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Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

Sorrow and joy

Dark and light

And all the colours

Stretched as an arcing bow

Between them.

Tell me,

Which is the best?

Which is better?

I know the sorrow that is better than joy.

The darkness more comforting than light,

Water mixed with jet.

.

It is on the heights of Beulah now,

Hung between heaven and earth,

Between the sun and the shadow

As the light shifts, too, across the valley,

And the cloud-flocks drift slow

And easy at this turning of the seasons.

.

Gwion Bach, told to watch.

Bored and tired of staying still,

‘Til suddenly he knows it all

And is off trailing glory,

And laughing at the witch

He has stolen it all from.

.

Yet he, too, is swallowed whole at last

And set adrift on eternity,

Forgetting his name,

Remembering everything else.

All the rivers of the world flowing over him

Until he bursts up loud and shining,

Words cascading,

Putting all the rest to shame.

.

No matter, no matter,

That you are not the best, love.

As long as you do the best you can.

Put no one to shame with your brief flash of brightness,

But light up all so all may see they burn as bright.

.

For a moment,

For a moment,

We shall be as clear and light.

Before the twilight cauldron

Shall silence us all.

The arcing fall, the leap,

The endless golden moment

Between worlds

Filled with song.

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THE COMPETITION : 3 Prophecy of Glory

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Sunlight shines on the hills over there,

Above Beulah, between heaven and earth.

Watch it alight upon Allt-y-gest, upon Garn Wen.

It strokes the steep valley sides with glory.

We wear the crowns that others have made.

A moment in the sun, a hope it might remain.

The rivers are nearly dry here now,

Their voices silenced, their motion stayed.

If it rains in the mountains

The rivers shall rejoice here.

Thunder in the hills,

And then floods will be upon us

In the parched plains.

This glory steps up to us

Like a gift from the Tylwyth Teg,

A moment of gold in the late afternoon,

Before groping twilight shrouds in stillness

All but the endless dancing midges.

Sunlight now is on the bright brow of the hill.

Sing your song, then return to silence.

All the waters of the world are one river.

A moment of sparkling beauty is shared by all,

The passing sunlight, the rising moon,

The susurration of a million stars.

We rise and fall in a perpetual choir.

Sing to your soul, and be still.

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THE COMPETITION

( 2. The Prophecy of Flood)

Tell me, then, that there are no gods of weather

Now everything is measured, everything explained.

That we can go about our business safe and sane,

Not wondering what shall befall us if we anger or stray.

That knowing vanquishes fear.

That naming disarms the fact.

.

I would not pit the gods of cities against the gods of the world.

Though the god of money enchains us to its tumbling promises,

Though we are comforted here by the law and order

Laid out in concrete streets.

.

The breath of time we measure, but the god of Time is not of us.

The god of storm, the god of light, the god of life, the god of death,

The god of twilight, the god of decay.

They are all no smaller now than they were before.

Tame the weather, and there is a greater weather.

Cage Time, and there is a greater Time.

The gods are those against whom we dare not compete.

The sky towers we have built of swaying, rickety philosophies are no match.

The chiselled, honed words, all the equations, mean nothing

But a murmur dream.

.

Is there anything more poisonous to the soul than competition?

The battle for worth, the war for best?

Listen! I am the best at sorrow, the best at melancholy.

I am forty days of rain. My bitterness, a pointing finger

That wipes the slate clean. Above all. Below all. Separate. Distinct.

In the flood I am the spark that burns down the one remaining boat.

Sneering at lesser things is my entitlement.

First among the angels. Too great to fall.

The Elders lined up there on their thrones, counting points, counting scores.

Chosen by the chosen to join the ranks of the chosen.

Offer up your pious praise to God and deftly gather up the gold.

We honour the first, the second, the third (with a shrug)

Wave through the beautiful, wave through the best.

Wave off the rest. Judge and separate.

Gwion was a pauper, grabbed by the ear and told to watch.

Afagddu, the soot black sullen shadow, was the chosen one,

Born for greatness, a certain destiny.

Taliesin: best at bragging –

I was. I am. No one better than I.

The stunned poets casting up their eyes to

The heaven he says he comes from,

Packing their bags, looking to find less glamour-filled halls.

He knew a thing or two:

Please the crowds and praise the kings.

A bawdy innuendo, a prayer, a vision of glorious death,

And for the quietly watching intellectuals, ambiguity in spades.

A foundling of dubious parentage, brought up by rivers and seas.

A certain affinity to water, like Moses: cool fountains and dowsing

The springs in burning deserts, slaking thirst with words and glory.

How many streams are there? How many rivers?

Following the frightful pillars of smoke, the pillars of flame,

The burning bushes, the falling star.

There is a green land, and a green hill far away,

And the best of the best shall find peace there.

Across the river to the green lands for your sorrows.

A green hill of suffering for all your good works.

You shall become forever now, a constellation

Of the revolving fortress of glorious night.

I, not I, the river that is your awen,

The best, displayed in shining light,

A rainbow promise.

A slight and glorious

compensation

for past and future horror.

This is the second poem that was written with Llanwrtyd Eisteddfod in mind. Not one of the finals I chose to submit: too long a rant and not so obviously following the theme, though it continues and develops some of the threads found in the other seven parts.

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THE COMPETITION

(1. Prophecy of Fire)

I, not I, cannot lean against this luscious, deadly heat.

