Posts Tagged ‘landscape photography’


Between heaven and earth

John Price, there, was a blackbird before rain,

a song thrush in the evening.

He kept to small lanes

and taught others his delight

at the end of a hard day.

Carpenter, son of a carpenter,

between the rolling roads and rising views,

between Llangammarch and Beulah,

he measured with a clear eye

the mortice and tenon of his rhymes,

turning the tune, tapping home the notes.

His voice heard mellifluous

by the hills and rivers,

by the gathered singing poor,

by maid and shepherd,

by schoolchildren and labourers.

To sing in chains

is to watch the chains


John Price ‘Beulah’ was born in Llangammarch. He learned his music from a couple of skilled local music teachers, particularly the ‘sol fa’ systems of notating music. Apart from a couple of years in America, where quite a lot of his music was published, he spent his life as an estate carpenter, teaching music and local choirs around the Irfon valley in his spare time. He was a prolific and influential hymn writer in the early 20th century, and also wrote many popular songs. His work did much to promote local choirs, so central to the characher of Welsh rural life.

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The way colours remain long into the grey autumn.

The way the hanging cones resemble syllables

Lingering on the tongue’s tip,

Or kanji haiku brushed carefully careless.

The way these larches let go and dance

On pale cooling hills.

The way images blur and smudge but remain themselves:

Brushstrokes of careless, magnified light.

An autumn aesthetic: nostalgic patterns floating.

Delicacy and decay: look close and the world

Disappears into light.

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DHRUPAD 22 (empty)


emptied the skies,

unwoven by soaring diving swallows suddenly not there

suddenly silent as the still silvered edged trees,

dusted time-dusted, picked out in the

more slanted light suddenly now.

The clouds pouring in now pouring in the winds.

Still warm the sun still warm

though the nights grow cool now.

The days are set,

the days are settled,

they nestle down on quietened fields

in the quiet ripening

fields where the slow pheasants pause

and pick and move on.

There will be the

wheeling words of red kites soon and buzzards soon

their own spells their own

summoning autumn songs

high in the blue and dazzling dazzling heights of

tumbled skies

and the grain nodding heavy

and the hazels winking

and the ash

trees longing to let go,

to let go.

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Golden edged

Summer river

Rocks cooling their toes.

Golden river

Summer gnats

All diminuendo

Cooling their old bones

Grey worn rocks in summer heat

Squatting in midstream

Soft summer rivers

Water folding up sunlight

Shoals of darting fish

High summer

We see them gather

To cool their feet:

These venerable rocks

Dreaming in the slow waters

Time flows silent

By the river side

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Here is my entry to the Llanwrtyd Eisteddfod this year. Entries were in Welsh and English, as usual from all over Wales. The first place (as proper), went to an experienced Welsh-language poet. I was lucky enough to come second.
There are about a couple of months to think through the subject that is chosen each year, which allows enough time to allow ideas to collect and flow. It is not the way I work very often, but usually the first few trials turn out to be the ones I submit. Two poems that survived the process are here below.

Y LLYN (rivers stand still)

It is a palimpsest of all silences
where rivers stand still a while to watch the sky.
A rainbow lake, a grey lake, weathered with the dust of things.
A song in chains, a perfect replica of night.

If you wake here before dawn
(woken by a dream or by a drift of light),
you will see all the valley drowned in mist.
The hilltops, all islands, in a lake of white dew.
Then there is almost nothing as silent as this –
the slow change as breath of light rises
and things of day stir to wake.

All the poets are commingled here
as glimmering fishes, dancing together, dancing apart.
Their mouths silently working, feeding on rhyme and reason.
They hunt the fire within the lake
so they may become someone else.
(Taliesin nods, smiles and winks).

There is not a breath across its surface,
not a moment it does not reflect upon.
In its black belly walk memories and bones of things:
Bones of snow, bones of ice, bones of sheep,
Knuckle-bones of disappointment, sinews of remorse.
This poets’ house contrived of wind and water,
held so still in the patient hands of old valleys,
(for loss is loss and never to be forgotten).

