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Posts Tagged ‘elegy’

Llangammarch Blaze

There now, lay it all down,
The soft memory and the memory of hard bone.
After the year’s first true frost
A dead sheep lies in the field becoming a dance of hawks and ravens.
And on a lonely hillside unremarked
A blaze has born the babies away.
A smudge of smoke and the light of morning
Is no prayer of peace to ones who wait
Empty-hearted for better news.
The village, warm now in sun, silent.
Thoughts unthought of before – friends vanished,
Those known, now unplaced, a hollowness
Around memory clung to.
It is an uncertain anchor to hold on to –
This world that blinks apart from day to day.
Should we rise and flow like the oak leaves
On the cold dark currents of the Irfon?
Or wrap around like ivy, cling like lichen bloom
To this weathered stone.
We are a thin soil that the wind will blow and the waters leach.
The babies are gone who should be dancing.
The mothers silent, slowly dissappearing.
Pick it back to the bare bones.
Feed the world with our ripped out sorrow.
We are nothing. But we were loved.
Once named, now melted back to everything.
A thin soil on scarred stone.
Golden are the tree tops, a palest blue sky.
The ravens dance in their ring, in and out,
While the sun still shines,
While the sun still shines.

written as the news was emerging about the great and tragic loss in our small village. A family house destroyed by fire in the night, a few children escaping, but many more lost. Llangammarch now besieiged by hordes of prying press and film crews.

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magenta orange turquoise

KEY EIGHT
(Iona)

The heart beats
Then it stops
Then it starts again.

How strange!
The eye that is
The organ of understanding
Is the well
From which fall tears.

Storm clouds rush in,
Salt on the air.
Amongst the leaves
A thrush singing:
Listen, listen, listen to me.
Beauty, beauty, beauty.

No heart can overtake
The long passages of time.
Beauty dissolves.
Kings, saints, seasons, tides
All vanish, vanish
Into the hollow hills.

The hollow hills
Will vanish into the sea
And sunset.

The eye
Forever bathed in tears,
The heart that starts
And stops –
The thrushes song.

The clouds
Pass over:
Sunlight
On the mounds of the dead,
Dancing with the eternal dancers.

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VEIL

Here, embedded in small, lapsed
Suspended moments,
(Gossamer, silk, turning)
Too early, too late,
Webbed with inconclusive dream,
Stirred spirallings, seed of wind and light.
A weighing and disregarding
(The shallow confusions of purpose)
Sense and organs of sense
Bow to slow breath:
The fine, high transformation:
Time into space
Dissolving to time once more
(A thin cloth, this melting memory).

They sing,
Though there is nothing
To sing about,
They turn and wander
Unaccompanied, perfect,
These angels, these spirits,
These exhalations of earth.

A moist dawn air-
News from the sea,
Too soon for Spring,
Yet Spring has begun.
Moving on from now:
An arc of returning gravity
Held, pulled, this roaring love.

The eloquent have learned to
Separate and divide,
A weighing of threes
(These simple roads forgotten).
Coleridge would stir in sleep
Mud, slow drying, on coat and boot,
One fading leaf, one budding stem
Has all the answers
We shall ever need
An we blink
An we stay awake.

The slow sonority-
An old man tastes
The luxury of ancient language,
A fine whiskey
Sweet with smoke and bitterness.
His rhythm is a road across hillsides,
A road into morning.
A fine line
Dividing weeping
And contentment,
As it always is,
As it always
Is.

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SHRUG

Between the noise
Of the ordinary
It slides,
Wrenched voidwards.

We have banished the gods that forgave us.

Fractured sense,
Faith, trust crumbles.
We are bought and sold
Regardless.

Boundaries of hell worlds washed and fogged.

The future pools
Sickening slicks.
By root
We have cursed
Both branch and leaf.

No threat to our reason, no curb to our greed.

With shrugs,
With excuses,
By turning away,
With cowardice,
With arrogance,
We deny possibilities.

We whip on and ride the four horses, the skeletal winds, the wrack and ruin.

Our waste
Fertilises nothing.
We are clean and safe,
Comfortable and righteous.

And I do not trust the dream of flicker, the news of noble gatherings.

Where is there a land
Not soiled?
A path not sullied?

We defecate in the mouths of our children

And see it expedient, economic.
The tyranny unbridled, unbound.
We replace the spectres
So cunningly slain.

The world abandoned
To the demons inside us,
Nor shall we ever be forgiven.
I fear we shall never be forgiven.

