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Posts Tagged ‘myth’

RAVEN IS POET

1

I have built my nest in the billowing cloud.

My phurba beak subdues the demons of hunger and despair.

This bright eye measures the generations of worms

And the oracles of shattered bone.

I ride the cracks between worlds on the wind of stars.

Does not my voice peel back all illusion?

What wealth is there here but the wealth of memory?

And I am not unfeeling.

I remember all their names, all their reasons.

Their genealogies are the forests of my delight.

A gathering at suppertime where I cloak the unseeing

In a sheen of knives.

My philosophy, you see, is alchemical, pure and simple.

I shall eat all suns, steal all warmth, reveal all truth that is lie.

There is no sin except satiety.

No song that is not beautiful.

No poet that does not dissect the foolishness of the world

And feed off it.

A long-shadowed cross, I am nailed as a sacrifice and a hero.

Fast, my deep is deeper than all skies.

My deep is the deep within.

Navigator of the impossible, I have the voice of icebergs,

The gravel of continental subduction.

I am generous with praise:

I will laugh joyous at the capers of poets and the drunkenness of heroes.

I wheel and turn patient as the stars,

Wait for the sickle moon to bring it all down to food.

The eloquence of continuance.

The continuance of dreaming.

Consume and consummation, it is all one to a raven poet.

Laughter is the weapon of last resort.

2

Snow on the mountain.

Hazels flower in the valley.

Still no signs of any wisdom.

Snow on the mountain.

Silence after the last battle.

The world again

Shall fill with birdsong.

3

Spin in gorse-bright light.

Dance of black cloak, black knives.

Exultant raven warriors.

4

I am Dark Mountain.

My wife is Midnight.

My daughters are Hunger Sated and Sleek Breast.

My sons are Piercing Hunger and Arrow Straight.

We are descendants of Snow on the Mountain

And Utter Darkness.

The Well of Memory and The Blasted Tree

Are our dwelling places.

Soot Black

Ocean Depth

Bright Brow

Radiant Ash Tree

Thief of Knowledge.

Turner of the Wheel

Season’s End

Hunger Abates.

Wind and waters name us thus.

Mountains name us,

The vast sky names us thus.

5

At the end of the universe ( or at its beginning)

There sits a raven-headed god on a stone throne.

I have seen it. It is so.

He has one eye that sees all things.

He has three eyes for the past, present and future.

He has four eyes that roam in every direction.

He has five eyes that glimmer in the dark and see all things.

He it is who makes the eggshell curve of the sky,

The white light of day. I have seen it. It is so.

When the sky was broken open and the earth fell out

That is when the ravens were born – in the space between.

6

From the bird god’s breath there comes a warm wind.

Let it blow the seeds of destruction away.

Let it extinguish the embers of hate.

May the needful dead fall ripe to our praying beaks.

A thousand ages is his out-breath.

A thousand ages he will breathe it all in again.

Sky and land and the holy air

Will wrap in silence about his dreaming.

We shall be named one by one

And nested in the cliffs of his gaze.

7

There is sufficient death.

We have no need

For the glut of war.

Our falling, floating dance

Inscribes the air.

We tumble towards

Our altar, earth.

We rise to sun,

World-filled cries.

This dance we dance

Is for the dance

Of life and death,

For the bird-headed god

At the end and beginning of all things.

For the drink of it.

For the breath of it.

For the bliss of it.

Raven poet I am.

This is the truth.

This is how it is.

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MOON DISC WORDS

Winter moon

Burns cold,

Burns deep.

.

Afagddu

Gwionbach.

Sun and moon.

This cauldron earth.

.

Winter moon

Looking down.

How many waters?

How many streams?

.

Winter moon.

Keeper of souls.

Cool breath of words.

.

Winter moon.

Cauldron warmed

By breath of nine

Maidens.

.

Winter moon.

Cauldron bubbling.

Road of souls.

.

Winter moon.

The gatekeeper asks:

What is your name?

.

Winter moon.

Born with no mother,

No father.

Bright browed.

.

Winter moon.

Taliesin.

Eloquent silence.

.

