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Posts Tagged ‘Mabinogion’

SCRIPT

The politics of throwing babies into the blazing hearth.

The myth must rise above all choices of good and evil.

Joy and suffering are characters that come and go,

They have their own scripts.

And no matter how erudite we believe we are,

No matter how much better.

The cycles of myth will do away

With our little stories of greatness,

The prattle of improvement,

Our enfeebled longevity,

Our chaotic randomised knowledge

Of nothing in particular.

In the end we justify conflict

Or run in madness to the wilderness,

Feathered in terror and forgetting.

(There is a myth for that one too).

The pocket watch has free will –

It can stop or go.

But once the spring is tight,

Each cog must do what it has been assigned.

And what truth anyway is greater

Than slowing the passage of time

And the moment that time stops?

The dance begins, the dance ends.

In eternal halls the dance is never tiresome.

Memory, to the gods, is an irrelevance.

‘But there must be more!’

Is also a line woven into the myths,

A function of the equation.

Descartes horribly right,

But still missing the point.

Act, because you must, O Arjuna.

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THE TALIESIN SHADOWS

1

He comes forth by words,

out of darkness and brightness

(we, watching, blinded by both).

.

Out from blood, out from skulls,

out from the groves and the mist.

.

They tumble, birds from nets,

these wild words seeking skies.

.

The scent of oak and moss,

the scent of rust and iron blood.

.

A thousand years,

and still no-one has fathomed its depths.

.

The evening sky swept clear of life and death,

autumn clear with the tooth cold edge to it.

.

He has learnt to weave the shadows.

Mystery is his cloak, a feathered cloak of wings,

wings of words.

.

The meat of the past, the blood and muscle

of all forebears held in rhythm and sound.

.

They have perfected their own shadow,

full of mystery and silent horror.

.

Persistent dreaming encourages a certain familiarity

with dear monsters. “My awen is an ash spear”.

.

We talk to the spirits of the dead,

recounting their stories, reviving their memories,

reincarnating the spirit.

.

I will sing and sing and sing your words.

Your voice feeds my nerves

and I become, first, between, then other, then empty,

and you can walk in.

.

My shadow

becomes your shadow,

your words,

my words.

.

2

I open my mouth.

There is silence.

But now the wind

From the graves

Forms sound, the vowels,

The rivers of sound from the caves of wisdom,

From the mounds of remembrance.

.

I will not sing to the lords, to the rich kings.

I sing to the free, who lack good weather,

Who seek rain in drought, seek sun in storm.

.

The space of song.

They listen and travel through these words

To become closer to the divine.

This is my space. The protective weaving of poets’ words.

Enwrapped, entranced, protected within the poet’s rhythm.

3

Cauldron

This cauldron: iron hard consonants

Wrapped round and shaped by the curve of vowel.

What will it not encompass?

What shall never be encompassed by it?

.

Awen is greater than this cauldron’s expanse,

Awen is deeper than its deep resounding belly.

Powerful is the echo of that fortress of truth,

Yet an echo in the hills of distant thunder is what it is.

The ocean roar of awen in the cursive chambers of shell and bone:

A whisper of voices, millions, there are millions, from the deep before.

.

Deep as this cauldron is, and as ancient as its gigantic creators,

It cannot contain the horizons of Annwfn.

One part is understood and named,

Four-fifths remain eternally hidden.

A clear light blinds by its brightness

And the shadows deepen wherever it shines.

It cannot be named by names, it cannot be sung by songs,

It cannot be understood by philosophy,

It cannot be measured by maps.

Look up, look down, at the revolving stars:

It is there and not there.

Stir the bubbling verses in the honey cauldron:

It is there and not there.

In the breath and in the void

It escapes the understanding as the sun at sunset,

As the cuckoo in winter,

As the wren in the hedgerow.

There and not there,

A diminishing cry

Stirring the mind of poets.

.

He grows from his words – the seeds of sound

On the soil of listening silence.

Embodied, he is mystic light, a tricky one, iron hard steel.

An evolution of the world’s voice found in the dark tombs,

A clothing of golden brocade for liquid tongues.

They whisper in circles in their root-wrapped rooms.

The transcendence of death by the sages, by the brave,

By the wise, by the heroes who pass between, who pass on.

I have placed the words of the past in my body.

Golden, they rise up when my tongue bids it.

The mead flows, we drink and are drunk upon it.

.

The deep speaks, and it stirs the deeper still.

We are echoes and can trawl

The life beneath the single

Small light of the soul.

This voice overtones infrasound.

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ARCHETYPAL

The hunter father transgresses;

The mother suffers unjustly;

The child is taken.

What was wonderful, vanishes.

The light disappears, no one knows where.

Roads, veils and mirrors –

The mechanics of universal dance,

The momentous, minuscule choice.

The bright, eternal child brought low,

Brought back to the wrist of the falconer,

Brought back to rule in glory,

Brought back to catch the uncatchable.

And all the time

It is she that saves the day,

Who bestows and restores balance,

Who names, who summons, who moves

Like a moon through darkness

Sorrowful and joyful and blissfully full.

And the child, neither here nor there,

Neither this nor that,

Tricked by innocence

To reveal the weakness,

To discover an impossible death,

To wait endlessly in the wings

For the lines of the last act,

The resolution.

