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Posts Tagged ‘photographs’

RAINBOW WINGS

When the cloud is not down on the hill

there is no magic.

When everything is so clear,

nothing is seen.

The sound of the river,

what voices does it carry?

How can it be unravelled?

I shall tell you a truth

that is mine alone,

a truth of gold and silver

as pure as dream

and as radiantly unscathed.

A truth of rainbow-sheened wings,

roofing a golden palace,

dispersed by a breath,

by a doubt, by a breeze.

The truth no one believes –

that is the way to touch the Real.

The truth that cannot possibly be true,

that is laughed out of every hall,

that truth is the truth that can change the universe.

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At the Heart of Yew
1
As it were,
Between slow chimes round, sparkling moments spill,
Skitter, bounce, slide
across cold marble.
Nothing remains to hold onto.
This is how it feels, numbed and white with wonder,
A mind subdued, language pared back to root,
A constellation of starlit echoing, free from constraint of pattern.
Absent is the comfort of story.
2
Through animal veins the forest branches roar.
The voice of the earth whispered thunderously.
A clearing storm that will favour no being
Above any other.
3
More fearful than this
infinite, swaddled and senseless dark
Is the single flash of light that illuminates all.
You would not believe it were so,
How everything
becomes its opposite.
4
And the small, small voices
bright as needles, cold as rain in summer,
Melting the defining edge, weighing innocence.
5
No view but the stars,
no voice but the stars
No answer but the stars.
They fall and rise,
ripening red and white,
the bitterness of their light
Will wake the sleeping,
will wake the dead.
6
The bright thin eye of the wren,
the sweet rich tongue of the dunnock.
Squeezed and rolled, the buttress trunk folded upon itself,
Sediments of light and time
extruding green needles into quivered silent air.
Fermentation of dream and myth, a searched-for language
That roots in the atlas, the convolute backbrain,
The sequence of pushing through,
the tangled mass
Holy folds haunting bone.
7
Tumbling towards boundlessness,
dear misconception treasured,
our only possession.
This is not part of the story-
we wanted wings and crowns, sunsets sipping wine,
A simple validation of good and bad,
a certainty on the chain,
a place on the ladder,
Forever forgetting, of course, the wheel that turns,
the hub that crushes, the severing spokes
The wheel of the law.
this tree revolving upwards,
rolling downwards,
waiting in darkness.

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Great Halls of Memory

Such a long time since last visiting The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Completely misremembered its architecture and style. In my mind it was red brick and High Gothic, but no, now, at least, it seems to be Victorian Neoclassicism, all columns, domes and marble cladding. Perhaps there are corridors, rooms, floors, wings in different styles, different times, different memories.
Ascend the staircase,
The head that looks out,
The open dome,
The caverned stone skull.
Nothing else but a memory palace. Slow the heart, slow the eye,
The crowds blur and fade,
Their footsteps to whispers,
Their passing to plumes, dust motes dancing

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.

All that remains, motionless, eternal: the memories, the constructions of memory, the shaping and honing of memory. The forms frozen and holy, the skilful turn of chisel and burin. Dark stairwells, cold. Curved stone scrolls, careful, less inhabited. The images of the dead, a maintenance of expectations,
The mental bones,
The bones of the mind,
The fossil fragments of heart,
Congealment.
Not as it was. Not as it seemed. Mind matter welded to timeless earth. An imposition of perfected memory, fabricated, polished. These we keep. These we cherish. These we honour – the bones of our ancestors, deep in our skull cities.
A record of dancing dust.
A reassessment of forgetting.
Mr Brown would come from afar,
Smiling sweetly ( eyes like jackdaws).
He would know, he would number the portals, the gateways, the porticoes, rearranged by time and place for fond ghosts to find then lose themselves. Hungry ghosts, longing, bored, wandering vestibular chambers.

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Neither are they our memories
Harboured here.
Not ours, but wrenched,
Wedged, removed
From forgotten, desolate ruins.
Passed down by the impecunious,
The vanquished, the uninterested.