We are not roses, to drop our heads, to scatter petals,

To grow again as rain again splashes the dusty leaves.

Our grief all adds up, all weighs down.

These winds, these fires, these bitter, clever bombs, we cannot fight.

There are no winners, just braggers who will fall as well, soon enough,

Choked on the unguent of their profit, the poisons they excused.

Our shades shall not even cool us,

not as the forest shade does at Crychan, at Cwm Henog.

There shall be no violets in that twilight we surrender to at last.

There shall be no streams of delight, no wells of peace.

No tumbling nant at Nant yr Onnen nor crouching Ceirios.

The mists at Cwm Dyfnant:

they will be a smouldering of bracken and barbed wire.

Shadows, shadows.

A weather of shadows. A cloud of shame,

Claws of rock clambering from sunless cleft to cheer the last demise,

The victory of heat and blood,

The will to win, whatever.

The old, the ever, the same.

The truth of prophecy, the dregs, the well-worn path.

There shall be no competition then.

No mastery. No tenderness.

No tongue to sing the rhythms of praise, (the eloquent lies),

not to man, not to God, not to the primroses, not to the speckled thrush.

There shall be no golden chair on the hillside, then.

No crown. No applause.

No reply when the question is asked.

No one left to call for peace.

The sword unsheathed, the petals falling, the kites spiralling,

The fields bare and thistle-browed.

In the end, we shall see that there was nothing,

After all, to chase after, nothing to win.

The great blue skies,

piercing blue once more, over all,

And the cuckoos returned to Garn Wen,

the curlews to Cefn Gast.

This was one of my entries for this year’s Llanwrtyd Eisteddfod. In the end I submitted two poems from a series of seven on the same title. I shall be posting them all here soon enough.

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SCENT OF SALT DECAY (war song)

Wave on wave.

How can anything

Stand against

This world of change?

The cliffs shake,

The moments judder.

It will all be overthrown.

It will all find surcease.

The movement will not stop.

The movement in the heavens.

The whispering rush of undertow,

The pouring sands into the depths.

What is set in motion

Will roll ever on.

We shall move from despair

Into empty lands

Yet not escape the roar of it.

They clamour and tumble

Towards the heights

And fall back broken.

Hollow caves are their hearts

Beating cold wrack and ruin.

The scent of salt decay.

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YOUR JOY

It is the time of year when dreaming bleeds into daylight.

All the roads turn green and make their way back home.

The thrush is singing loudly in the budding ash tree.

The nature of art is to tell truth through lies:

This smudge is not a butterfly,

This hill, you cannot climb,

This moment is long gone.

Crows and cuckoos, the bleat of lambs,

Sunlit grass and the dark uplands.

We war to keep things safe, to keep things the same.

Not even one day will survive into the next.

All the gods are here, waiting for your joy.

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SEEDS

The seeds of sorrow

and joy

Are always present.

.

Take a little time

To cultivate

The seeds

of joy.

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IN ABERGWESYN COMMONS

There the world shall open out,

Open out beyond the senses.

A wide valley shout with clouds,

A bonny plaid of river grasses,

A brow of grey tumbled crags

And the ravens and kites wheeling there.

The road rides the waves of miles,

Pushed upwards, lean and full of longing.

Free of voices, free from thought,

As if it were a better world

Unsullied, shaped by simple life

And simple death.

Praised by its mist of rain.

Blessed in its silence.

I have told you the road.

And you found it so.

Open-hearted, washed, released

In Abergwesyn.

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SNOWON THE MOUNTAIN

Snow on the mountain.

When will fools be silent?

When will the wise speak out?

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Snow on the mountain.

Raucous sparrows

Wake a fragile sun.

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Snow on the mountain.

An empty train crosses the valley,

Keeping its promises.

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Snow on the mountain.

Cold wind knocks on every door

Seeking shelter.

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Snow on the mountain.

Murmuring flocks

Sheltering the newborn.

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Snow on the mountain.

The broken tree

Still with new shoots.

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Snow on the mountain.

The coal-house latch

Burns cold.

.

Snow on the mountain.

It is always the clever ones

That save us, then destroy us.

.

Snow on the mountain.

Blackthorn in the valley.

War is never far enough away.

.

This piece consciously echoes an Early Medieval Welsh poem that begins each stanza with the same line. It also has a flavour of a haiku sequence. It was written in early Spring this year.

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WILD HUNT

I am lost

So I am yours, Gwyn.

Driven mad, worn thin,

By the fickle certainties of man,

The lies of the blood

In the lees of trust.

To slip and wriggle

Into cracks and crevices,

To numb as many seconds

As we may.

Kneel down in the soil

And weep.

You are clay that knows death

And have learnt a mechanical time

So as to watch its coming.

The whispered “This is how it is”.

That is a lie weighed down

By the phantasms of others’ dreams,

Souls worn wan draped in dust.

If we are not reborn

Then where does this yearning come from?

If we are not reborn

Why does music bring so many tears?

If we are not reborn

Whence the joy, whence the sorrow?

If we are not reborn

How do our desires arise?

Whence our dissatisfactions?

If we are not reborn

What purpose does hiraeth serve?

What purpose the stirring of the blood?

The bones of trees

I turn to small hopes.

Collect your souls, Gwyn.

Scatter them into a new Spring.

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