Posts Tagged ‘bard’



the river cracked open
becomes starry space

So many words it is a wonder that some peel through the razor noise intact
Not feathered limping, severed spluttering, gasping airless, a stupid music.

the void between emotions:
a valley wind that rolls stones

The howl continuous so familiar, the driver of conscientious actions.
Our names rumbling in the caverns of our ever drunken blood.

if the river runs silent
is it no longer a river?

Fearing silence most of all, we dress daily in chatter
Asking only that our dreams too have electric constancy.

listen, you mute guardians:
i will sing all your names

Oh, Enkidu, striding across tidy fields of tamed constraint
I shall kill you, too, though I love you more than life itself.

there are footprints on the moon
the dust of other lives, sighing

Taliesin, Taliesin, you burst from your womb-bag
Loud and shimmering. If you were not so beautiful
It would have been your tomb.

the silent centre of this land,
where is the end of all things

If you were not such a tricky lad
You would still be sitting next to inpenetrable darkness.

when there is knowledge
you shall be struck dumb

Yet here still you caper in circles around the utter void
Flapping your tongue and pulling faces.

all words, the debris
of other’s errors

all the masters have left us
as if they never were

fading petals pressed
between stained pages

an unexpected lightness
of forgetting why and how

this river, more song and sense
than a thousand nations

this tree, most eloquent
in its most eloquent, swaying silences

raven prophecy
whirlwind visions
the cataracts of unstitched minds
save us from all reasonable madness

we are adrift
on seas of fire,
and hungry,
so hungry, now.

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TANGENTIAL (stumbled sketch)

There: art, not a thing,
not a, not owned.
A consummation not consumed.
A mirror mirrored. What gods do.
Play innocent of consequence.
What childen do ( when they forget to be good or bad):
Follow the trains of thought noise feeling echo memory dream back back oh back.

Mr. Young,
Dr. Cold
seasoned by dust of science,
almost right, but then again…
Too serious to see the truth.

Tap the words, metaphor, semaphore,
Heirophant, hieroglyph, sign, sigil, psychopomp, or
Orpheus walking in the singing mists.
It is not this, but only just.
It is almost here, and then again…

A blurring.
Ink does it, that small spidering reach,
The small fibres sucking, new chaos stretching,
Mycelia of thought reaching out from meaning.
What Taliesin knew
( the bards struck speechless by
His seed syllables),
It is so nearly thought,
So nearly speech,
So nearly, nearly silence.
A catch of breath, a sigh.
Shall we turn round to look
Whose warmth stirs
The neck’s nape?
And will they then vanish,
Or us, ourselves, dissolve?
Unclothed before the tree,
Giving names,
Bestowing edge.
From where
The seven rivers
Mellifluous flow.
Sprung from the root
Of our moist tongues.
He, the seed.
She, the fruit.
Both vessels hollow,


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Each time
I read the words
Of Angus
The paths
Of my brain
Meet the dance
Of my tongue
A taste
Of delight,
Sound sculpted
In silence
A dance,
A dance,
An expulsion
Of gestures
A condensation
Of landscapes
A world
Out of solution
Like diamond

And my own
My own loom,
Shuttles fly:

One more stitch
From the cloth
Of this life.
One more certainty
One life
Memory only
Clinging on:
Fingers of
What if
Fingers of

With sleep,
Letting go.
The wind outside,
The rain
The hail
In turn
Each four walls
Of this uncertain house,
Home yet
For a while

And then
The journey onward
The journey unknown
Or alone
In slow shoals
Our names,
Wind borne
Water borne

star lines7

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How do we frame a poet’s voice in our minds as we read? What speed, what cadence, what emphasis, what accent? What voice, indeed do we wear ourselves? For it is certainly not the outer voice that surprises us when we hear a recording of what we, apparently, sound like.

Some poets seem perfect, or have found others with perfect voices for their thoughts. Nothing, for example, can evoke the poetic voice of Dylan Thomas more than the deep rumbling resonance of Richard Burton reading ‘Under Milk Wood’.
Often though, the modern poet reads their own words in a style that obscures the meaning. This seemed to be particularly prevalent in the Sixties and Seventies. The Liverpool poets and the punk poets chose to emphasise the rhythm by unnatural stresses on syllables and a tonal nasality reminiscent of the stereotypical folk singer. Like Bob Dylan impressionists without the tunes! The sound made by the mouth, cadence, alliteration, assonance all take over from the listener’s ability to understand the meaning – to build their own mental pictures of the words.
I first heard the recorded voice of Sorley MacLean on a track by Martyn Bennett named after the poem “Hallaig”. He had been given permission by the widow to use an old recording as the counterpoint to a wistful whistle track on the album ” Bothy Music”.

Although I had heard his name as one, but not the most famed, of the Scottish poets writing still in traditional Gaelic language and idiom, I had not read or heard his work. He wrote in Gaelic and translated himself into English. As a Highland poet his words are wistful, nostalgic, elegiac, mournful, fierce and eloquent. The style echoes the declamatory clan poets, praising, remembering, cursing and framing the human emotion within a landscape of evocative names. How evocative for those who have not seen those glens and lochs is difficult to say, but for me, who lived in Scotland for six years and often spent time in retreat beside Loch Rannoch it brings back all the resonant depth of that land.

Reading certain information or certain authors locks one in to one’s own creative flow, spontaneously releasing echoes and explorations. Once heard, the voice of Sorley MacLean becomes the voice of his words – the only way to unlock the images.
They took me back in my memories and so these of my own words flowed in fits and starts…..