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Our own little memories, ghost memories, too, no more sweetly harboured at sunset satisfied. They, wandering, away, pick trinkets in other lands, embellishments. Each time told remembered the last time told, the last time, told. An evolution of maps and stories, a hearsay, an edifice of straw and mud, an edifice of marble, collated by grain and polish, by echo, by echo eroded, by echo reborn.
Nothing but chaff and chatter
That fades at closing time,
The weight of stone time,
An instant frozen.
A pin dropping.

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all the photographs here were taken on my visit. It was not my intention, time and equipment were not sufficient. But I salvaged a few blurry images and worked them a little.it is a place to go to summon strange juxtapositions,reflections,spaces

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DECADENT LINGERIE (dream stream)

Perhaps it was
the early sun,
The night sun,
Or the slim,
low dark moon.

But the halls
and chambers within,
The tales
and stuttered songs,
Were filled with dark
And strange, literate beings.

Wild, bohemian,
relics and collectors
Of the mythic
and the mundane.
A dream full
of forbidden rooms,
Reckless draperies,
swathed velvets,
Lascivious elegance,
experimental liaisons.

Good to see
the corridors of my mind
Disreputable and inhabited,
The forgotten,
the unfashionable,
Breeding experiences
Like there were no
Tomorrow.

Sculpting options,
Reviewing gestures,
Collecting ephemera.

Busy before the moral,
Busybody day curtailed
And manacled these lush
And poisonous flowers,
Slain by opprobrium…..

A very lush dream sequence. Dream buildings always carry a strong atmosphere. They are, after all, the dreamers represention of ‘self’ in some way. My own tend to self-construct around one of a few core architectures, based on real structures, elaborated or morphed together.
One is based on the classic Edinburgh tenamant. A stony, cavernous dimly lit open stone staircase leading up an unholy number of steps, on each landing, two doorways facing each other. The majority are 19th century constructions, so have an inner hall ( in my dream architecture this tends to be a large, square space with a confusing number of closed doors) leading to a variety of high-ceiling rooms with plaster mouldings….
Crossing the Meadows
Frosty autumn morning
Smell of barley and hops:
The brewery down
West End way.
Pale sunlight,
Pale water.
The loom of
Castle Rock.

More often, I construct a space cobbled together from my first flat in Birmingham. A solitary, disreputable maze of a building, again Victorian in construction, in a once elegant, turned seedy, part of town. Split into a bewildering Gormenghast of flats and bedsits inhabited by borderline lunatics, outcasts and keep-themselves-to-themselvers, in my dream constructions it sprouts an unlikely number of split levels, long, thin rooms, rusty balconies that overhang dark, deserted gardens. It breeds a nest of dark, vaguely familiar roads around it….
There is a place of
Poetry there,
Dark,
Colour of dust
And dried blood.
A place of confusions,
Lost directions,
Relict.

Most often, those inner spaces are based on Bridge Street Studios, an inner city canal warehouse complex ( probably now developed into expensive waterside penthouse flats), but when I was there many of the floors, abandoned by East Asian fabric manufacturing companies, had been taken over as the largest and cheapest (hottest, coldest, leakiest) artists’ studios in Birmingham. Divided up by partitions, often ghost towns of creativity, large open floors, huge windows, minimal electricity, always the risk of calamitous waterpipe bursts in cold winters. Again, a multitude of floors, a welter of staircases..
A place of exhibition
A place of seeking out
A hideout, a stakeout
A gathering of unlike minds
A flock of outliers
Dust,perfume,turpentine,
Dead leaves
Blown in,
Collected,
Collected.

Then there is the occassional tasteful Jungian set. A church or cathedral, often with internal growths of trees or other plant forms.. Which brings to mind a particular windswept . island dream, saint’s relics, boats leaving ( always leaving).

A fascination:
How,
From nowhere
Memory of an old dream
Jumps in,
Flavours with mood
Then scinters away
Drawing no conclusions…

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Photographs are from Chichester Cathedral, Ranga Hotel Iceland, traditional Japanese house, Yamanashi, Japan

Not sure if “scinters” was a word, but it is now! ( meaning: fragments, disintegrates, dissolves, flakes off, splinters, etc.)

