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Posts Tagged ‘bardic’

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TALIESIN SUTRAS 2

7
(Landscape)

Late Wanderings
Food from Annwfn, one grain before death.
Honour the pot, the boiling cauldron,
The simmering burden.
I shall digest the words
Served up hot and fast.
Caught, threaded, herded
Towards an inevitable end.
What is scattered?
The winnowed chaff.
Wind and water,
The soul, pale and sleeping,
A mysterious thing.

(Down into the boggy water,
Thrice slain in the holy way,
My burst body bleeding its
Mist-white soul along the causeway,
The teal, the mallard messenger.
I will not forget: straight into the sunset
With my tongue of prayer,
My skin of supplication.)

These images,
These words drawn in colour.
These maps, these directions.
Overlayed on what is not,
What is.

(Landscape is what I have become.
Tongue of soil, skin and nail, wrapped root,
Spread out as hill, my throat this river
Quenching all, my eye: horizon wide,
Drinking star patterns, eternal web.)

Bardic circuit
Of the tenuous ellyll.
They who become outside themselves,
Soul wanderer, wraiths, elves.

(Without our body, woad-cleansed warriors,
We live heartless in a different tune.
Though love still, in a vaster way.
Fuel for deeper worlds, the fabric stretched
And folded, shift, shroud, swaddling.
We, the mist between your breathing,
Your silences, your shoal thoughts.)

The real dream dreamed.
Do you know what you are
When you are asleep?

Taliesin asleep on the sea
Travelling through words
As if they were worlds.

What comes out of the ground
Is never what went into the ground.
The seed is
dead, the leaves are green and growing.

In house of earth, bound by blue iron
Self and not-Self shackled in a mound
All for dreaming.

Afagddu is soot (besmirched smith), the remains of wood and fire.
Ceridwen, the crook of the sky, thigh of the river, tree bowing down,
Crouching woman, cauldron hunched, the squatting one.

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A Cloak of Words
(The head of Bran whispering poet’s ears)

A whole long life he muttered dream charms
In the warm safe hall, in golden birdsong.
This life is a metaphor for living, but is not quite,
Is what he said, till curious, one looked beyond the doors.

The cold sea winds, the mist-white cry of gulls,
The memory stripped, fact bones, dream blubber,
Food for drowned thought, shivered clear,
Born again.

The snow creeps down to the valley floor.
A bullfinch in a flash of sunlight.

The Good Raven is cloaked beneath,
hidden and always in our blood.
And he will whisper, good-hearted,
as bright brows burst with illumined fire,
a convocation of the one, the only, bard in many voices.

A sea of hills, and one mighty one striding through.
It is a downward spiral from there, no good came of it,
Except a good tale dusting sunsets with fools’ gold.
Perhaps that is, after all, enough. As much as
Can be hoped for where women are unheard
And men so willing to go to war for pride.

So senseless is this suffering as to drive them raving, about the forests,
To perch muttering in bare branches, to shun the comfort,
To converse with blackbirds, to remember in aeons,
To weigh the heavy genealogies, to befriend stars.
Brave enough to see and to speak in true riddles;
To confound the self-righteous mind, to spit out the grit;
To fire the dark night with lightning, to sweeten bitterness.

And to go unheard, to go misunderstood, to go mocked,
As the world itself is, as the son of the world is,
To be turned into ghosts to frighten children with,
Unfashionable prophets, an annoyance of thorn woven crowns.

Bright-eyed, the blessed carrion-eaters return
Making the most of the already lost.
Wishing them well with a natural grace.
The beautiful bones pecked clean,
A lean, mysterious perfection
Is all that ever remains.

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Samhain in Annwfn

Transgression by assumption.
You have taken what does not belong
By assuming everything you see here
Is yours by right.
Taking what is mine
You shall take my role and duty.
You shall by this become completely me
(And yet not), and I you.
Enter the deep and see perfection
And its flows.
Twilight woven through with gold.
A brocade worn thin and transparent,
Sky-patched, redolent.
A more perfect dream
Sunk into the depths.

As if eyes had been staring at the sun:
Now everything veined red-gold,
Too dark and too bright to see,
An inner burning light that dims the world,
Makes sense of flickers and ghosts,
And tongues of fiery liquid language
Scarce understood but lascivious.
Skin turned fallen leaf, crunched,
Made liquid, sucked up,
A new wine burning with blushed passion
Or so it may seem.

The skill here
Is not to weigh nor judge
But to lick the lightest air and breeze
And swim undisturbed, unseen
According to most fluid laws.
Dreamed but not dreaming,
A metaphor eternal, echoing.
There is, and never was, a thing made single,
Nor one made so especial
It could not be reflected endlessly
In midnight pools.

And all this
Only a beginning.
A recalibration.
A falling leaf
Slowly spinning.
A kiss.
A message.
It will be dust in the morning.
But the ache of memory:
That will be the always hidden gold.

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Rhiannon’s Riddle

These my bare branches,
These the days of moonlit silence.
Seven are the ones lost to sleep
That should have been watchful
That should have been truthful.
A claw of cloud has stolen
my golden light, my golden sun.
I am sunk down by it and sullied,
Weighed by each retelling.
Bound again by careless generosity,
Bound by those not blameless.
An open honesty shall allay my worry,
And watchful bravery and a clear discrimination.
The hunter has risen and taken my firstborn light.
I am become wolf tied to stone,
Wandering the same road
Weighed down by it.
At night, the high table of the feast.
Neither here, neither there,
This road of travail, this cloak of flesh.
Golden is the harvest moon,
Birdsong of the morning.
All is fog
And my bright boy is gone.
The son eaten by the mother,
The mother deceived by her sisters
The hunter and his prey, taken, restored.
Pay attention Pwyll!
What is yours, is illusion.
Deeper by far is the world you walk.
My heartache is in this coming and going,
Half the time here, half the time
In a somewhere else,
more, or less, reflected perfect.
I will wait for you though.
Wait another year on year.
You shall only need to ask,
Only listen.
The footsteps beneath the ground,
The silver paths.
It shall all find return.