Winter moon.

No stunned poet.

Radiance of starlight.

.

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WARRIOR PRAYER

Oh Moon-Face. Your unguent drips from my fingertips.

Shades of dead universes flit across the dark sky.

We long for this as much as we long for otherness.

Moon-Face, we construct the spells that feed you,

So sleek and willow-limbed.

This is how we made you:

A womb to hold all the weeping dead.

Born again as owls, as worms, as dreams in blooming girls.

In flowers pushed up through sacred, spiced earth.

Poured out with the salmon spawn and the eggs of serpents.

Split open and oozed in the nests of eagles,

Drying in the daylight, voiceless and crying.

The taste I remember – iron and oceans,

And the slip slop of long tides

And the waking shape of salt.

The taste of footprints and warm belly

And secret clefts and caves of echoes.

The taste I remember of the sharp bright edge,

Honed bright and sunlight, severed

By its arcing swing.

Oh Moon-Face. You eat the seconds so.

You eat the minutes and the moments.

Bound, wired and woven to the haft of sound.

The blade that cuts through space.

The light so soft, it can eat life and death

And never be fuller than it is, than it is.

Moon-Face. Keep your promise

And we shall die again, happy.

We will not forget your sweet hunger.

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MOTIF – FIRST BRANCH

There is the sound of it:

The distant clip-clop of blossoming time,

A dream whisper, a faint scent,

A breeze, a wish.

.

Still we have not learned much

And rush to question

And rush to hold.

In full armour,

Pierced, weighed down,

Heart-broken.

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A lot of my writing this year has been towards an art/word project inspired by The Black Book of Carmarthen, a small, handwritten manuscript containing poems collected over a lifetime by one person. It is the oldest known manuscript written in the Welsh language. A mixture of ancient bardic poems and prayers, it is at once mundane and transcendent, simple and utterly baffling. The words that come to me are either reflecting some of the imagery or subjects of the fifty odd pieces, or dwell on the nature of the author and the continuity of language and writing. The art works I am making mainly combine parts of the manuscript pages overlain with my own woodblock prints from decades ago. There will, probably, be a book that combines text with image. It is in no way a translation of the original text. It is one artist’s reflections of the magical mirror and timelessness of ancient books.

MER KERTEV KEIN (Black Book)

(The marrow of fine songs)

It is a river

Uncurling in caves,

A white torrent on dark slick rocks.

It is a shoreline cave where mystery is born by echoes,

Far from comfort, where opposites couple in the roaring of it.

Spanning centuries each word tumbles combining elements.

Shadow worlds are dressed in time to shatter and rebuild the fragments.

Oh, speckle-breasted thrush,

Thrice the song to sing.

Morning rain.

Rain of morning.

Dawn storm.

Eternal song.

A river where meaning slips like fishes,

A flash, a flank, and gone.

The next ripple, the next wave, the scintillating light.

Umbral echoes.

It dances from sound to sound.

A juggler slipping from stone to stone

In the midstream rush. Where next? Where next?

And the foaming roar of it:

The world dancing elements and prophecy

And the arc of words cast up and caught, too fast for the eye.

A stream, a stream, of passion itself.

Sound clothed in the names of things,

The naked, naked sound.

A river of God’s being,

A bowstring caught and released,

The mouth’s harp

And its breath drum rhythm song.

There are spirits here

There are ghosts

Where I see these landscapes,

Familiar, sunlit, wild

I have never been.

I am haunted by the names

And by the meanings

Within the meanings I know.

Other pages in other hands:

Mirrored, pushing through.

I am become a palimpsest of prayer-

The angels with clawed feet

Offering golden torcs.

A language of waves,

Of echoing empty hills.

My eyes water the seeds of words,

Grow vast forests.

The dance of sounds:

Lost timeless for a while,

We dance and dance.

The memories are not ours

That lodge in our hearts.

My soul fragments to the four quarters

As though I am already buried.

There is a cold wind from the north.

A woman who is not a woman

Moves at the edges of my sight

Whispering rhymes with berry-stained fingertips.

One of Three and Three in One.

Before Eden we quake.

