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Posts Tagged ‘habit’

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DESCANT

Sullied though we are,
The earth shall take us back to itself.
They remain, these fading memories,
And the scudding light over far hills.

Certain is our fate, and always has been:
Summer moves graceful on winter’s bones,
The dancer and the music of the dance.

In desolate darkness is the night,
Where the ashes fall, where the pines fall,
Where the oaks fall, owl-filled, moth-filled
By the slightest light of speeding stars
Through a roaring of winds, the river mind speaks.

And in sunless cwm the shepherd’s house.
Brown light as thick as honey,
Walls sullen and the ticking clock.
An accumulation of sorrows and a life
Of small dissappointments nested in dust.

Belonging is the key to it all,
The only pause in a precipitous dream.
But clinging is not the same.
Wrapped around the web of memories,
Too rent and uncertain to give much comfort.

What is that name we have given ourselves?
And where was the road we turned off to get here?
I have forgotten the names of stars and trees,
And the clarity of goodness and of light.
Above all, I rely on whispers from clouds
And the words flowering from the oldest books.
For they glimmer, (do they not?) , with what has been lost.

All the doors stand open, as they ever have.
All the maps spread out and referenced.
All the ways well trod, all the paths tended.
Yet we move as if none have moved on before us
As if nothing else mattered so much or was so dear.

But the earth shall take us back to itself,
And we who can not forgive
Will be forgiven.

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SCRIBBLE RIVER

1
The trees bend low,
The hills, open, roar.
The world spins fast
On its way to war.
2
Drenched in
Their own silence.
The hills.
Made cool and
Winged to the sky.
3
Tongue numbed:
The eloquence
Of tumbled waters.
4
Wind harp in melancholy minor
Sweeps, weeps and fades
Across the roofs,
Through the forest.
5
A flint
Struck from verse.
Bright words
Fly splutter
In endless rain.
A breathing on the roof,
Laughter soft in the gutters.
To measure out a little time
Upon this place.
6
By here we wander
Sullied by reason
And the oldest of stories.
Chained and unchained,
Livers pecked-
Our own hungry ambition.
7
We, unbecoming all,
Scatter aimless,
True to undiscovered dream
And the whispers of the greedy dead.
8
Here they speak
One long river of words.
A thrush by the waterside
Cracks a snail on green grey rock.

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6

Ottid eiry, guin aren;
Segur yscuid ar iscuit hen;
Ryauar guint, reuhid dien.

This verse has a beautiful rhythm and some clearly visible rhymes. The last word on each line rhymes ( aren, hen, dien), bringing a clear finality to the clipped imagery. The second line emphasises internal ‘s’ sounds and a sonic and semantic similarity between ‘yscuid’ (shield) and ‘iscuit’ ( shoulder). The third line rolls with repeated ‘r’s. ( ryauar, reuhid).

A fairly literal translation is:

‘Falling snow, white hoar-frost;
An idle shield on an old man’s shoulder;
Very great wind, grass freezes.’

The second line may have been a well-known epithet regarding uselessness, appropriateness, wasted effort or similar. Whatever it is alluding to, there is a clear contrast and comparison between the external conditions of winter and the frailty or limitations of humans.

A shield on
An old man’s
Shoulder is a
Useless weight.
This battle lost:
Blood freezes,
Hair whitens.
A rattling breath,
Needle cold in
The lungs.
Cold wind scythes
The land, all falls
Cold and motionless.

A shroud of memory shields the real.
A heavy weight is its covering.
A welcome numbness dulls each sharp edge.
White is the weight of snow,
White the beard of frost.
White the hair, white the vision.
White the mountain shield above the mist.

Heavy and lame the old man’s hand.
Dead weight the shouldered shield.
Neither weapon nor defence,
No comfort, but an accretion of habit,
Laden down, a bitter burden.
A cloak, a blanket would better serve.

The only blanket is snow.
The only battle, against cold.
The one breath, a wild wind
Turning grass to steel.
A bitter blade of winter
On bitter blades of grass.

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