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Posts Tagged ‘landscape photography’

RISING, RETURNING

Rising through mist and rust and gold.

The rain coming and going and the oaks holding on.

History repeating itself, as it always does,

And the eternal poets weeping and laughing

In their sunlit words.

We shall reach home soon, as we always do,

Until the very last time when time shall slow and stop,

And the oaks, only, will be holding on then

In rust and gold and sunlit drifts.

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BOOK OF RIVER

A thousand page book

On ‘What the Rivers Say’

Illustrated by hand with all

The ripples and such.

Equivalents of sound in line

And what the mind says.

And what the wind says

And where it leads

And where it leads back to

Again and again.

A work folded from

One sheet of paper.

A work transparent, translucent,

Opaque.

Where pages and words

Appear above and below each other.

A multitude of one view, an explanation,

A demonstration of the inexplicable.

And all the voices there,

All the voices from along its length,

Rumbled and whispered

And sung and roared.

Tiny sparkled voices, great voices,

Minnow voices, tree root voices,

Drowned minds of poets

And their pale ghosts.

Voices of tributaries, voices of puddles,

Voices of pools, voices of dribbles,

Of moss dripping, of sodden earth,

Of scoured stone, of squiggling,

Worming things.

Reflections still and stately,

Pride that confuses and leads nowhere,

But the doubt that up may be down.

And the river bed, ah! the river bed:

A history of shatterings, of droughts,

Of flood race, of lost footings, of twisted ankles,

Of sobs, of precious things lost

Forever, forever, forever.

Down to the sea with them,

With the gold and the glistening

And the feathers and fluff of life.

The leaves spun to colour

And down away, away.

Stretched from there to here to there,

Beyond distances and the taste of soil

And the taste of heather and the taste

Of ice and of wind in the sparkling hills.

Self-created words, worm words,

Caddis larvae words, fast, flitting,

Slow floating words.

Half sung, half spoken, half heard,

Half, half, some other,

Some other meaning completely.

Completely star-worn and moon-urged.

Life moving downwards towards itself.

A book of river.

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TY CANOL WOOD

It is a narrow house, the wood that is made for eternity.

A smoke of dream shivering upwards into air.

The roots of it smoulder below, flame-leaves lick.

It is a narrow house we are born into.

So much that cannot be reached, cannot be known.

The paths wander between moss boulders and broken bedrock,

clothed in thick green life.

Constrained by thin earth, yet they all do seem to dance,

and at night, some say, they walk

and the rock creaks open,

light spilling from golden halls,

and that unnerving perfect music, too.

A narrow road and a narrow house we have set ourselves,

But that is not the world’s way.

She dances and throws it all away in broad gesture,

Sings at the central hearth, though no-one listens much,

and knows that song is food for every soul.

Feels the billowing thunder head, this haze of gnats,

the invisible silver threads beneath,

and the chains of finest gold,

and the footprints of old gods between the stars,

that is birdsong here

in Ty Canol Wood.

This ancient small woodland in Pembrokeshire is named from the nearby house, Ty Canol, ( the central, middle, house). It has links to Otherworld inhabitants, and has a definitely magical atmosphere. Here I am contrasting the open, generous quality of the natural world with the restricted experience of mortality and human perception. The coffin is sometimes traditionally referred to as a narrow house and the tomb to a house of earth.

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FIRST LESSON

You will have been wandering, I suppose,

Through the sunny, vague landscapes of your life

Following the habitual hounds of thought

Weaving in and out your thoughts.

.

You will have come across these words,

Sucking them up, making them yours

Before even thinking, before even thinking,

To whom do they belong? Whose voice, now?

.

We believe ourselves sovereign here:

My mind, my territory, my dwelling place.

But is that really so? (is what I ask.)

You have wandered into other worlds

Oblivious of boundaries, so hungry for more,

So sure of what is.

In an instant, becoming something else

( a folded, entangled irony, to enjoy all the horror movie themes).

.

A skin not yours adheres,

So you become something you were not.

What we do, we become.

What we take in, becoming our responsibility.

.

Shimmering are the edges of the world.

Mirrors and doorways are everywhere.

Names are roles and speech

Sets about great tidal shifts.

.

You know what you know now

By becoming what you were not.

A communion of voices.

