper it

In their deep and hidden ways.

I catch the scent of planed hinoki.

Last day of January.

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SCRIPT

The politics of throwing babies into the blazing hearth.

The myth must rise above all choices of good and evil.

Joy and suffering are characters that come and go,

They have their own scripts.

And no matter how erudite we believe we are,

No matter how much better.

The cycles of myth will do away

With our little stories of greatness,

The prattle of improvement,

Our enfeebled longevity,

Our chaotic randomised knowledge

Of nothing in particular.

In the end we justify conflict

Or run in madness to the wilderness,

Feathered in terror and forgetting.

(There is a myth for that one too).

The pocket watch has free will –

It can stop or go.

But once the spring is tight,

Each cog must do what it has been assigned.

And what truth anyway is greater

Than slowing the passage of time

And the moment that time stops?

The dance begins, the dance ends.

In eternal halls the dance is never tiresome.

Memory, to the gods, is an irrelevance.

‘But there must be more!’

Is also a line woven into the myths,

A function of the equation.

Descartes horribly right,

But still missing the point.

Act, because you must, O Arjuna.

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TWO DISTANT MOMENTS

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I breathe the cool cloud

The jackdaws lean into.

The spice of wet grass.

A radiant moment dissolves into eternity.

.

Evening turns to rust.

The blue hills bloom cloud.

Soft, this beautiful melancholy.

.

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THESE MAPS, THESE ROADS

These maps, these roads, written and rewritten word on word.

Size and distance, though, these are not to be measured.

The roads and maps are real but travelled, somehow,

By ships that fly, by pigs that speak, by horses

That move and yet not move.

The shape of words – that is the key

To all that is and is not.

The holy lines that sum up all dimensions,

That lie so perfectly,

That birth sound out of silence and void.

Chase the edge of one thing, the infinite borders,

The central compass points.

Trace with keen fingertips the way they merge and separate.

The same pattern is in the whorls of your hand and always has been.

The world is measured by its forgetfulness.

The eternal is uncovered by those with perfected memory.

No words left orphaned, no thought muddied or misplaced.

A perfect fractal prison of a million voices,

Laying down the roads and all the maps.

Remembering, remembering, it is all remembering.

Beyond the gods and monsters

There is a perturbation of light and shadow.

Beyond light and shadow, a flickering notion of this and that.

Beyond this and that, a line of movement and a point of stillness.

A certain chain of gravity, (that is love and jealousy),

And a flow of iron-grey chains.

The roads, the winds of space, move along,

The paths of gods and worlds dreaming,

Dreaming they have time and space and something,

Something else, a name, a reason, a future, a history.

A certain trajectory, a ricochet away into story.

New words, same roads, same houses, new owners,

Same walls, same ghosts, same roads, new roads,

New names.

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IN HER HOUSE (Dakini Day)

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In her house of stars

the dark one’s hunger is unabated.

Clothe yourself in time and space and it will not be

Half enough

to approach her roaring silence.

The void around which the cauldron’s form is boiling:

All the gods burn bright

to feed that eternal heat.

Spinning arms dredge the web of roads between emptiness.

Vast is the well and vast the language.

The proud will not find it.

The worthy will not find it.

It is not what you are, nor what you would wish to be.

So hungry it can never be sated,

So full it can never be found.

Words approach and are swallowed.

Eternal dancers surround it.

Pillars of smoke are its witness:

The primal hole where gods ejaculate and die.

Supreme Glistening Darkness, we hear your song and tremble.

We draw your name as the moving waters do.

Down, down, down.

We do not know by knowing.

We do not remember anything by remembering.

Be still. Be silent.

The spiralling throne finds us and draws us in.

A cold breath passes through us.

We sigh and become glorious.

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TO RETURN

We live where we can breathe the light of stars.

Where we watch them dowsed at dawn in the rivers of the world.

This is our power: to dismiss your ravings.

To grow food and share friends,

To chop wood and to watch the flocks.

To vanish, when the time comes,

Into the same song our mothers sang.

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TWENTY YEARS ( OF DRUID TRAINING)

1

It was like a rope of light

let down into the chaotic darkness.

Only later would we see

it was a deadly serpent

and the chains of enslavement.

But such is the nature of knowledge

and we shrugged, accepting all costs.

.

Nyt o vam a that

Pan y’m digonat

.

It was not from a mother and a father

That I was made.

.

2

One year we were held in complete silence.

No word spoken

but internal recitation of all the masters’ words.

Becoming each one, and their lilt,

moving into their expressions,

reclothed in passions,

Eyes opening in other worlds.

.

A’m creu a’m creat

O naw rith llafanat;

.

And my creation was created for me

From nine forms of consistency:

.

3

Another year we each were given

one word only, to unwrap.

To follow, to hunt to its uttermost,

to its bright birth,

In a name that has become ours alone.

A map of our journey,

a seal on our circumference.

.

O ffrwyth, o ffrwytheu,

O ffrwyth Duw dechreu;

.

From fruit, from fruits,

From God’s fruit in the beginning;

.

4

Once the words were learned

all the rhythms and the hidden wealth:

We could see how nothing existed

outside of those patterns of plaid.

No move, no colour, no conceit,

nothing that was not drawn

from that well of words.