The Tower was too high,

The Tree was too bright.

The Flaming Sword

That drove us outwards

We stole for shovels and mattocks.

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GOLDEN MERIDIAN

“Here at the centre of things.”

(There at the centre of things),

“We see everything and hear everything.

How the chorus of dawn is continuous,

How the shadow, like a wave,

Retreats from the light around the world’s edge.

How the light, like a wave, retreats

From the shadow and silence of night

With owls and thunder.”

There is one here,

( there is one there),

Dressed in liquid gold

Like a summer river,

Like a wood filled with birdsong.

He says:

“If you wish to be more

Than you are now,

You must learn to suspend your knowing.”

He says:

“Your in breath is the outbreath of another.

Your outbreath is the inbreath of another.

She says:

“Look. Listen.

The birds of dawn

Forever singing.”

She says:

“Look. Listen.

The eternal stars

Forever resting

In cool midnight silence.”

He says:

“Beginnings and endings are words.

Life and death are words.

To travel beyond words

Is a road few follow.

All those here are dancers.

Movement comes before sound.”

She says:

“There are no questions

That cannot be answered

With more questions.”

He says:

“Eternal sunrise.

Eternal twilight.

We admit those

Who have forgotten their names,

Only.

What is your name?”

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BLESSINGS OF THE MOON

What are the blessings of the moon?

Return, return.

What is worn away,

What is consumed,

What is lost.

Returned, returned.

No diminishing of light.

No perturbation of path.

Return, return.

Is the blessing of the moon.

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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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TALIESIN FRACTALS

1

Nyt o vam a that pan y’m digonat

Not from a mother or a father was I made

The druids know all things are born

From desire and a fear of extinction.

Here I am, beginningless, not born but made,

Unless before the world and before the beginning of the world.

A’m creu a’m creat o naw rith llafanat

And my creation was made for me from nine forms of consistency

I was waiting to be clothed, sound to word,

Word to meaning, meaning to understanding,

Understanding to knowledge, knowledge to wisdom,

Wisdom to poetry, poetry to creation of worlds,

Creation of worlds to fear and desire.

How many souls does the one created consist of?

What animates the articulations of a creature?

O ffrwydd, o ffrwytheu, o ffrwyth Duw dechreu

From a fruit, from fruits, from the fruit of God in the beginning.

Not the seed, not the tree, not the beginning,

Begun from the ripened, time-ripened exudate of the creator.

Not from one, but from many,

Not after but at the start of the beginning.

From the tree of God, from God’s fruit,

From the Garden of Eden was I made.

From the vegetal elements of the world, before the world.

Made by God and by enchanters –

Enchanters chanting sounds, chanting word,

Giving fruit its form, giving God a voice.

2

What he says:

I am not a human.

I was given form with plants,

From fruit, from fruits, from God’s first fruit

(And what was that?).

Made from the elements of the natural world,

From plants, from soil, from water.

I was, yet I continued to be shaped

Or given form, or recreated:

From God’s fruit, from the soil,

Water and plants.

From Math, from Gwydion,

Reared by Eurwys, by Euron,

By Modron, by Math, by Gwydion,

These five enchanters.

Made from within a desert, a fire, a conflagration,

Made before the world was finished.

Brewed, even. The plants collected, the elements combined

With water, the fire of the pot, the fermentation,

Becoming the same but changed.

I fall from the first tree, a fruit of God, ripe and ready.

I melt into earth, become plants, become blossoms, become trees.

All mulched, all matter there is, rotted, fermented, made from that.

And is this ‘I’ one or many?

Singular or compound?

Changed before completion

By enchantments of the five.

Before the world in what should have been,

When there was nothing but fire.

Sacred from the cauldron heated,

Stirred in, changed by fire,

Reared by enchanters,

Made new and new and new again.

Rising from the sullen earth golden-topped,

Golden-browed, filled with voices,

Filled with light.

From the houses of earth, I, We,

Arise. We, Taliesin, a fun guy.

Some. Soma. Filled with exhilaration,

Full, frothing, leaping, loud.

The words come from the deep.

From the dripping dark the waters speak.