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a href=”https://simonhlilly.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/frog-garden.jpg”>frog garden

1
pillow rain
blanket breeze.
dream fever.

2
dream fever
waking suddenly
heartbeat!

3
heartbeat,
ticking clock.
suspended weightless
between dream and sleep,
between day and night.

4
tangled drifting words
dream images
ticking clock

5
a tumble of words
dreams slipping away
this floating world

6
this floating world
sinking, bobbing,
rain-soaked curtains.

7
curtains of air.
moon behind cloud.
poet scribbling in darkness.

8
moving carefully
so as not to wake others-
it never works well!

9
the wind
the rain
tears well up,
sutras of hollowness.

10
wriggling dreams
half-formed.
aching heart.

—–

carp pool2<

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jindai treetops2

Here is the final part of this long piece I started on my arrival in Japan last week. It was a lot longer than I expected, but then grief and loss, death and life, love and longing are big subjects.
I have been working from an old notebook so it has taken longer to transcribe and post than usual. Maybe now I will start some slightly more jolly haiku!

JAPANESE SYMPHONY, EIGHTH MOVEMENT, ‘Uguisu’

i do not know ho we can stay.
little bush warbler, i do not know
how it is we can remain.

i am drunk upon your water-clear song.
i am full of white tears for lost worlds.

i do not know how we can remain
so diminished, so lost.

within the song is always silence.
within the sorrow, something else,
something else.

we go, must go,
we cannot stay
forever looking at sunsets and weeping,
in the cool clarity of summer stars.

we are clothed in your song,
little warbler, drunk and raining,
wingless on bare branches.
blades of grass, single petal falling,
we shudder and break
into a thousand pieces.

i do not know how we remain.
we are not who we were,
nor who we are
nor who we could have been,
little bird.

it lies in sorrow, little bird.
it lies forgotten between us, little bird.
it lies between if only and never.

breath comes in and goes out.
joy and sorrow, the flickering breath:
the light and shade of this life.
how can we remain?

song only comes as we expire,
breathe out, let go.
the beautiful voice, little bird,
escaping, gone,
no longer belonged,
no longer belonging.
offered.

memory and forgetting –
the only gifts
we have ever owned.

—–

shady pool1

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—-
CITIES OF NIGHT

The prickle-skin of neon
Electric cicada buzz.

Light – the city’s camoflage.
Fickle, flicker
Paling sun, moon, stars.
Echoed shadows coloured.

Time puddled,
Hissing.

Neon kimono
Expressionless stare
Indwelling darkness.

Iron castle
Skull-wreathed.

A sludge of thought
Clay-like, heavy.
The weight of
Tomorrow.

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036DunveganShore

9 : Hunger

Across the long years
Most falls away forgotten.
Only a few fragments of song
On the scented wind,
A few stinging scars, tight and bitter,
Too highly regarded, dog-ends
Of disastrous choices,
Fit meat only for tales
Not for policies, not for futures.

Where there is gold:
There the cold-eyed, sly-smiled gather.
Where there is strife:
The carrion-eaters swoop in.

The hoodie cries
(Pecking at the eyes and brains of lambs),
Give us our freedom.
Too long have we been hunted,
Hung slack and bloody on barbed wire.

The martens cry
(As they bury into the bellies
Of the flock),
Give us our independence
To feed where we will
The endless, remorseless hunger
That comes summer or winter,
At ice-melt and frost fall.

The wily foxes circle,
Scenting an opportunity of gold,
Warm red crunch
In the dark hay loft.

To be left at peace
To be unhindered and honest,
Not to be slighted nor chivied,
Herded and diminished,
Nor subjected to the slow death
Of parasites,
Their cunning confusions,
Tongues of deceit,
Gold-grabbing fingers.

The freedom to belong
Is born with your each new breath,
Not with long lines of bloodshed,
Not with boundary stones.

Only when the bones crumble,
Where the fat feeds the soil
When the breath sighs, mingling
With the sedges on the loch-side,
Do we wholly belong.