A plaid of wind ripples the lake surface –
as if it were about to say something.


Y LLYN (johnny tomorrow)

Johnny Tomorrow, always returning to the lake that drowned his childhood.
Cool eyes gaze skywards measuring the rain, and the sedges rattling
like the last breath of one happy to be leaving, dust-filled
and with too much darkness to carry on living much beyond the grey lake morning.
He has marked the spot where his ash shall settle,
committed to memory the cloud patterns and the play of ripples along the shore.

How long has Fannog farmhouse been beneath the steel cold waters?
How long its walls become wet caves for tiny fishes?
All the past has dimmed now in fluid liquid distance,
all the present rocking ungainly on doubtful waves.
Only the future is certain: that these clouds shall build and build then pass.
And there shall be a sweet warm breeze of blackberries
from the stretched and torn blue sky high above Dinas
and skylarks, skylarks, skylarks, visible and invisible
(like angels singing the praises of the Almighty).

Johnny Tomorrow, measuring days, rearranging the sorrows of the past.
Beneath each clear reflected memory there is a deeper current, more felt than seen.
As if he knows he should once have offered the best cheeses, the best bread,
the best grain, again and again, until the waters slipped silky aside
and he would be given the joy he patiently awaited, the beauty he dreamed.
For a time, for a time, a sort of perfection, a mirror clear of ripples.
Until the undoing, when all the bright things, all the brightnesses,
walk away without a word, without a look backwards, and all the dreams
silently walking into the slow blue waters as if nothing had been there,
a slow diminishing of rippled surfaces until a perfect sky, a perfect hill,
closes the door on anything other than here and now.

Johnny Tomorrow, waiting for the triple sacrifice, willing to let go
of yesterday, of today, of tomorrow – all those cold chains released,
offered up and sinking into the deep dark waters,
become sediment, settled, longing to be forgotten.
Now, now free, he, too, sinks.
He floats, he rises, knowing not which is sky, which is water,
which is tree, which the root of his tongue’s exultant shout.

Walking into sunrise with no shadow, all music merged into one breath,
bright-browed and open, he whispers: ‘Upon a lake, that is not a lake,
there rests a boat, that is not a boat’.
And the lake, at least, understands.
The doors swing wide and just like this, like this,
he enters the lake’s eye, the depths of an older tale.
It will be a bright tomorrow over the green hills.
A gentle rain rustling across the water, and mayflies dancing.

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The bones of the hills

The bones of rivers

The bones of the mist

The bones of meaning.

How shall we talk to the bones

Of things, the sweet marrow?

That great grey slope,

A rising falling sine wave,

A rumbling note bending horizons.

Converse with it dressed thus in cloud

And become a stranger removed from illusion.

Untied, drifting, anchored only to words

And a dance that is so so slow, it brings worlds to their end

And changes them that new languages are needed

To begin to know it, to begin to know it.

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Who would choose to leave this Llangammarch

Wrapped in birdsong on a warm and sunny morning?

Who would lift their eyes from the glistening waters

Draped with alder shade and grasses?

Throughout the houses it has now the soft hush of loss.

The hollowness of a hollowed name, a rehearsal of memories.

Llangammarch threaded between wood and waters;

An easy confluence neat folded against the green grey heights

of Epynt and its sighing skies, its distances tasting of blue.

Except those who tend the dead ( the small things singing), no one lives on Epynt now.

It is a roofless, empty house, shadowless, and singing winds.

Perhaps it is there our departed go, congregating to watch the unfolding world,

At ease and in peace, soothed by a longer perspective on sorrow and joy.

Who would leave Llangammarch, warm and dreaming?

Those with dreams urgent and golden;

Following the light upstream,

the open skies, the warm winds,

the curlew berating heaven.

A floating world, a breath away.

One breath away.

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