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Posts Tagged ‘bardic’

THEIR NAMES

Their names are the doors they wait behind.

Dreaming, dreaming, they thus dream us.

A silver moon scythes the snow fruit that admits us.

Timeless is the round dance of breath.

There is constant war in heaven, and hunting,

And fast, hot seduction.

How else, otherwise, could it be here?

The stars pour themselves into the hills.

There will be ice upon the marshes.

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RAVEN IS POET

1

I have built my nest in the billowing cloud.

My phurba beak subdues the demons of hunger and despair.

This bright eye measures the generations of worms

And the oracles of shattered bone.

I ride the cracks between worlds on the wind of stars.

Does not my voice peel back all illusion?

What wealth is there here but the wealth of memory?

And I am not unfeeling.

I remember all their names, all their reasons.

Their genealogies are the forests of my delight.

A gathering at suppertime where I cloak the unseeing

In a sheen of knives.

My philosophy, you see, is alchemical, pure and simple.

I shall eat all suns, steal all warmth, reveal all truth that is lie.

There is no sin except satiety.

No song that is not beautiful.

No poet that does not dissect the foolishness of the world

And feed off it.

A long-shadowed cross, I am nailed as a sacrifice and a hero.

Fast, my deep is deeper than all skies.

My deep is the deep within.

Navigator of the impossible, I have the voice of icebergs,

The gravel of continental subduction.

I am generous with praise:

I will laugh joyous at the capers of poets and the drunkenness of heroes.

I wheel and turn patient as the stars,

Wait for the sickle moon to bring it all down to food.

The eloquence of continuance.

The continuance of dreaming.

Consume and consummation, it is all one to a raven poet.

Laughter is the weapon of last resort.

2

Snow on the mountain.

Hazels flower in the valley.

Still no signs of any wisdom.

Snow on the mountain.

Silence after the last battle.

The world again

Shall fill with birdsong.

3

Spin in gorse-bright light.

Dance of black cloak, black knives.

Exultant raven warriors.

4

I am Dark Mountain.

My wife is Midnight.

My daughters are Hunger Sated and Sleek Breast.

My sons are Piercing Hunger and Arrow Straight.

We are descendants of Snow on the Mountain

And Utter Darkness.

The Well of Memory and The Blasted Tree

Are our dwelling places.

Soot Black

Ocean Depth

Bright Brow

Radiant Ash Tree

Thief of Knowledge.

Turner of the Wheel

Season’s End

Hunger Abates.

Wind and waters name us thus.

Mountains name us,

The vast sky names us thus.

5

At the end of the universe ( or at its beginning)

There sits a raven-headed god on a stone throne.

I have seen it. It is so.

He has one eye that sees all things.

He has three eyes for the past, present and future.

He has four eyes that roam in every direction.

He has five eyes that glimmer in the dark and see all things.

He it is who makes the eggshell curve of the sky,

The white light of day. I have seen it. It is so.

When the sky was broken open and the earth fell out

That is when the ravens were born – in the space between.

6

From the bird god’s breath there comes a warm wind.

Let it blow the seeds of destruction away.

Let it extinguish the embers of hate.

May the needful dead fall ripe to our praying beaks.

A thousand ages is his out-breath.

A thousand ages he will breathe it all in again.

Sky and land and the holy air

Will wrap in silence about his dreaming.

We shall be named one by one

And nested in the cliffs of his gaze.

7

There is sufficient death.

We have no need

For the glut of war.

Our falling, floating dance

Inscribes the air.

We tumble towards

Our altar, earth.

We rise to sun,

World-filled cries.

This dance we dance

Is for the dance

Of life and death,

For the bird-headed god

At the end and beginning of all things.

For the drink of it.

For the breath of it.

For the bliss of it.

Raven poet I am.

This is the truth.

This is how it is.

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MOON DISC WORDS

Winter moon

Burns cold,

Burns deep.

.

Afagddu

Gwionbach.

Sun and moon.

This cauldron earth.

.

Winter moon

Looking down.

How many waters?

How many streams?

.

Winter moon.

Keeper of souls.

Cool breath of words.

.

Winter moon.

Cauldron warmed

By breath of nine

Maidens.

.

Winter moon.

Cauldron bubbling.

Road of souls.

.

Winter moon.

The gatekeeper asks:

What is your name?

.

Winter moon.

Born with no mother,

No father.

Bright browed.

.

Winter moon.

Taliesin.

Eloquent silence.

.

Winter moon.

No stunned poet.

Radiance of starlight.

.

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A lot of my writing this year has been towards an art/word project inspired by The Black Book of Carmarthen, a small, handwritten manuscript containing poems collected over a lifetime by one person. It is the oldest known manuscript written in the Welsh language. A mixture of ancient bardic poems and prayers, it is at once mundane and transcendent, simple and utterly baffling. The words that come to me are either reflecting some of the imagery or subjects of the fifty odd pieces, or dwell on the nature of the author and the continuity of language and writing. The art works I am making mainly combine parts of the manuscript pages overlain with my own woodblock prints from decades ago. There will, probably, be a book that combines text with image. It is in no way a translation of the original text. It is one artist’s reflections of the magical mirror and timelessness of ancient books.

MER KERTEV KEIN (Black Book)

(The marrow of fine songs)

It is a river

Uncurling in caves,

A white torrent on dark slick rocks.