As clear as thunder, they will echo

Until they find meaning in minds ablaze.

It is a million voices fractured and combined,

Playing in the light, dreaming in purple night.

The wonders are named and renamed,

Calibrated in wandering souls to measure their worth,

Their awakeness, their clarity.

Dressed in monstrous words

Are the names of being and non-being.

The mediocre can never live forever

Except as soil and falling petals.

3

I, the poet

Who is and is not

And also outside the world

Inhabiting all worlds.

Word warring, slicing meanings.

My spear and shield awen,

My crow awen, my cauldron awen.

From God and also

From the enchanters before creation was.

These words are all lies and all perfect.

They are here to shepherd you

Towards a delightful oblivion,

Towards fire and water and the one tree.

The most holy fruit, the fermented fall

Of exultation beyond meaning.

4

Clarity from confusion.

Not jumping to conclusions.

Floating on the thermals of meaning.

The paths that lead nowhere

Lead everywhere.

And the unexpected provides answers.

Turn away from the problem to find the solution.

The deep world beneath the world:

Everything the same, but shining.

The power of seeing patterns

And of remembering the stories that are used

To make excuses to do the same as before.

5

These bright words:

A skitter rhythmic ricochet

Scattering meanings across centuries.

No weir, no tickle or hook,

No line or net will keep them held for long.

Proud words, free words, unimprisoned,

Validated in memories

Springing out of rushing waters, upstream, upstream,

To seed in still minds,

To become vast again

In distant worlds.

6

Yesterday I was sure of its meaning.

Today I am not certain.

Tomorrow I shall start again

following other threads, other roots

down into the dark soil.

The seeds unfurl though they still

see no light. They taste

many futures and that is enough.

Allowing the breeze to bring its news,

breathing softly, trying

not to possess an outcome.

The wind lifts the smoke upwards,

the edges of the day retreat.

It is in silence the song can be heard.

It builds and dissipates

as clouds do at sunset.

Whole kingdoms dissolve.

Endless blue, then one,

then another star.

7

This world is clothed in words.

Shaped by enchanter’s song.

Brought to being and non-being by utterance.

Silence does not dispel it.

There are always echoes,

Always fading recollections

Into the next world.

8

Whose voice is this, whose words,

Yours or mine, and who is this I?

That is, and was, and will be?

The wind bends down the trees:

They kneel, they sigh, they dance,

They moan seeking shelter in song.

They can do little else when moved.

Where do the winds arise?

From beyond what horizons?

A word was spoken- the first word –

A little breath, and it has been uttered ever since.

The wind growing stormy – no birds are in the sky.

This powerful song has driven away all other thought.

You kneel and bend and sigh,

What else can you do?

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THESE MAPS, THESE ROADS

These maps, these roads, written and rewritten word on word.

Size and distance, though, these are not to be measured.

The roads and maps are real but travelled, somehow,

By ships that fly, by pigs that speak, by horses

That move and yet not move.

The shape of words – that is the key

To all that is and is not.

The holy lines that sum up all dimensions,

That lie so perfectly,

That birth sound out of silence and void.

Chase the edge of one thing, the infinite borders,

The central compass points.

Trace with keen fingertips the way they merge and separate.

The same pattern is in the whorls of your hand and always has been.

The world is measured by its forgetfulness.

The eternal is uncovered by those with perfected memory.

No words left orphaned, no thought muddied or misplaced.

A perfect fractal prison of a million voices,

Laying down the roads and all the maps.

Remembering, remembering, it is all remembering.

Beyond the gods and monsters

There is a perturbation of light and shadow.

Beyond light and shadow, a flickering notion of this and that.

Beyond this and that, a line of movement and a point of stillness.

A certain chain of gravity, (that is love and jealousy),

And a flow of iron-grey chains.

The roads, the winds of space, move along,

The paths of gods and worlds dreaming,

Dreaming they have time and space and something,

Something else, a name, a reason, a future, a history.

A certain trajectory, a ricochet away into story.

New words, same roads, same houses, new owners,

Same walls, same ghosts, same roads, new roads,

New names.

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