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A Specious Species ( fragment from ‘Book of Voices’)

Nothing sacred now but our innane, profane cataloging of elements.
Delighting amongst minute, defined aberrations of despair.
Tearing wings off angels, pinning demons, peeled, perused and wriggling.
A reduction to the economic, to the social pressure, to the self-deceived confection
Of low-fat, sugared reason.
Too smart to see the mirror’s edge,
Too self-congratulatory with resonant parsimony, (our rounded, generic, philistine voice),
To notice the hysteric, farting ghosts gesturing in the shadows,
(Who hold all the prompts, pimp and pump the lines).
All the angry poets implode with bluster, become politicians of meagre degree,
Smutty with oiled conviviality, lugubrious with reasonable desecrations.
This world, too sharp, too uncoloured, subtle and muddied,
Requiring battened-down, serial numbered, thirteen-digit barcoded, sixteenth- level encryption, a designed decorum, ready-mealed, chill-packeted
For whenever the sudden, certain hungers disturb the entertainments
Of the bland and chained perceptions.
Blake and his roaring spirits plummet burning from a pest-controlled heaven,
Nicely neurotoxined, polypropylened, thin smiled and NVQ’d.
History scrubbed and redactable, requisitioned, gilded, sold off.
Each empire and squalid colony vacuum-packed,
Date-stamped, forgotten in elusive, intellectual deep freeze…..

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STONE LORDS

Our tall hats, sky scraping, cloud stirring,
Raking, forming, our tall hats.

Our black hats, cliff-crag dark,
Storm dark, night full.
Our black hats.

Given by the lords of years,
These moving towers, rocking.
These watchtowers,
These habitations of watchers.
Given us.

Watchers, sky-full of silence.
Hawk-bright shaded eyes,
Biding behind dark brows,
We bide,
Dark browed.

We need not hands to raise against.
Need not fingers to point.
Nor voice to accuse,
Nor clever, subtle speech,
No invective.

Poise, presence,
Inscrutibility fledged beneath
The stern circle of dark rim.
Tall hats, dark hats, bestowing gravity,
Beacons of authority.

Rock dreaming,
Injected, a bolus of catastrophe.
We, the chorus,
Mocking your wriggled evacuations.
We shall never, as you will, now
Pass distraught, hand-wringing,
Rote excuse for skin.

We shall never squirm nor flutter,
Racing thither on dismal errand,
Bending brightness to aggrandise vapour,
Bending sense, roping goodness,
Making slave-chains to chafe the free.
Oh, we see clear.
We see your oily wishes,
Your sly agreements.
How you stain the day.
How you stain.

Our tall hats
Shall follow your ways.
Watch us on the heights.
Watch us circle dark valleys.
Unencumbered vigilence,
Patient for judgement,
Implacable,
Undeceived.

May your tiny,
Malevolent souls,
Naked and revealed,
Shrivel.
May your rights
Recycle to the innocent.
May the wheeling carrion birds
Revolve and clamour
Til you no more sully
This earth, this sky.
May you relinquish your folly
Before it plagues and howls,
Extirpating your breathing memory.

—-

Born from a recounted dream of handless beings guarding the clifftops from the perennial parastic politicians who wore tall black top hats. Reminded me of the crags of the Preseli hills, the watchers of Easter Island, the tall astronomically accurate solid gold hats of the Neolithic,
Of the cairns and tombstones of the quiet places, of the attentive wariness of those without voice…….

the image is from an Iron Age Celtic coin that seems to show a storm or mountain deity

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STREAMS, RIPPLED MORNING.

Words rolled smooth with time,
A singing pebble bed rippling this stream.

King and queen of fishers flash and dive,
(would I were so sure finding silver
Below sparkling surface,
Sun-bright in the morning).
Bright-bibbed, the dipper stalks dark waters,
The warbler hidden in the wood.

Heron statues,
Tree of patience,
Colour of a rainy dawn.

The world is eyes and voices,
A welter of revealing.

Chambered and vaulted is my heart:
The green, templed valleys of Dyfed.
Deep echoing, oak-shaded,
Falling by hour, by day, down
To the slow slopes of sand,
The crumbling cliffs,
The roaring seas from elsewhere
(the fall of distance, horizon’s gleam).

That deep terrain, the stark geology
Of tale and history,
Directs the tumble downwards,
The notes, even, of the song,
Outliving lives,
Covered and uncovered,
Season by season
Prescribing the curve and flow.

I would not be at Connla’s Well
Out in the far West
Where black poison drips
To that bitter pool below.
I would be here beside the purple alders,
Their grave hanging heads
Companionable as bright Bran,
His honey laughter
Healing the horror of interminable loss.
Both true, though, those streams,
So intermingling, roped, woven,
A salmon’s view bent to a circle,
The world of edges and endings.

I have found a small pebble,
Cool and perfect in itself,
A remnant of sky-reaching mountains,
Child of avalanche and ice grinding centuries.
And have let it drop
Watching ripples dance outwards.
It is nothing,
But it is something.
A small pool easing thirst,
A little rest from bleak winds,
A moment reflected,
A place to start from.

——

( the first line ‘words rolled smooth with time’ popped unbidden into my thoughts this morning, setting off ripples of imagery, memory and reflection. Dyfed is the old name for Pembrokeshire in the south west of Wales. Many of the tales of the Mabinogion are set there – though the bones of this piece are more to do with the nature of language than with location in time and space).

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