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Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

LANK GRASS

Lank grass leaks light.

Meagre is the wan sun.

The hillside’s low shudder

Shoulders a cold wind.

To and fro the white flocks weave.

The black flocks waver, settle

And disperse in fields.

Time does not pass

That is not sweetly savoured:

Cloaking us in eternal radiance,

An infinity of brilliant shadow.

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DARK NIGHT GARDEN

In the dark night garden.

My throat scratched

by the ice light of stars.

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Owls soothe the blackness

As best they can.

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The drip drip of water

Is the passing of eternal time.

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GATEKEEPERS

Sometimes, sometimes, and maybe always,

The doors can be so big

That they cannot be seen.

There is, they say, a wall

At the edge of the universe

So far away, so far away

That light from there has never reached here yet,

And never will.

It is neither winter nor Spring.

The year is a troubled child, roaring.

You know how I write:

I wait for words to come.

I do not send in dogs to flush out the birds of dawn.

I wait, to the souls of rivers and owls, to the world’s breath,

‘Til one by one, they come, gathering lightly,

Bright buds, whispers from the old roads.

And they may dissolve again.

They may dissipate, the offerings of time and waiting,

Just not enough to stay or settle.

The giants were called obstructors.

You might say, doorkeepers.

You might say, guardians.

Huge enough to carve out universes from their skulls,

Rich enough to give a thousand conflicting cosmologies.

It shall be storm all day today.

Waters bubbling down

From the cauldron of the hills.

Clouds dark and eloquent as Afagddu,

Dark as a cormorant preening on his pylon.

The layers of darkness arranged

For a perfect dive into silence.

The world has tipped.

Its weather spills out across the globe.

Excess and extravagance

Eating the hearts of the poor.

We await a new inoculation against greed.

But all our heroes of success

Only hasten destruction.

And so, I bow to the obstructions of giants:

The doorkeepers who block the way

And ask the riddle.

What skill do you possess

That you think would allow you to pass?

What quality, what virtue, to ensure

Any continued existence here?

What is the art that will not destroy?

What is the craft that we have never encountered?

What reasons can you make sound reasonable,

Sliding your guilt out of sight as if it were not yours.

Can you learn harmlessness?

Facing the storm you have raised

Can you abide at ease in the flickering light

Watching the helpless ones be swept away,

Swept away.

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STONE AGE

Snow clouds drift below moon and stars.

The river roars its long distance.

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What can can we do

But breathe in the warm smoke of fires

And huddle down into the skins of animals?

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In this way

We become the world’s eyes

In long winter.

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Hunters of stories

In the mists.

Recounters of the long herds

And the cunning wings.

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Sustained by the strong life of others.

So we may sing their praises

And with our hands

Shape amber and jet

And flint and bone.

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Beneath the one tree of starlight

And dancing, rising sparks.

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A RAINBOW WALKS

A rainbow walks the yellow hill.

Small birds know that Spring is coming.

The wide-winged hawks, too, wheel and watch.

The rain has reached us now,

Tapping the roof.

Our skies yawn wide here:

From the Radnor hills right round

Through Crychan forest and the hidden dive

To the Sugarloaf and the low lands beyond.

Epynt is the wall of centuries behind us,

The deep valleys of the Cambrians, an uncertain present.

The old stones have been removed,

Or lost, that pinned us to hope.

The roads run thin and crumble.

If you live forever, all this is of no consequence.

If you live one year, or two,

This doubt and uncertainty is extravagance.

Many hereabouts conjure their own futures

From a past they grasp as if it were theirs.

As well to leave it be, leave it be.

There is no power here but a rainbow

Walking, for a moment, the yellow hill.

And the flow of wind and cloud across the horizon

No one can see beyond.

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VIEW

Hokusai would appreciate the view:

Garth Bank rising like a sleepy Fuji

Framed by those leaning pines

And the placid, silent sky.

He would have changed nothing,

But chosen the lines for beauty

And the colours calm and dun as the day.

A landscape without pearls,

Though edged by snow hills.