Those who stand here,
And those who have died here:
They have the right to belong,
Like old MacLeod belongs,
Named and pinned under heaven
Until Time wipes even
The slumbering mountain away.

The ocean river squeezed through Sleat,
Fast, eternal,
At last leapt by stone.
The distant shore, desolate, silent
Hands reaching, never meeting.

Where you make your centre
Is where you are.
Where you belong
Your heart alone knows.
There is no language worth speaking
If it is not in kindness.
That it moves, whether fast or slow,
Voice and song
Are our only gifts to the universe.

We are not adversaries who struggle
For small freedoms, for the upper hand.
There is too much to be lost,
There is not enough to go around,
Never a second chance
When the wolves make the choices
Of who and when and where
A sacrifice is required.

From what will you escape?
What fiscal policy,
What redistribution of wealth,
Will free a pinched, aching heart
Filled with fear and debris,
The slurry of history,
The failures of others.

I have tasted a whisky in the hills,
Honey warm and smooth,
That in the city burned black and harsh…..

hawthorn,Ord

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Kyleakin evening

2

 Weavers of the Sidhe

Two came at twilight

From the rath,

Cold with curiosity,

Small as children

But with strange eyes

And smiles too old,

Far too old.

To see who it was

Carried the silence

By the shore

That was not the grey heron’s;

To judge the cry of one

Neither curlew nor oystercatcher;

To weigh the harsh throat

Not of the hooded crow

Nor of the raven.

To find the mote

In sunlit attic,

It’s dance to forgotten harp

Dusted earth, dreamt melody –

Dream nerves tied to sing of rock,

To follow the dancing road.

When they speak

Small blue flames flicker

Upon their tongues.

Their eyes –

Corridors of starlight

From distant galaxies.

Their thin fingers

Cat’s cradling

the centuries.

They are the same

Our ancestors knew:

Changeless,

Dissolving in midday light,

Returning at twilight

With shadows dancing.

They belong to place,

But not to time.

They are the rolling,

Rising, blue distance-

Yearned for,

Unattainable.

032LochDunvegan

3

The Secret Commonwealth

Cast out,

Cast down

From Heaven’s brilliance.

Not falling for the passion of rage,

Nor swayed by the unforgiving violence

Of righteousness,

(The simple, clear lie

of polarities, justice, truth).

Condemned by the Most High

For failing to take sides.

Falling down,

Down

Into twilight.

Neither here nor there,

Backwards or forwards.

It is why they flock to song,

Delight in the poet,

To what moves by its stillness,

What reverberates with passion,

Profound ephemera,

Guileless illusion,

Flash of gold,

Uncertain Reality.

Shot-silk seasons

Rich with the Opposite.

Reflection on reflection,

Echoed echoes.

Not dead, nor living

They are the rolling, rising blue distance,

The accumulation of dream,

Repository of yearning,

Perfume of nostalgia.

The processions, the slow

Dance:

Terrestrial constellations

Caught sight of peripherally,

Oblique,

Canny,

Ambivalent,

Unnerving.

Bane of priests,

Defiers of logic.

Snake language – fast

And sparkling.

A danger to mortal dreamers

Who might fade

Into the world,

Feather roots merging,

Knowing and edges blurred

Into the song of presence.

Perhaps returning,

(if at all)

With a fragment of lament,

An air,

A pavan,

A secret wrenched from time,

Lost within time again,

A wonder,

A treasure,

A mystery unholy,

Disengaging from certainty.

Duirnish sky1

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CillChroisd

So, since our trip to Skye in late October I have been alert for fragments of a long piece called “The House of Trees”. It is an archaeological process: I have seen the overview, the aerial photographs of anomalous markings. I suspect the subject matter, what lurks below the undisturbed ¬†grass, intimations of structure, an outline, a definite definition. Season by season, I return to gaze from different angles ( the low light or high light revealing something or nothing), tentatively trowel away a little soil ( gold being such a flighty treasure, turning to tin can or brass if not approached with delicacy). Gradually an accumulation of relics, lines, phrases, rivers, posies is piling up. So I have decided to display some current finds, unreconstructed, scrubbed, labeled.