—-

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Ash, my tall and graceful one!
My sky-sweeping, rooted one!
Pillar of the upland airs,
Feather-leaved and blowsy one!
May you live forever
On the green meadow,
The cliff-side wood.

May you not decline
With the eastern wind
That blows unwitting death.
It is not hateful, nor malicious,
That small spored thing.
It is itself, longing to live,
Breathing when given space to breathe.
Happy to flourish free.

But all eat the other.
Each food delightful,
A means to be maintained,
And who can dare say
This one form has more need,
More right, than that other?

These hills, sighing open,
Green-pillared with ash and maple.
Sky-open, crow and jackdaw,
Hare and hawk,
Were once oak deep
’til cropped for pit and forge.
We ourselves so keen to scrape
And burrow, scratch and gather up.
Those stone walls now, too,
Broke and deserted, wooded once more.

Our curse in time, our measurement,
Our expectation.
Climbing into the hill country, (warm air,
Cool breeze), time clicks backwards
In increments,
By hours, by days, by weeks,
By months, by years.

Midsummer here
And the hawthorn still heavy,
Chestnut red and proud.
And the stone, the building,
The road, they slip back
To a century, two centuries, ago.
Time slowed in the hills,
Time holding on.
Like the ash, time growing tall
And bending – green time, leaved, roofed.
Time cherished, built up.

Our habitual curse:
A narrow view on time,
A time of coming and going,
A fragment of patterns
Made larger than horizons by life.
A horizon invisible, but for you,
Towering ash, standing
So fair and tall.

Today is enough.
Today is forever.
Weep not for what will be,
What will never be.

The green shadow cools
Down by the Derwent,
A haven for the silk sheen of ducks,
Their quiet chuckling graze in grass.
The goatsbeard turning to sleep at noon.

——


This collected around a journey up north into the Peak District of Derbyshire, the beginning of the Pennine uplands that run up the centre of England to the Borders of Scotland. The highest lands are sparse fields, stone walled, crow-haunted, with windbreaks of sycamore and beech. In the high valleys, steep and narrow, magnificent ash trees grow tall and broad. Here ash and maple (sycamore, great maple) take over from oak as the main woodland species.

Chalara fraxinea is the rather delightful name of the ash dieback fungus, first appearing in the forests of Poland quite a few years back. Since then it has made its way westwards devastating ninety-nine percent of Europe’s native ash trees. Now it has finally reached Britain. There is a slight hope that natural genetic diversity will allow five percent of trees to be resistant. It is very difficult to know what to do in the face of such changes. Life is a delicate, though robust, balance. The rise of one species and the decline of another is due to so many factors, and is part of the way things work here. We may favour the presence of one species over another, but our human view is always prejudiced by our habits and preferences. In the longer view of time, ninety-nine percent of all species that have ever existed here are extinct, and yet it all goes on. Who can say what life-form has more validity than another?

All we can offer is our appreciation for what is around us. Wishing all well. That may be all we can do. It may be the best we can ever do. It may be our sole purpose. To care for. To wish well. To cherish. Each day as it is.

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jindai treetops2

Here is the final part of this long piece I started on my arrival in Japan last week. It was a lot longer than I expected, but then grief and loss, death and life, love and longing are big subjects.
I have been working from an old notebook so it has taken longer to transcribe and post than usual. Maybe now I will start some slightly more jolly haiku!

JAPANESE SYMPHONY, EIGHTH MOVEMENT, ‘Uguisu’

i do not know ho we can stay.
little bush warbler, i do not know
how it is we can remain.

i am drunk upon your water-clear song.
i am full of white tears for lost worlds.

i do not know how we can remain
so diminished, so lost.

within the song is always silence.
within the sorrow, something else,
something else.

we go, must go,
we cannot stay
forever looking at sunsets and weeping,
in the cool clarity of summer stars.

we are clothed in your song,
little warbler, drunk and raining,
wingless on bare branches.
blades of grass, single petal falling,
we shudder and break
into a thousand pieces.

i do not know how we remain.
we are not who we were,
nor who we are
nor who we could have been,
little bird.

it lies in sorrow, little bird.
it lies forgotten between us, little bird.
it lies between if only and never.

breath comes in and goes out.
joy and sorrow, the flickering breath:
the light and shade of this life.
how can we remain?

song only comes as we expire,
breathe out, let go.
the beautiful voice, little bird,
escaping, gone,
no longer belonged,
no longer belonging.
offered.

memory and forgetting –
the only gifts
we have ever owned.

—–

shady pool1

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