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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

O ffrwyth, o ffrwytheu,

O ffrwyth Duw dechreu;

.

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.

.

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.

.

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

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

A’m swynwys-i wledic

Pan vei let loscedic.

.

A ruler fashioned me

When there would have been a burning extent.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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;

.

Yn deu wayw anchwant:

O Nef pan doethant.

.

My two keen spears:

From Heaven did they come.

.

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.

.

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.

.

Ef gwrith, ef datwrith,

Ef gwrith ieithoed.

.

He made, he remade,

He made languages.

.

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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WINTER SONG

Storm words roar from the north.

From oceans of ice the sanity of cold.

.

The pines here bend and shudder.

The birches here shimmer light webs.

The waters here grow thick and silent.

.

Time, its old fire wan, weakens limp.

Nothing can be done, its slow moments congealing.

Nothing can be saved, the precious mirrors tint and spall.

.

There is no way out, no way in.

The roads all spattered, batter edged.

Small beasts bear the burden hearts or give them up to rest.

Small beasts melt into the shrines of singing stars.

.

The clouds ring loud, the earth an anvil, cold steel hard.

The sun has three days stood still,

It stutters on now, but in new pain.

.

The days of winter are a long entrancing poem.

It has a recitation hypnotic, unyielding.

The wind shouts it, the north wind, the song of winter long.

.

And winter still to take its deep bite on the warm world.

Day by day the dying are heading west,

They trail their names and their memories, river dreaming.

.

What is left are bones and the teeth of night.

Harsh goddesses who lust for flame,

Older stories than the ones we know,

Older by far, in the language of soot and coupling.

A cave-deep heat lit by animal scents.

.

These first roads are etched on our palms,

Red, in the alignments of circumference.

From here, the silver rivers;

From here, the stones that sing;

From here, the roots reach downwards;

From here, the seeds are gathering together.

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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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THEY ARE BEYOND

They are beyond reach, beyond the wall,

Beyond the chattering sparrows in the cool mist morning.

.

The hill mutes its gold and silver.

In the valley, old men farm regret.

.

It is beyond, but hinted, by the soft fall of rain,

By the slow southern breeze,

By the pale light and waiting.

.

It is curled about the sleeping cat,

It’s breath a whisper in the room.

It goes out and comes back

Dressed in notions, disguised in feelings.

.

It is inherent, yet escapes from

These eternal passing moments.

It becomes a word, moves air, shifts the sight,

Then disappears.

.

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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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AN ARTIST DIES

There will be one this morning

who walks out on the hill untroubled

by the mist and the rain.

Watching with a new eye the bright lichen

on the slick rock, the bobbing wagtail

by the water’s edge.

.

Who will wonder only a little

At the acheless knees, the easy breath,

as he climbs the high ridge out of the oaks.

.

Who will never forget the beauty, nor the love,

but who is still drawn on by a certain brightness,

Like something long forgotten now returning.

.

There is a distant sea of weeping and emptiness,

A yearning somewhere far off beyond the day’s glint,

somewhere where everything is still the same,

though somehow veiled and trammelled.

.

And he shall walk among his sheep

without them lifting their heads, even.

And his dogs will wag their tails,

then look around bemused;

and the cat will stare and stare,

blinking once so very, very slowly.

.

And what was unfinished there

in the studio,

now seems utterly complete,

even so.

Good enough to leave untouched,

good enough to say what needs to be said.

The careful line, the hint of colours:

there is no end to this work.

A brand new sketchbook,

open and white,

is waiting.

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A PERPETUAL DREAMING

.

far away, among the mountains

that uphold the sky,

.

there are those

who forever walk on tiptoe

.

and only whisper,

so as not to wake

.

the sleeping god

that dreams the universe is real.

.

the lullaby of cascading rivers,

the jade clear ice fields,

.

the resounding sapphire sky

with silent wheeling eagles

.

and murmuring chant

from the womb dark temples

.

to keep that sleeper wrapped

in the folds of wonder.

.

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ORACULAR MESSAGE

In the woods, in the green wet woods

The dead are waiting with their songs.

.

They have longed for their flesh and they have forgotten.

The rivers are full of their passions.

It is a cold steel desire, a lust like winter.

.

It is gone now, subsided into multiplicity,

The tracks lost, the flash of prey in the bushes,

All become unintelligible like a valley dissolves in driving rain.

.

But the dead are waiting there with their slim fingers

To crack open your sight, to break open your eyes

The release the hawk of your mind, the hungry raven of your heart,

The river of your reason.

.

This is for you, a prophecy for you

Because you have read these lines,

Because of the intersections of the stars,

Because you are nothing but this,

About to be forgotten, about to be lost.

.

The dead are waiting in the woods, singing and dancing,

Forgetting everything.

.

You have dreamed enough.

You have destroyed enough.

.

They slide between species, have no regard for distinctions.

They breathe the matter ejected from shuddering galaxies into the void.

.

These words are not for you

But you must remember them and pass them on.

They are for the last one who leaves.

Who turns to flick the light switch

And with a small smile steps into darkness.

.

Tell them the dead are waiting in the green mossy woods.

Tell them to listen for the sighing song

For the surprise of pine scent drift singing storm winds.

Tell them to remember the small things,

The notions that eat worlds.

Tell them the dead are waiting

To take them home.

.

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A DANCE UPON Y GARN

The bones of the hills

The bones of rivers

The bones of the mist

The bones of meaning.

How shall we talk to the bones

Of things, the sweet marrow?

That great grey slope,

A rising falling sine wave,

A rumbling note bending horizons.

Converse with it dressed thus in cloud

And become a stranger removed from illusion.

Untied, drifting, anchored only to words

And a dance that is so so slow, it brings worlds to their end

And changes them that new languages are needed

To begin to know it, to begin to know it.

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UPSTREAM

As the tides flow in and out,
the voices, withering and young, flow around.

We ride the oldest of things against the flow,
back up to a source where the stolen thing
is hidden unknown to any, unknown to all.
Forgotten forgotten, unnamed even,
taken before three days seen, even.

All these places are places and more than places,
more than time, more than ciphers, more than mystery.
Follow one thread of meaning and you will, for sure, tangle the cloth,
lose the weave, the weft and pattern.

To hold in your hand such a bright wriggling thing
and stop yourself from any grasping, from holding it steady,
from pressing the life and scintillation from it.
Mud and leaves it will turn to, where now it is dancing gold and laughing.

A pattern pressed into mud: perfect impression.
But breathe too hard, even, and it will smudge and dissolve.
That is how fine our truth is, how the names and places and tales wriggle.
Take one road but do not forget the others.
Take one small thread end and tease it out, like smoke, like water,
like the music of gnats.

Neither too big, nor too small, you must dissolve everything you are
and quietly wait, memorising the names and their genealogies.
How snow falls; how fire and promises are one;
how darkness carries its weight;
how the gods mould themselves and learn new dances;
make promises that will never break –
singing bones and feather dust in dark halls.

As soon as you are sure of something, let it go.
Do not hold on to what is not yours ( and nothing is yours).

To know what is, you must know what is not.
To know what it is not, you must know what it is.
Lose sight of this and you will fall down long centuries wondering why.

As soon as it was named, it became lost.
As soon as it became separate, it was no longer known.
Moon tides swing to the bright prison where the river bends,
the crooked one, the turning wheel, the water road.

Say the words, say the words, until the words grow wings and fly away.
The sound of their whistling pinions will diminish, diminish, diminish,
and now the wind will rise and bear you up into oceanic moonlight.
If you call me by my name, you do not know me.
If you call me by my name, how can I answer?
If you call me by my name, you have learned nothing.

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