It is a shoreline cave where mystery is born by echoes,

Far from comfort, where opposites couple in the roaring of it.

Spanning centuries each word tumbles combining elements.

Shadow worlds are dressed in time to shatter and rebuild the fragments.

Oh, speckle-breasted thrush,

Thrice the song to sing.

Morning rain.

Rain of morning.

Dawn storm.

Eternal song.

A river where meaning slips like fishes,

A flash, a flank, and gone.

The next ripple, the next wave, the scintillating light.

Umbral echoes.

It dances from sound to sound.

A juggler slipping from stone to stone

In the midstream rush. Where next? Where next?

And the foaming roar of it:

The world dancing elements and prophecy

And the arc of words cast up and caught, too fast for the eye.

A stream, a stream, of passion itself.

Sound clothed in the names of things,

The naked, naked sound.

A river of God’s being,

A bowstring caught and released,

The mouth’s harp

And its breath drum rhythm song.

There are spirits here

There are ghosts

Where I see these landscapes,

Familiar, sunlit, wild

I have never been.

I am haunted by the names

And by the meanings

Within the meanings I know.

Other pages in other hands:

Mirrored, pushing through.

I am become a palimpsest of prayer-

The angels with clawed feet

Offering golden torcs.

A language of waves,

Of echoing empty hills.

My eyes water the seeds of words,

Grow vast forests.

The dance of sounds:

Lost timeless for a while,

We dance and dance.

The memories are not ours

That lodge in our hearts.

My soul fragments to the four quarters

As though I am already buried.

There is a cold wind from the north.

A woman who is not a woman

Moves at the edges of my sight

Whispering rhymes with berry-stained fingertips.

One of Three and Three in One.

Before Eden we quake.

The Tower was too high,

The Tree was too bright.

The Flaming Sword

That drove us outwards

We stole for shovels and mattocks.

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WAR CRY

A furnace dawn.

It will come on

To rain tears later.

Why are we always

Led by fools?

.

It is not gold, but spelter.

Not ore, but slag.

The forge of beauty is cold.

The taste of the morning air

Is bitter.

.

Two swans, white and dancing,

Fly low following the river westwards.

A sorrowful sky full of rain

Will cause more leaves to fall.

.

All our roads are cracked and failing.

They have borne too much,

Never thanked nor mended.

We watch weeds grow tall in crevices.

.

Within the hills

The druids and saints

Are turned to stone.

The names of things carved and fading

Where sheep are grazing.

.

There will be peace at last

When we are all gone.

First frosts will kill

The last rose.

.

The gods of creation

Sought perfection

And so always failed.

They have taught us sorrow,

The fleeting smile of time

And space.

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It is not the roads that we have lost

That leave us blinkered and aimless.

It is the songs.

It is not the gold we have given away

That leaves us impoverished and hungry.

It is the songs.

Left silent without even echoes.

The body’s rhythm stuttered,

The heart’s reason stultified.

We have gathered, huddled in silent cities,

Upright, efficient, vague and unmoved.

No tides of song, no roaring winds of song,

No rising hearts, no heat.

Never lost in the making of names.

Never tangled in the fleeting syllables.

No lilt, no catch, no net, no praise.

No meaning that dives deep below meaning

And feeds the spirits of the dead and of other places.

No offered breath, no chant that infuses hours with timelessness.

The electric hum of compliance.

The drone of automatic equilibrium.

White noise of dissolving passion.

Quietly waiting an end to tedious static.

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THE OLD TALIESIN

He does not have to raise his voice –

Silence comes with it like the tide on the shore.

Bent-backed, i see his strong staff, serpent-wrapped.

It is still a tree of fruits, sweet and bitter:

A crab apple scented with autumns, hard with frost

And the seeing of too much sorrow.

I see his bright brow, bald as the moon.

He is being chased again through the halls of the world

By another who shall not relent.

And he will change form again,

On wide, sunlit oceans again,

But not until the three drops congeal in truth,

Not until the chariot wheel is cracked,

Not until a new axle pin is shaped and smoothed.

A year and a day,

And we shall all change places.

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Because of their words:

A quantum entanglement.

Whether equation or story,

The ripples vibrate.

All metaphor is truth.

All truth, metaphor.

So said Euron.

So said Eurwys.

They wrap the bones

Of space in pictures.

Weave timelessness

With heroes.

By means of language

And of matter

They fashion magnificent trees,

The span of universes,

A melodious ocean.

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BLESSINGS OF THE MOON

What are the blessings of the moon?

Return, return.

What is worn away,

What is consumed,

What is lost.

Returned, returned.

No diminishing of light.

No perturbation of path.

Return, return.

Is the blessing of the moon.

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WAR CAULDRON

Though they came back

They came back silent

And haunted are their eyes.

The ones cast into the cauldron of war,

An endless source of sorrows.

Silent from what they see.

Silent from what they have seen.

Silent lest the heart break again.

Silent lest the bones become dust

And the dust, the taste of death,

And death, not the worst of it,

And the worst of it, the endless lines,

Moving to the front to die.

Nothing learned, nothing gained.

The drum, the drum, the drum.

Eternal war feeds the cauldron

Dragged from the depths

Where it should have remained.

As if there were not enough sorrow

In this world already.

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