Note: Scheihallion is a notable mountain at the head of Loch Rannoch, beside Loch Tummel. It can be seen from the railhead that skirts the desolation of Rannoch Moor and once seen, its conical form cannot be forgotten. It is said to be the home of the Fairies….

Heart songs,
Memory whispers, glimpses
Of beauty
In Breadlebane and Rannoch.

The language of clouds
Dark waters,
Bright birches.
Rannoch and Breadlebane
Where my heart wanders
The rain and sunlit hills.
Mist of memory.
Scent of pines
And heather dust.


From the height of Croiscrag
The deer tracks
Scent of heather dust
And the dark waters below
The silent,
bright birches.

Beyond sight,
but not mind
The peerless depths
of Loch Etive
Over the hills…..

There shall be no need to remember,
No desire to forget…..

I shall be a birch, an alder
Leaning over the small sands
Gazing upon the waters of Rannoch,
Mirror deep with morning.

Curls of mist…..

And I shall speak only
The language of sedge-grass,
The song of pines breathing,
Of curlew ‘s lament,
Carried low
Like a midwinter sun……

Dawn air,
Wine cool, fragrant
As flesh:
the only food I need.
Gazing for a thousand years –
Silent ripples on deep water…..

From the Bridge of Gaur
Sunset shadows
Looking on Schiehallion….


When I am dead,
And dreaming,
From the Bridge of Gaur
I will gaze on the face of
For a thousand years-
If that
is not too little time.

A thousand sunrises, a thousand sunsets,
A thousand patterns of sun and cloud.

And when I am dead and dreaming:
A thousand years
By the lochside
With the alders, with the birches-
In the hours before dawn
As the water mirrors the hillsides
And all is still and fresh,
With the curlews voice
And the heron’s wings above me.

And when I am dead and dreaming
I shall climb the sides of Scheihallion
With little effort, counting each stone,
Breathless, eyeless, sorrowless,
Seemlessly holding each step,
A memory of perfection.

The birches of Croiscrag will speak,
As will the lichen
and the dew-heavy sedges.

I will converse with the bones
In the dark depths of Loch Rannoch,
The silent, steep shores of Loch Etive.

Eloquent in silence
Perfect in mist.
Reflected mist, reflected heaven,
Under the gaze of Scheihallion,
Wrapped in its cloak,
Its roots winding up time
And holding each moment.

I shall converse with the bones
That are dust, as I myself
Am dust, and my friends
All with me – dust once more.

For my heart will tremble
With the red deer on the hillside.
My voice will speak
Through the long grasses and the harsh sedge.
My memories will be carried
On the woodsmoke rising-
The smell of woodsmoke and
The dust of heather,
The rowan in red autumn
And the hoarfrost stillness.

Each root and particle,
Each drop from the beck,
Each ripple wetting rock,
Each small footprint on the foreshore,
Each dancing midge and mote at sunset,

When I am dead and dreaming
Gazing once more upon Scheihallion.



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I have planted a seed
Where the warm sun warms the soil.
It has grown a tree of strength,
An oak of stability.

I have planted a seed
Where the sweet rains water the roots.
It has grown a tree of abundance,
An oak of plenty.

I have planted a seed
Where the soft winds breathe balm.
It has grown a tree of protection,
An oak of nourishment.

I have planted a seed
Where the deep soil nurtures.
It has grown a tree of wonder,
An oak of magnificence,
A poplar of song
A birch of beauty
A willow of grace
A pine of clarity
A cherry of openness
A yew of permanenece
A door of achievement
A hall of splendour
Celebrated by all.

All the bright birds
Flock to roost-
Their noisy chatter
At dawn and dusk.
A home for brightness
A home to rest in.

They came from far horizons
They came to hear the leaf’s song
They came to hear the roots wisdom.
Bright blossom, sweet fruit,
Quiet shade, peace of fullness.

A tree from a seed.
A prize froma hope.
A song from a whisper.
A gathering of minds.
A glistening of gold.
A glory of attainment.


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Yew notes

If you are drowning in the depths of winter, if you find the dark days dismal, if you are wearied by the woes of the world, if you find that you have lost your direction, lost your spark – then place yourself next to the banked-up fire of the yew tree spirit. Its constant energy and life- force will warm you through and help restore your core strengths and inspir new growth.
Yew is the oldest of trees, eternal, ever-living, vibrant wirh dragon-life, a great restorer and a great healer. Anchor you energies in the eternal silence of the yew tree and learn to sing again.

” I am Yew
Slow breath of Eternity
Joyful and profound

I am Yew
Well of Time
Source of Life.”


This is the song
Of the Yew Teacher,
The spiral snake,
The dragon healer.
Strong song and silent teacher.

Before the dawn
Before the first day
I knew the sun’s name
As it called me forth.

On the wind.

Red apple,
Sweet heart of death.

Green tongues and
life-blood fire.

Patient roaring,
Passion turning:

“come not with your mind
Nor your chatter.
Drown in me
Die in me
Join the centre:

The hub, the wheel,
The word,
The laughter.
The fire inside,
Concealed, concealing.

Wood and weather,
Warm and winter.

In my shadow,

Past the sitting one who sees
Past the root into the chamber
Where the watchers weave and gather
Where the dragon’s breath is potent
Where the silver wheel is woven
Where the time is marked and measured
Where the space is held and hallowed

Where the land is named
And numbered.

” I am fire
And I am water.

I am earth
And I am ether”

This is the heart of Time,
The heart of matter,

The drum of centuries
The door
The silence…..



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