Posts Tagged ‘Llanwrtyd’

CONFLICT (The Old Fight)

The green grasses heaped and peaceful,
as they always are,
Steeped and shaped by nibbling sheep,
bowing, pausing, moving on
Like writers, like painters, considering the sound,
Chewing over the bitter and the sweet,
The limp sorrow, the tight-wound grief,
The bound and binding pain not forgot:
Not forgot though buried deep in heaps across the hills.

The buzzard cries and red kite wheels for the recklessness of princes.
Ancient trees so uprooted, excised, their long shadows lost
And peasant weeds happy for short moments in sunlight once more,
Before the whining scythe of war steals life and land
That cannot ever be owned.

This sorry foreign tongue wanders uncertain paths
Around lost sound and buried names.
Those gone before now hood their eyes to listen by the warm hearth of God.
I await, as always, their sure narration, its flow and lilt as if my own:
A habit of work and weather, of sewing in twilight,
In beer that eases ache of long labour
And puts by for a while the winds of winter
And the haunt-eyed want that loiters,
Hanging its dark shade by every byre and door.

I know where I myself would be
To soothe and polish the grain-edged slate of sorrow.
Down with the world’s roar at Pwll Bo,
Its throat of rock slaked and scoured.
I would be rain-cooled, too, in the smoke cloud of Cwm Dwfnant,
Forever under the big hills staring bare into God’s blank blue face.

I would crouch, nostrils spiced with fern and fir
And the damp drip from the birch, itself turning silver and gold
From each and every early frost.
Below where the hidden boys are ever hunting their courage,
Learning to kill for bitter whim of distant government,
Watched by raven eye and silent nested hare.

All beaten down, we have flocked to the cities to be sold for pennies.
Huddled there believing safety is numbers from the wilds and curves of the world.
All winnings, though, are desolate or requisitioned,
Elbowed out, of course, by the mighty.
Rephrased, remapped, remade,
The hills are worn down by the measuring,
(Though they clutch still their gold, their own cheese and milk,
Their own paths downward to certain golden summer
Where the hounds, red-eared, hunt the dreams of heroes.)

Crouched like God’s old hound, the church of Llangammarch,
Perched on its very own hill, push-toed between streams,
A confluence of dark and light, washed in gravels, the quick dippers and lowing cattle.
There above the porch, cut deep in fragmented stone is carved
The old fight between the four corners of the world and the spiral twist of eternity.

And we look on, tangled in, amazed,
Forever wanting what is neither this nor that.
But listen:
There is no more to fight for
Where we have found our home,
Where we breathe in and out all weathers,
The hills of rolling meaning
And the churchtops of exaltation,
Asleep in sunlit valleys,
Companions with the living and the dead,
A ripened mulch,
A song worth singing.

Forgive the reposting, for some reason some of the like and share buttons did not show on the original post, and I don’t believe it reached many people. I hope this one works….


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PWLL Y BO (continued)


There are streams and there are pools,
Gradients of speed, time and temperature,
A swelling and a cascade of moments.
Phenomena to clothe attention,
Voids to place memories within.

The paths of scent and heartbeat
Wander through landscapes,
Unseen but persistent:
They mould the seasons of emotion,
The tides of joy and despair
We think we seem to own.

How came the spirit to Pwll y Bo?
Born was it from scoured stone,
Water tongues speaking water language?
Inchoate become cadent rhythm,
Song become meaning become message,
Whispers mirrored, hollows filled.
There before, or only after, the wept
And lost wondering?

There is a quicksilver veil,
A something shimmer that,
Once touched, ripples forever.

So restless a wanderer,
The dew of his holiness on every meadow,
Churches sprang up in Dewi’s footprints.

This dream so unlike that dream,
Remembered backwards, becoming familiar:
His prayers, her tears, wellsprings,
Mouths of howling and hymns, stones with mouths.

Just so and more
The glow of set suns on warm earth,
A day begun and gone,
A day to come through long night.

We become our own pool, haunted,
Becoming vague, portenteous,
Oracular as thunderstorms.

Flowered feet, rooted stillness,
A mouth full of blossom.
His feet, our feet,
Her tears, our tears.
Owls in the valley,
Blackbirds amid cloud mists.

As every river knows,
We are not what we seem to be,
Not so steady, not so constant.
A permiable impermanence,
A vessel unable to choose its content.

To taste, shape and let go,
A flow of song, a chorus,
Cascades of little moments,
But enough to shape mountains,
Enough to flood oceans,
A silver rippled pool dissolving time and space,
A breathing landscape generating names.

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Pwll y Bo, “Pool of the wraith”, is a wooded, rocky cascade of the River Irfon on the road up the Abergwesyn valley, a few miles from where I live. Downstream, stranded now in silence, but once the heart of Llanwrtyd, the old church site of St. David’s on a small spur of hillside around which the ascending road curls. Saint and spirit, a confluence of notions.



Mountain air threads mist in valley sleep.
We dreamless lie, cherishing weight.
Up at Pwyll Bo, I suppose, the lean, green larches
Will stand roaring down the dawn winds.
The oaks, staid grey and still on their slanted hill.
The otter shall sink and roll, melting to water.
Mossed rock wet, endless white the tumble.
Ever hollow spans the spirit’s song, a haunted bridge.

The winding path to delight is to be walked not run.
Time given to sliding slow eyes, side on side,
To stop and to forget.
This breath the church of all gods,
The heart’s Holy Ghost light woven.
Time enough for long blue days
And the dead slowly revolving
On the hillside church
Wriggling back to earth and seed.
Their heads now risen green, unfurled,
A dappled Trump each last and every day.

Unknown things travelling down
Are woven, whirled and worded.
Skein thin spirit clothed and given sight.
A voice, even, from rock and worried water.
Grasped and clothed its essence sings,
The illusory cling of names forgot,
The savoured winding sheet of waves
And pillowed, folded rocks.
It says, it says:
The confluence of all rivers is the ocean.
The confluence of all words is the heart.

Shall it cleave to the warmth of sunlight,
Wood avens and violets on the bank?
Or shall it bend into moonlight,
Emptying all in cool rest, the starlit air?
Or long longing, wait for drifting careless breath
Warm bodies dabbled, absent stares,
To speak heard and unheard,
Noticed yet unrecognised?


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