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Posts Tagged ‘landscape photography’

SUGARLOAF (Cambrian Rift)

It is a sweet hill – the steep border between

The nodding bracken and the water meadows.

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A straight road to heaven,

Last descendent of those ancient hills

That sit before the throne.

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A knife-edge of rock slicing the wriggling roads.

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Climb up it, and you shall see wonders

Where silence tumbles into cold wind.

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Below, trees sway ranked in autumn colours.

They await the battle of winter.

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Here, the tattered sky catches in grasses

And thin earth throbs with distance.

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Road and river, far below, glow golden –

The land made soft by the flow of Towy

Fades down to the warmer west,

Down to the sea beyond horizon’s hills.

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Breath and heart and hope rise here:

Who would not long for wings?

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SOLSTICE LIGHT

Listen, listen, the slow light of solstice morning.

Time shuddering, time standing still.

A word wind muttering indistinct, its rhythms and intent

As steady as oars would be, as steady as oar strokes across a glassy sea.

Listen, listen. We were all in one band, a magnificent number.

Heading west ( always heading west into darkness there, into the mists).

One raised his voice – the song we all knew.

One of those songs whose words would be ridiculous, banal,

Without the tune. Whose chorus impossibly united the living and the lost.

The glass sea slid by. Time ran out.

Some said it was a hard coming of it that year, but it was not.

It was not. It was as easy as breathing.

The reasons, so reasonable. The logic, implacable.

The rhetoric, bombastic and irrefutable.

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The watchmen were silent, uncommunicative.

Impossible it was to know the minds of the doorkeepers.

We were there to free the imprisoned,

There to reclaim what had been lost,

There to carry home what had been taken.

Voiceless one by one we fell into silence there.

Burning bright as phosphor bombs falling from the air.

Bright as sparks hammered from the anvil.

The prize was claimed, as it always is,

The light released, the cave broken upon,

The tomb unsealed, the spell broken, the curse trod down.

But the world now, irrevocably changed.

Seven with breath, seven with tears still falling,

Seven tired and justified. Seven wan and clustered stars

Backward looking, racing on.

In a world, in a morning, not ours.

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The slim waning moon floating into the stormy dawn,

Losing its light minute by minute. No longer noticed.

Fading into day.

I have cast out on the grass, seeds for the small brown birds,

For the hungry and the cold.

The eagles and the hawks have gone. The songsters silent,

The stately waterbirds, the watching herons forgotten in the fluttering rush.

I shall sing the names, uphold the excuse,

a psalmist counting off lines in a cold cell: the cajoling verses of warrior kings

For fickle vengeful gods, the rosary of blood red beads, the genealogies,

Until the shivering silver-edged awen fails, tumbling into mute silence,

Voiceless watching an unextraordinary morning.

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If we had not been so strident, so golden,

Could we have passed the doors unscathed?

Had we understood what was asked of us,

Has we not mistaken guileless honesty as elaborate deception,

A trick to catch us out,

Could we be in those halls still feasting?

There with no needs to forget,

no weight of dust and falling radiant starlight upon us.

No need to elaborate the litany of the dead,

Compose harmonious laments, gather together the names,

as if they meant anything any more, as if we remembered

Their bright eyes, their smiles, their warm strong hands,

Their words around the fires.

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The ashes are cold and must be cleared now.

Reset the hearth. Begin again.

The splash of sweeping oars and the crack of canvas receding.

Our bright futures looking westwards: the new approaching night.

It is not what it could be,

Not what was promised.

But it is what it is.

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SHADOWS

These lines – the chiselled shadows of words.

Consonants moth-whispered, vowels, lichen-grown.
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A sunlit porch and laughter.

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Light swings round the mountain

throwing a cooling shadow

across wood and field.

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Ghosts do not tip-toe here.

As if they own the place, as if they always have,

Squeezing us between regret and reminiscence,

stained by poetry, small life blooming

on cold fallen hearths.

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Their lilt of names and

who lived where

and who they loved

and who they hated,

whose sheep on which pasture,

whose son left and lost in another war,

whose daughter run off to a bigger life.

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Pipesmoke and murmurs,

paraffin and oiled rags.

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The long light stretches between October trees.

In the cities the streetlights flicker on.

On the farms ashes raked,

Cold stoves chivied back to life.

Small lives shadowed by greater things.

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The chink of tools, the warm scent of sawdust.

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A gentle downward slope into night.

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JOHN PRICE ‘BEULAH’

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

dissolve.

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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Larches

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)

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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SUMMER RIVER

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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