One by one we lose our weight,

Floating upwards to eternity.

The two rivers whisper it

In their deep and hidden ways.

I catch the scent of planed hinoki.

Last day of January.

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LULLABY

The hidden stars that the owls sing to.

The white branching birches shift from sight into sound.

The failing grains, the falling grains,

Tempered in Time’s wailing rivers.

We fail again to measure glory,

So sleep weightless and numb.

But that is what keeps us sane:

Stick to the lines once learned.

Recite nothing that breaks the rhyme,

The tick and tock of year in, year out

To forbid the howl of ghosts

And the crack of bone.

Keep the marrow hid, untasted.

The slow circling wings have the names of gods that are patient.

The fine threads, the dust of mould settles in.

Sleep, so as not to dream this dream.

Sleep sight and sound.

Slow sighs: the rise and fall of life within.

The woven world, golden with words.

A throb of muscles and distant gunfire.

Keep the visions in the flame of the hearth.

Keep the prophecy in the cooling cauldron.

The future shall be our breakfast

But now we rest, bathed in owls,

The hidden stars, the birch’s bone fingers,

A blanket weight, an imperceptible falling.

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TWO DISTANT MOMENTS

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I breathe the cool cloud

The jackdaws lean into.

The spice of wet grass.

A radiant moment dissolves into eternity.

.

Evening turns to rust.

The blue hills bloom cloud.

Soft, this beautiful melancholy.

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TO RETURN

We live where we can breathe the light of stars.

Where we watch them dowsed at dawn in the rivers of the world.

This is our power: to dismiss your ravings.

To grow food and share friends,

To chop wood and to watch the flocks.

To vanish, when the time comes,

Into the same song our mothers sang.

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TWENTY YEARS ( OF DRUID TRAINING)

1

It was like a rope of light

let down into the chaotic darkness.

Only later would we see

it was a deadly serpent

and the chains of enslavement.

But such is the nature of knowledge

and we shrugged, accepting all costs.

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Nyt o vam a that

Pan y’m digonat

.

It was not from a mother and a father

That I was made.

.

2

One year we were held in complete silence.

No word spoken

but internal recitation of all the masters’ words.

Becoming each one, and their lilt,

moving into their expressions,

reclothed in passions,

Eyes opening in other worlds.

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A’m creu a’m creat

O naw rith llafanat;

.

And my creation was created for me

From nine forms of consistency:

.

3

Another year we each were given

one word only, to unwrap.

To follow, to hunt to its uttermost,

to its bright birth,

In a name that has become ours alone.

A map of our journey,

a seal on our circumference.

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O ffrwyth, o ffrwytheu,

O ffrwyth Duw dechreu;

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From fruit, from fruits,

From God’s fruit in the beginning;

.

4

Once the words were learned

all the rhythms and the hidden wealth:

We could see how nothing existed

outside of those patterns of plaid.

No move, no colour, no conceit,

nothing that was not drawn

from that well of words.

And so we learnt to see around us,

in every hall, in every byre,

where each would walk

and where in each tale

they would place themselves.

And how with a word

it might be shifted

and how with a gesture

the plot might be moved on.

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O vriallu a blodeu,

O vlawt gwyd a godeu,

.

From primroses and flowers,

From the blossom of trees and shrubs,

.

5

One year we were given

the gift of madness.

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Prid o pridet

Pan y’m digonet,

.

From earth, from the sod

Was I made,

.

6

Another year we slept all the long days

and at night gathered around still pools

to learn the dance of stars, and their songs.

Our dreams would be strange then,

and our names, unpronounceable

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O vlawt danat,

O dwfyr ton nawvet.

.

From nettle blossom

From the ninth wave’s water.

.

7

One year we would speak only lies,

until we knew that truth is itself a lie,

and that the tides beneath us

are drowning darknesses

and screaming passions.

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A’m swynwys-i Vath

Kyn bum diameth.

.

Math created me

Before I was completed.

.

8

A year as birds

soaring and rising on thermals,

to find the fulcrum of the winds

and to twist the cloud rivers to rope

for sun or rain or storm.