And so we learnt to see around us,

in every hall, in every byre,

where each would walk

and where in each tale

they would place themselves.

And how with a word

it might be shifted

and how with a gesture

the plot might be moved on.

.

O vriallu a blodeu,

O vlawt gwyd a godeu,

.

From primroses and flowers,

From the blossom of trees and shrubs,

.

5

One year we were given

the gift of madness.

.

Prid o pridet

Pan y’m digonet,

.

From earth, from the sod

Was I made,

.

6

Another year we slept all the long days

and at night gathered around still pools

to learn the dance of stars, and their songs.

Our dreams would be strange then,

and our names, unpronounceable

.

O vlawt danat,

O dwfyr ton nawvet.

.

From nettle blossom

From the ninth wave’s water.

.

7

One year we would speak only lies,

until we knew that truth is itself a lie,

and that the tides beneath us

are drowning darknesses

and screaming passions.

.

A’m swynwys-i Vath

Kyn bum diameth.

.

Math created me

Before I was completed.

.

8

A year as birds

soaring and rising on thermals,

to find the fulcrum of the winds

and to twist the cloud rivers to rope

for sun or rain or storm.

To placate, to restore.

.

A’m swynwys-i Wytyon

Mawrut o brithron.

.

Gwydion fashioned me

Great enchantment wrought by a magic staff;

.

9

A year abiding by trees –

some would not return,

fertilising the world

with their eternal silences.

.

O Eurwys, o Euron,

O Euron, o Vodron;

.

By Eurwys, by Euron,

By Euron, by Modron;

.

10

Another, we hunted and slew all the gods,

taking their women and siring new progeny.

These we fed with our own blood and souls,

so that they would know us when we summoned them.

.

O pymp keluydon

Arthawon eil math –

Pan ymdygyaed.

.

By five enchanters

Of a kind like godparents –

Was I reared.

.

11

One year to placate and cajole poisons.

Those songs were enticing, sweet as death.

.

A’m swynwys-i wledic

Pan vei let loscedic.

.

A ruler fashioned me

When there would have been a burning extent.

.

12

Then we did all return to our own families

To serve one year, unrecognised, in their midst.

For many that was the final chain broken to the past.

Allegiance of blood once sweet, now rancid, old, bitter.

.

A’m swynwys sywyt

Sywydon kyn byt,

.

The wisdom of sages fashioned me

Before the world was made.

.

13

A year of folding secrets into the mundane;

Of speaking to the deep;

Of remaining human.

Learning that love and hate

Are the gravity that keeps us here.

.

Pan vei genhyf-y vot,

Pan vei vach veint byt.

.

When I had being,

When the extent of the world was still small.

.

14

A year polishing swords and mirrors

And placing the singing spells

Of vision and death within them.

.

Hard bard bud angnawt,

Yt uedaf ar wawt

A traetho tauawt.

.

A fair poet, of unusual gifts,

I control in song

That which the tongue utters.

.

15

The genealogies of the lost

And the equations of gods;

Their doorways, their doorkeepers.

The mysteries under the earth

Where the stars wander,

Passionate light on an endless river.

.

Gwaryeis yn llychwr,

Kysceis ym porffor.

.

I played in the light,

I slept wrapped in purple.

.

16

The transmutation of the body into smoke;

To see without eyes;

To move the shining streams.

.

Neu bum yn yscor

Gan Dylan Eil Mor,

.

I was in the citadel

With Dylan Son of the Sea,

.

17

To become free in chains;

To remember the first cauldron

And the journey from there.

Brightness remaining.

To give everything away,

Yet remain undiminished.

.

Yg kylchet ym perued

Rwg deulin teyrned.

.

My bed in the interior

Between the knees of kings.

.

18

To summon guards and guardians;

To curse the dreams of kings;

To know the stars’ positions in daylight;

To travel out on rays of light;

.

Yn deu wayw anchwant:

O Nef pan doethant.

.

My two keen spears:

From Heaven did they come.

.

19

To know one’s manner and time of death;

To move into other forms;

To prophesy and to escape from prophecy.

Transformation at the moment of death;

To remember every name and

The shape and hungers of souls.

.

Yn Annwfyn llifereint

Wrth urwydrin dybydant.

.

In the streams of Annwfn

They come ready for battle.

.

20

To return to simple words,

To return to silence;

To remember and forget,

To move freely without ripples.

Three drops spinning –

Their taste, the honey moment.

To know that all is song.

That all is one song, one river,

And to listen to the winds from the hills there,

From the rapids, from the shallows,

To leap upstream, to float downstream.

To inhabit the world that inhabits the wise.

.

Ef gwrith, ef datwrith,

Ef gwrith ieithoed.

.

He made, he remade,

He made languages.

.

Llachar y enw llawffer,

Much llywei nifer;

.

Radiant his name, strong his hand

Brilliantly did he direct a host;

.

Ysceinynt yn ufel

O dosas yn uchel.

.

They were scattering in sparks

From a drop in the heights.

The Welsh is taken from ‘Cad Godeu’, a long and mysterious poem attributed to Taliesin. It is not meant as a commentary on my verses, nor the other way round. But perhaps they both come from the same place and act as a counterpoint in time and space.

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