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WAR HAS CAST THEM

War has cast them off the mountain

And they have never yet returned

Except their tattered ghosts minding flocks

And the wind and the rain and the ravens.

The stone, green under soil.

The soil, black under sedge.

The distance sailing above cloud

Shaped by worlds beyond reach,

Reciting the names, reciting the names.

SOME GO

They weave these times of plague

with threads of brighter days.

Sharing the names of farms and families:

Nain, hen nain, hen hen nain,

and the tales of the tales she told.

The hearths swept and re-laid

for an eventual return

after the storms of the world blow by;

the family bible left open at Lamentations.

Some go into the hills,

finding the silent walls

moss green, wide strewn;

the signs all but lost,

like the songs of living and dying:

the songs of harvest, the songs of planting,

the songs of weaving, the songs of lamenting,

the songs of losing and of finding.

It is the songs of living

that we have lost forever;

the songs of simple doing

that told us we were not alone

in feeling the rhythms of breath

as muscles worked and tasks completed.

It is all silent in the hills now.

cloud and curlew,

raven and lark.

Memories fade

as the farmhouse walls

tumble under moss.

Hold on to the names,

the farms, the families,

the cherished dead.

Over their heads

the world changes.

Plague days,

words dying.

The Epynt is an area of high uplands between the Brecon Beacons and the Cambrian Mountains in Mid Wales. A strong, rural, Welsh speaking area, the Epynt was cleared of people at the start of the Second World War so that the land could become an artillery training area. Eighty farms were given a few months to pack up and leave, breaking and dispersing a robust culture to find their own way miles away from their homes. After eighty years the land is still possessed by the government and this year many descendents have got together to remember their families, where they lived, where they moved, who remembers tales of the old days.

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I take my instruction from rivers,

My constancy from the weather.

I endlessly catalogue shadows by their song

And tremble before cracked mirrors.

It seems I fear endings more that anything else,

And the golden dust of victory’s wings.

This debris I accumulate for oracles,

And read meaning into what has gone.

The light of life is an unbearable weight,

Longing so long for irresponsibility.

Silence ye your ghosts

So that you might hear a simpler melody.

You are a moment’s dust gathered

Around each slow breath.

Savour stillness.

There is no war other than this.

Stretched between joy and sorrow

Is where you grow strong.

Attaining emptiness

The world can fill and empty

And fill again.

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RAAG MEGH

find the

slow rituals

that absorb time and space.

.

there is

no hurry,

words vanish, yet

last forever, somehow.

.

the green, warm rains

as soothing as music, fill

the breathing valley.

.

one step

is all it takes

to start a dance

no-one has seen before.

.

we will, for sure,

be swept up in

sadness and joy.

.

we will, for sure,

be persuaded that beauty

is just not enough.

.

slow air pushes

the thin rope of smoke

to and fro by the window.

veils of rain hide the hills.

.

it is green and cool and lovely,

the trees say.

look at our slow dance,

they say.

.

and let go

their tired leaves.

Raag megh is a pentatonic raag (raga) played during the rainy season, but because of its cooling, calming influence is also played at any time and circumstance. i used it as the name of this poem as it seemed to fit its atmosphere and mood. Check out raag megh on youtube, especially those by ustad rashid khan, pandit jasraj and kushal dass.

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A FALL OF KINGS

Crow! Crow! I can hear your voice across the valley,

keening and laughing, looking for your shadow

in the sunlight.

The heart may break into pieces

but the head will still go on nattering.

It can never stop, so used

to being fed by roots and wings

from its buried pit, from its damp, deep well.

It summons up and sees what there is and what is not.

.

A dying comet streaks beauty in the slowest of motions,

upright as a ballerina melted by the music –

Posed and poised, palest and vanishing,

though here, still here, in the dawn light.

.

A voice like last night’s river

hidden in the oak valley,

down by the alders

down by the willows

in their midnight silences.

.

A voice like the morning road

across the valley side,

the streams of bright hope

rolling with ridiculous purposes,

speeding on, diminishing, diminishing.

.

Beauty as it dissolves.

As it becomes something else.

Never moving, but dragged

into other orbits.

We move and stay still,

shine and are dissolved

by the shining.

.

This is what the deep head says;

(the streaming golden head, brocaded

and folded with glory, the red-gold hair

in the golden morning).