The sections so far can be defined thus:

The pivotal images are a small derelict burial chapel beside a moorland road. Initially I was drawn to it by a large twining ivy plant, white and bone-dead, crawling up the roofless walls. But also a small group of yew trees under which a relatively new gravestone had been placed, so that they acted as a living green monument, evergreen in a windswept, wan landscape.

On the other side of the island, on the main road to and from Portree, we passed several times a deserted croft, again roofless, but this one filled with a copse of young trees. It was not in the middle of nowhere, but on the edge of a small village, newer houses just a stone’s throw away.

Both images of time, of mortality, of people living and passing on. The history of Scotland is depressing: bleak repetition of small conflicts, betrayals, squabbles, misunderstandings, bigotry, famines, disasters, displacement, loss, exploitation of the poor by the rich. As such it is not so different from any other nation’s histories. Perhaps Scotland’s historians were less persuaded by a ruling elite to gloss and gild the facts. The small population, the difficult terrain, has meant that lost villages, deserted houses have not been swept away by succeeding generations. The bitter, unthinking inhumanities that so stain a country’s historical development still remain, accusing, daring the passer-by to forget at their peril.

And the rigid, bombastic stupidity of councils, governments and landowners often encourage a wistful nostalgia for something that never was – a free and unified nation.

The romantic, Isle of Skye, (and by God, it is romantic), for example was parcelled up between bellicose clans, each taking possession of one of the peninsulas. MacDonalds, MacLeods, MacGregors and more, all continuing the Celtic Iron Age ( British) tradition of cattle raiding their neighbours, taking hostages, not trusting each other.

And parallel to this, the mythic grandeur of the Highland imagination ( again, a relict from pre-Christian cosmologies). The Second Sight, the Secret Commonwealth of the Fairy Nations, the spirit haunted wilds, the thin veils between Other worlds that pervade the folk history, the music and the sense of place. It is this that first fuels the project. Sitting in silence one evening I had a sense of being watched by the curious non-human eyes of the island’s Good People, and the memorable fancy that they began weaving, implanting, encouraging images, words, ideas. With that came the contrast and similarity between these mythic entities and the nation’s yearning for Independence, Freedom, Self Rule that re-emerges every generation or so ( and to a lesser extent every Saturday night when “Flower of Scotland” gets slurily echoed down the cobbled streets, especially after the traditional thrashing by England of the nearly always lamentable national football team.).

Time is different in mountain country. Each valley, each glen runs at its own speed, collecting its own data, developing its own reasons, its own story. The horizons are small, the world is a house with walls of green and brown slopes. Legend piles up, each place named for the event it remembers. Memory inhabits and flavours.

The city has its own time too, but it is a time shared by all other cities. Its urgencies are not local, it is fed by roads from elsewhere, it feeds also on its inhabitants, who are within its complex alimentary canal, slowly dissolving. Few cities exist within the landscape. They squat upon it, learning to disregard the geography as the years progress. Cities are not self sustaining. They are parasitical, drawing on the goodness from beyond their walls. Without the constant inflow of raw materials and nourishment, cities will quickly collapse in on themselves, self digesting in panic and confusion.

Anyway, here is the first part, as it is at present. (I will post a few other completed sections in the next few days – so far about ten parts).

THE HOUSE OF TREES

Part 1: A Harbouring of Voices

Come tumbling

Like birds for crumbs:

These lines

Bidden and unbidden,

Broken and insistent

Like gulls.

Small as sparrows,

Bright as chaffinches,

Cautious, sidelong, black watchfulness

As of crows.

Woven, twisted, rooted-

A faint echo from the hill.

For here is not the silence of the far North

Nor its diamond thinness of light.

In the dark the bones gather together,

Get up and dance,

Mutter and gesture seeking meaning,

Seeking purpose.

Plaintive, scolding

Finding tongue.

Whose voice

Is the possessor of truth?

It rises and sinks back hidden,

Forming and unforming,

Like a cormorant on slow black waters:

It will be where it was not,

Leaving no ripples of history or intent.

Ripples LochBay

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