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Posts Tagged ‘Bran the Blessed’

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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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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