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Posts Tagged ‘lament’

When they speak it is rivers.
It is pines roaring in the wind.
It is sparrows at daybreak,
Swallows in blue open skies.
It is the rain in old gutters.
Vague as mist-hugged valleys.
Harsh as ravens and the keening
Of spread-winged kites.

And yet it fades and falters
Year by year pushed to a further edge,
The language of grass and trees,
An anachronism.
As if it had not tumbled down
From the highest empty uplands.
As if it had not been passed along
The careful tales and whispered spells.
As if it were not that simple coagulated dust
Brushed from God’s own hands.

Jealous of its rainbowed fluctuations,
A by-passed parish, a redundant economy.
It is a sad craft that kills the past.
It is a miserly mind that accepts
No drop of mystery to remain.

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And they are still here
Still beneath the land
Protesting the desolations
As ravens do on heather banks.

And they are still here
Too proud to move or sway
Driven down, weathered and grey
As their own gateposts, slowly
Laminating, word on word,
One purpose losing its one memory.

And they are still here
Though always leaving.
The language of rivers
Muttered on slated lips.
Eyes closed,
Dreaming on hilltops.

They are still here
Initials carved on tumbled stones.
The neat hearth scattered,
Black earth, cold fire,
Comfort lost.

They are still here on
The cool breezed morning,
In dew bright hollows,
On silent roads
Sunlit, full of hope.

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SUNDAY HYMNS

What
Is a language
That is not spoken?
Silence.

Silent as the empty cottages,
As the deserted fields,
The grass-grown tumps,
The heaped-up midden.

Good men, great men and brave,
One by one, or leading others.
Seeming a wash of tides,
Motions of change,
Revolution of planets.
So they may be,
Or ripples on a pond,
A perturbation,
A breeze upon the forest tops:
Here, a noise, then gone.

Where are the great waves
As the tides recede?
Their roar growls less.
Sorrow and joy only.
Now a tale,
A whisper,
An epitaph,
A place for ivy fingers
To cleave to,
Slurring every mark,
Knife and chisel.

To end the silence,
Or to restore the silence?
To weave it.
Become substance,
Become word,
Become rhythm.

When does habit
Turn tradition?
When, pleas and moans,
Prayers?

Sunlight on
The distant mountain.
A wren seeks grubs
Among broken
Flowerpots.

—-

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TURNED, GONE ON (requiem)

Stillness now, lost blue and empty silence.
After wracked storm, tearing breath,
Tangled rain. The howling
Has ceased, calm, calm.

Where sun reaches, there
Is hope of a little warmth.
But little warmth in shade,
Little warmth when the face
Turns away from light.

Calm void where you have gone,
Spacious, rested, freed from pain of time.
Naked void where you were,
Are, no longer.
The empty fields,
The stiff sloped horizon,
The days ahead unformed, vast.

These winter roads
Will lead to a surprise of spring,
But not soon, not soon.
Not before the world becomes ragged.
It must become ready, choosing, too,
Letting go what is,
Letting uncertainty bloom.
Too tired to breathe
One last slow, drawn out,
Whispered breath.

The void of skies
Fills slowly with new cloud dreams.
The scoured earth will clothe its scars
In new skins of green life.
The hollows will slowly fill,
The woods, they will be bound in birdsong.
It will become gentle, dancing once more.
But not soon,
Not soon.

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How a language is written, how the sounds are turned to shape. What changes, what pathways are found and lost? Here we have English, painfully constructed step by step from left to right, from past to future, letter by separate letter, precise as bricklaying.

Does each language- tongue music- become more or less when it is understood? It stays art when the medium of sounds and the message of symbols somehow dance together. Otherwise it is in danger of becoming a servant to the mundane instruction.
Free of meaning it stays a sussuration of mind, sine wave and pattern in the white noise of the universe.

Arabic script is maybe one of the artistically fluent of language symbols. It reminds me of medieval musical notation, rise and fall of chant, images on a distant horizon, ripples on the surface of a stream……..

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Woke like Coleridge from the opium of sleep:
Flashes of glimmer
scales of colour
Slippery eels sinuous muscular lines of language
Lost in murky depths.

Sitting in dapples of sunlight.
Lost in the tree tops are the
Voices of doves,
Maybe angels
Or djinns
Blown in from the desert
Lonely,
After
So many endless years
Of pious
Rigid-backed denial –
The bitter tongues
Of the righteous.

So many pious years

In the dark cool cave before dawn:

Day by day
The moon is filling up
With tears.

Even with a thousand arms,
Kannon,
How shall you gather up
All the lost?

How encompass
All the bereft?

Things
Are moments
And cannot be prevented
From flying away.
Even the stars….

Even the stars.

This spring
Under the cherry blossom
Will gather the wan smiling ghosts
Once more.

We are dust
Held together by song.

Sing
Sing
Before the song is forgot.

The tongues of the djinn
Fading in daylight.
Muttering
Back to the cerebellum,
To practice cadence
And metre.

Voices in Arabic:
The wind as it dances and whips
Around tent wires and mast heads,
Aeolian harmony
Between knotted spirals
Dust devils
Sand patterns.
Well water
Cold night air
Crescent moon.

In Kuwait,
She said,
Every household
Had a musician,
Every one
A diver
For pearls
Of cool, iridescent
Beauty.
Oud in the shade of night fall……

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