To placate, to restore.

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A’m swynwys-i Wytyon

Mawrut o brithron.

.

Gwydion fashioned me

Great enchantment wrought by a magic staff;

.

9

A year abiding by trees –

some would not return,

fertilising the world

with their eternal silences.

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O Eurwys, o Euron,

O Euron, o Vodron;

.

By Eurwys, by Euron,

By Euron, by Modron;

.

10

Another, we hunted and slew all the gods,

taking their women and siring new progeny.

These we fed with our own blood and souls,

so that they would know us when we summoned them.

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O pymp keluydon

Arthawon eil math –

Pan ymdygyaed.

.

By five enchanters

Of a kind like godparents –

Was I reared.

.

11

One year to placate and cajole poisons.

Those songs were enticing, sweet as death.

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A’m swynwys-i wledic

Pan vei let loscedic.

.

A ruler fashioned me

When there would have been a burning extent.

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12

Then we did all return to our own families

To serve one year, unrecognised, in their midst.

For many that was the final chain broken to the past.

Allegiance of blood once sweet, now rancid, old, bitter.

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A’m swynwys sywyt

Sywydon kyn byt,

.

The wisdom of sages fashioned me

Before the world was made.

.

13

A year of folding secrets into the mundane;

Of speaking to the deep;

Of remaining human.

Learning that love and hate

Are the gravity that keeps us here.

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Pan vei genhyf-y vot,

Pan vei vach veint byt.

.

When I had being,

When the extent of the world was still small.

.

14

A year polishing swords and mirrors

And placing the singing spells

Of vision and death within them.

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Hard bard bud angnawt,

Yt uedaf ar wawt

A traetho tauawt.

.

A fair poet, of unusual gifts,

I control in song

That which the tongue utters.

.

15

The genealogies of the lost

And the equations of gods;

Their doorways, their doorkeepers.

The mysteries under the earth

Where the stars wander,

Passionate light on an endless river.

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Gwaryeis yn llychwr,

Kysceis ym porffor.

.

I played in the light,

I slept wrapped in purple.

.

16

The transmutation of the body into smoke;

To see without eyes;

To move the shining streams.

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Neu bum yn yscor

Gan Dylan Eil Mor,

.

I was in the citadel

With Dylan Son of the Sea,

.

17

To become free in chains;

To remember the first cauldron

And the journey from there.

Brightness remaining.

To give everything away,

Yet remain undiminished.

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Yg kylchet ym perued

Rwg deulin teyrned.

.

My bed in the interior

Between the knees of kings.

.

18

To summon guards and guardians;

To curse the dreams of kings;

To know the stars’ positions in daylight;

To travel out on rays of light;

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Yn deu wayw anchwant:

O Nef pan doethant.

.

My two keen spears:

From Heaven did they come.

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19

To know one’s manner and time of death;

To move into other forms;

To prophesy and to escape from prophecy.

Transformation at the moment of death;

To remember every name and

The shape and hungers of souls.

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Yn Annwfyn llifereint

Wrth urwydrin dybydant.

.

In the streams of Annwfn

They come ready for battle.

.

20

To return to simple words,

To return to silence;

To remember and forget,

To move freely without ripples.

Three drops spinning –

Their taste, the honey moment.

To know that all is song.

That all is one song, one river,

And to listen to the winds from the hills there,

From the rapids, from the shallows,

To leap upstream, to float downstream.

To inhabit the world that inhabits the wise.

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Ef gwrith, ef datwrith,

Ef gwrith ieithoed.

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He made, he remade,

He made languages.

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Llachar y enw llawffer,

Much llywei nifer;

.

Radiant his name, strong his hand

Brilliantly did he direct a host;

.

Ysceinynt yn ufel

O dosas yn uchel.

.

They were scattering in sparks

From a drop in the heights.

The Welsh is taken from ‘Cad Godeu’, a long and mysterious poem attributed to Taliesin. It is not meant as a commentary on my verses, nor the other way round. But perhaps they both come from the same place and act as a counterpoint in time and space.

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