I ask to know the truth

So that there may be understanding of power.

That the maps are unfolded

And the well-trod, invisible roads revealed.

Because we are free only to follow the well-worn ways,

Because there is only one plot and one story

From the beginning.

Because, tried and tested are the grey chains.

Because, tried and tested is the only freedom.

The rules of falling, and of redemption.

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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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FAINT BREEZES

Faint eternal breezes between stars

Where the gods have walked.

.

The door-hinge between worlds screams

And time is changed. Your names are of no value here,

Nor your skills.

.

Your future has been stolen

Because the past was not understood.

.

All roads dissolve at the misty edges.

This forest is your accuser.

This forest is your river.

.

The dance between two and three,

The vanishing one eclipsed.

Umbra, penumbra, chorus, echo.

.

The table of utter silence.

The taste of grey iron chain,

Grey as morning, neither this nor that.

.

Four stories long the seamstress works,

Head bowed in patterns, the needles

Darting in and out.

.

Blake and Burne-Jones naked on the shore,

Collecting the teeth of dragons,

Barefoot in embers and sea wrack.

.

The sky boat reflected in the moving waters,

The stallions hobbled, too wild, even, for war.

.

It is the gentle who are moulded

For vengeance and bleak reply.

.

And still the future is mute but growing.

It will be bright with accident,

Possessed with skills of no use whatsoever –

The arts of distraction and decay,

The sowing of grief and duty.

.

Do not look for any meaning in the words ( they say)

The key is not the door.

There is no lie in winter.

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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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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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LOST 1

My white winged soul is over the sea,

Low over the silver waters,

Far from sight, for duty

And the hope of peace.

Gone from this world,

Gone from the next,

Spiralling down to earth

To scour the debris of other’s joy.

There is some small joy in loss,

But not this loss.

Settled and content were we,

As rocks on a sun-warmed hillside

( the popping of gorse, the dust of heather,

the impermanent river of skylarks).

Settled and content, rippled in sheltered shade

(the hum of bees, the dance of gnats).

But each change brings irrevocable change.

Worlds end at every whim,

The ruins dreaming in emptied desolation.

Time, a syncopated stutter

To relive or forget in themes.

The moment before death –

An unravelling of strategy and excuses.

Something pure there, something silent,

Something wrapped beneath the pain and sorrow,

Something unutterably sweet, something eternal flickers

Before the moment and the light dies.

Before the terrible glorious cauldron darkness,

The seething dice thrown before dawn

Where we have lost our voices

And must learn to sing again,

Sound by sound.

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LLEU’S FLOWERS

These days, though I hardly close my eyes,
the dreaming words of my mouth
are the sea all things seem to float upon.
Time shifts and slows but moves as winds and rivers
over the fog-washed mountains and away.
Slim chance of anything better
than a cool oblivion in green woodland.
Little hope of acceptance for all
when our leaders glance sideways, checking exits
and their scripted equivocations.
Little has been learned, war is still the best hope:
a simple reason to wipe it all away.
Avoidance of doing good, we prefer instead outrage,
needing vast and sudden emotion to feel alive.
We were vessels for immortality,
though no longer immortal ourselves,
our minds wedded to mud and angels.
It may be days before the prophecies settle and nest.
Or it may be that this turbulent nonsense will grow and grow
until we do not notice it any more,
becoming content with an artificial intelligence,
considering it an apogee
and not the abject failure of the power of human love.
Who shall sing us down from the rotting tree?
Who bother to search us out and sing us down
to a new and whole body on the green earth?


The mountain’s breath.
Dark rivers hiss, touched by starlight.
Owls are dreaming with eyes wide open.
Small things appear and dissappear.
A spiral silence weaves upon itself.
This oak feeds upon my shattered fragments.
The fire burns low.
The mind of man steps out of sight.
A low tide roars.

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ALL THAT GLORY

All that glory, bred from blood and rot.
Ground bones to feed the noble good.
The Myrddin in us turns away.
Our Taliesin mocks the solicitous bards.
The histories of truth shall never be written.
The honest shall be driven mad
And disappear, unknown, unnamed,
Fuel for the mysteries of the deeps within.
This is the fabled cloth that suffocates us,
Memories rich, embroidered, gold-threaded,
Dreaming of heroes and just cause.

There was one who refused to give reasons,
And won by losing everything.
Who refused to be wise, refused to be violent
Who turned the wheel of matter
To become the spiral of eternity.
A simple seed buried and buried again.
Though cut each time it arises, given names and deeds,
Smothered again, tutored and redacted.

The first, the oldest gods, were not heroes.
They were farmers and dreamers, dexterous handed.
They were mothers and weavers, nursemaids, cooks.
Manawydan, king of Britain, best of cobblers.
He knew the loud ones take the power, write the stories.
He knew the land would grow empty, as always,
Drained by strife and pride, good and bad all cut down.
He kept his eye on the corners of things, on the smallest,
On the fine tendrils of futures, on the goodness
Of quiet satisfactions. There is no precedence
As we drift towards the doors of death.
Only goodness or bitterness will remain.
And the smallest of things, the smallest that sustain the rest,
Will do what they must, unwatched, unnamed, unknown
Woven through ephemeral eternities,
The inevitable victory of the insignificant.

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