The heart with rivers,

the heart with sunlight,

the bones that drag themselves together

from the long dream, and come together

in semblances of something already understood.

The faint, faint sighing hiss of erosion.

.

Crow! Crow!

I hear you laughing across the valley.

The wheel never ends of the horizon,

and all its doors firmly shut for now,

so we can listen and laugh and return

to dreaming a world of bright never-ending.

.

She burns still in the sky.

Return, return!

and that she can never do.

Pale and white-skinned and broken-hearted,

burning, slowly revolving all the fragments of grieving.

Time emptying out, filling up, emptying out.

The head and the heart and the white, white bones.

.

A song as we die, Crow!

Just one more glorious lament.

It is what we were born for, what we can bear,

what will break us into four,

so we become our own horizon.

Smudged out by daylight.

Reborn as stars, the stories will say.

.

And you know them all, Crow!

All the songs, all the stories, Crow!

Laughing and singing

and keening and smiling

and calling from heart to heart,

from sun to shade to sun

across the dancing swallow-crowned,

cool-aired morning valley.

Buried in the sky, deep down in the sky,

in the well of sparkling, starry waters.

Everything is nothing,

and that is perfectly

as it should be.

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ON STRUMBLE HEAD

A scribble the shape of ghost emotion

locked in a dark of its own

eroded by slow dissipations.

Attenuated solidity, it dusts and fragments,

worn to grit and feathers – like the scoop of ravens

haunting the far and airless void of fractured cliff.

.

So it is the sun shines down this stooping lane.

So it is the sky stretches out cloud as thin as yesteryear

down to a sea-wet sunset.

.

This scribble root of gorse, buried and unburied

in a wall of lost time, scuffed by sheep,

peeled back by tooth of buck rabbit

and the hungry fox who is a poet for worms

and small chances in the night.

.

We slope down, we slope down,

a curved limb and a slow-motion fall.

The land reaches out, reaches out,

so in love it is with the distant perfect horizon.

The whitest lighthouse walls, a geometric parable of steps,

a blessing and a curse of isolation.

Here, it says,

not here, it says,

you are going, have gone,

astray.

.

This tower of the last word, reaching upwards in rain and spume.

A dancer, as a tree is, as a gorse bush is,

straining against gravity and used to failing beautifully

with grace and a small distance in the smile,

a cool distance where perfection lingers before it melts.

.

A ringing landscape song: thin lanes,

long and running bravely to thin air.

Dead ends, dead endings where the ravens wait

soaring up the world’s edges,

soaring up to taste the distant crashing,

testing the resilience of time against

the pump of heartbeats.

.

Small things matter, so close we are here to edges,

where the wind throws all opposition down

and the pastel fragile seasons

dress and undress eternal moments.

There is a transparency in the air

above Strumble Head, a wind-blown kiss,

a word of farewell.

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THE PERFECT MEMORY

Chapel oak frames the bright morning.

Crow’s wings: black, white, black, in the early sun.

I have reached into perfect memory

And drawn out a continuous stream,

Beyond names, beyond form.

A song from the bright, wondrous world.

.

My heart is burst into four,

Sundered and cast again into gold.

It hangs by threads strong enough for eternity.

Morning now as hushed as breath of nine maidens.

The slow, rotating mists that rise and sigh.

This summit cannot be reached by thought,

But by the rhythm of steady walking.

It goes beyond names, it goes beyond forms.

.

We have moved beyond safety in the ship of chant.

The confederacy of the senses murmurs in discontent.

Currents and cross-tides and the hidden lands beneath

Steer us whether we choose or not.

It has always been so: these sea roads as fixed as stars

And the stones that measure them staring from the shoreline cliffs.

.

A year and a day: that shall be the last feast.

Months-long travel for the final gathering of memory.

The sowing of seed, the tilling of the soil, the hiding of light.

The letting go, the letting go.

Bones buried, doors locked.

.

Pink thrift on the foreshore.

The horizon unsullied.

We shall sink down in grief here.

Washed away, washed away.

.

White crow, black crow, of perfect recollection.

Beyond names, beyond forms.

We are all gathered up –

The long roads mapped between stars,

The final feast where all is swallowed up.

.

Bright are the beams of its hall.

Its fires, a delight, and its succour complete.

Light and dark the chapel oak holds firm.

Vast are the teachings within silence.

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