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Posts Tagged ‘change’

the year sweeps seasons
like a passionate cloud
from these soft hills.

and the bitter cold is here
and the turbulent waters
and the fire that talks loud and soft,
singing of snakes and angels in the grate.

and the hush-now, hush-now of cars
speeding past to work in the draughty town.

the trees dark and bare
sliced in thin moonlit night.

yesterday, the deep, blue-shadowed snow.
now, a knifing wind, a fast melt
and word of valley floods.

bless the bones of things,
though they may ache and ache.
on bitter slope the memories slide.
it is a thin sinew
holds everything together.

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Storm Morning

Into the slow heron lift of it.
The storm morning roar,
Like a city train, rattles roof and windows.

Druid trees with one eye shut
Stand on one leg and let go of nearly everything –
That is what their roots, deep as choirs, allow.

On green meadow and crashing hill
We push against a sting of rain.
Lost, but not lost as the ones by the sea,
Watching the waves eat the shore and the harbours drown
And all the long, safe years melted away
In a wall of water and sound.

It is a patient world, willing always to start again.
A reformulation of parameters, season by season.
What is gone is gone, the autumn trees say.
What is gone is gone, says the storm of grey morning.

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A Season’s End
(Epitaph for Vicky)

we become more uncertain
and waver by the day,
our past melting behind us.
a change of season, inevitable.

where now that warm pulse?
that voice? that presence?
altered a little into sunlight,
into a vast, bright landscape,
into a bigger heart.

for there will always be beauty,
though no one promised joy
without sorrow.

we have melted into summer
wrapped in cooling green shade.
and some of us have not returned.

here then, the blossom heart of hawthorn,
here, a cowslip sky and creamy elder.
in the forest still are one or two violets
and the sound of running water,
and the droop and sudden flash of bluebells.
the sigh of swallows and the cuckoo misted valley.

where she walks now is all beauty,
and calm, and easy forgetting.
a summer that shall come upon us all.
and a long day, and a warm evening,
and a long, silent, singing night.

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Looking towards Carn Wen at evening.

To watch the pass
of light and dark
and how they each
shape these hills, this way and that,
is all I wish now to do.
we live, we die
as the distances reveal themselves
then vanish with the pass of a cloud.

if not to fill our time with beauty,
if not to see the world as it becomes us,
then what?
a flicker of pain, a flight upwards of joy
and the rolling of light in the valleys.
what other instruction
for a being of discernment?
what other lesson but this?
and to count the days
’til cuckoos and swallows.
and to keep to the constellations
of sheep and the openness
of lambs.

we shall end again soon enough.
peace is here
and it is sufficient for a whole universe.
and to watch the clouds pile
and drift at the setting sun.
and the smell of dew
on grass.

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ARTIST DEPARTS

1
Snow falls down, the dead begin a new dream.
Their words, sweet and bittered breath
Beneath roots of moistest tongue, a tree of old passions,
Cross-tied upon new cardinals
And drooping with melancholy.
The forest shifts gracefully in rumour.
One has left, they say, who chose his own way
And chose his way of passing.
No greater gift than this: to bequeath us his good death
And a long, slow, fading song.
Every language, a mysterious stream.

2
Rain turns snow in darkness.
Across the valley, farmhouse lights prick emptiness.
In the deep below, the ever-river tumbles.
There is news of an old man leaving,
Turning to dream another dream.
His quickening smile, (the birds of dawn
Forgetful of darkness), now the singing sun.
Up the hill the moon sinks backwards, thin and white.
It will linger a while with his words,
Longer than most, will not be forgot so soon
Sunk in knotted bones of generations,
A certain look, smooth-gestured.
Carried on, carried down, the river’s song is the same.
The farmhouse lights one by one blink out,
The stars darkened, the dreamers shift
And turn onto their sides, facing the change.
As the rain becomes snow,
And the river in darkness,
And the song becomes somewhere else to go.

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The green grasses heaped and peaceful, as they always are,
Steeped and shaped by nibbling sheep, bowing, pausing, moving on
Like writers, like painters, considering the sound,
Chewing over the bitter and the sweet,
The limp sorrow, the tight-wound grief,
The bound and binding pain not forgot:
Not forgot though buried deep in heaps across the hills.

The buzzard cries and red kite wheels for the recklessness of princes.
Ancient trees so uprooted, excised, their long shadows lost
And peasant weeds happy for short moments in sunlight once more,
Before the whining scythe of war steals life and land that cannot ever be owned.

This sorry foreign tongue wanders uncertain paths
Around lost sound and buried names.
Those gone before now hood their eyes to listen by the warm hearth of God.
I await, as always, their sure narration, its flow and lilt as if my own:
A habit of work and weather, of sewing in twilight,
In beer that eases ache of long labour
And puts by for a while the winds of winter
And the haunt-eyed want that loiters,
Hanging its dark shade by every byre and door.

I know where I myself would be
To soothe and polish the grain-edged slate of sorrow.
Down with the world’s roar at Pwll Bo, its throat of rock slaked and scoured.
I would be rain-cooled, too, in the smoke cloud of Cwm Dwfnant,
Forever under the big hills staring bare into God’s blank blue face.
I would crouch, nostrils spiced with fern and fir
And the damp drip from the birch, itself turning silver and gold
From each and every early frost.
Below where the hidden boys are ever hunting their courage,
Learning to kill for bitter whim of distant government,
Watched by raven eye and silent nested hare.

All beaten down, we have flocked to the cities to be sold for pennies.
Huddled there believing safety is numbers from the wilds and curves of the world.
All winnings, though, are desolate or requisitioned, elbowed out, of course, by the mighty.
Rephrased, remapped, remade, the hills are worn down by the measuring,
(Though they clutch still their gold, their own cheese and milk,
Their own paths downward to certain golden summer
Where the hounds, red-eared, hunt the dreams of heroes.)

Crouched like God’s old hound, the church of Llangammarch,
Perched on its very own hill, push-toed between streams,
A confluence of dark and light, washed in gravels, the quick dippers and lowing cattle.
There above the porch, cut deep in fragmented stone is carved
The old fight between the four corners of the world and the spiral twist of eternity.
And we look on, tangled in, amazed, forever wanting what is neither this nor that.
But listen. There is no more to fight for where we have found our home,
Where we breathe in and out all weathers, the hills of rolling meaning
And the churchtops of exaltation, asleep in sunlit valleys,
Companions with the living and the dead, a ripened mulch, a song worth singing.

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The image is from an old early medieval carving now above the doorway of the church in Llangammarch Wells

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THE OLD MAPS

These threaded paths, it seems, fade first
As the stones are scattered,
hearths humped green and cold,
Byres split, lying sky open,
No more the warm breathed huddle.
No more the feet trampling bracken down the hill.

The roads, though, weave on, either greater or slighter.
They follow the slopes of land and hedge,
Over ford, under the woods, around murk and mud.
Ropes between names that remain much the same.

On the old maps the boldest lines are given to hills and rivers,
The certain land, the shaped sky, the body’s eye for how far to go.
Bold are the mountains names,
and all the rivers and streams called out strong.
The railways proudly curved,
each cutting marked, each bridge, each station.

The nested churches, so many of them,
on river washed promentaries, round walled yards,
God’s garden planted with the patient dead.
All the departed flock silent to wake and watch
The gaudy tombs of the living, their leaden lovely flesh,
Their thirsts unquenched, drowned even, downcast even,
Lost in a mistaken world, old maps redrawn,
The roads lost, the roaring wind, the bleak days.

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