Posts Tagged ‘remembrance’


Llewelyn’s Last Morning
(Mass at Llanynis)

A bright morning
for Llewelyn.
Sun through cloud,
The white trees
in waiting.

River is hushed
And the hymns
urgent and quiet.

Before you and after you,
these stones:
Ship of God,
anchored in meadowland.

Before you and after you:
This carved stone pillar,
Woven knot
and lichen bright.

In memory,
to lay them at peace who fell,
Their names are
grass’s whisper only.



The last native Prince of Wales, Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, is said to have had communion at this small church on the morning of 11th December 1282 before he and his troops were betrayed and ambushed a few miles away on their way to capture Builth castle. It is a small church, not now easy to find, and lies in the middle of a field with only one or two farms nearby. Across the River Irfon at Cilmeri is the well where Llewellyn’s severed head was washed. His troops were scattered and the cause of a Wales ruled by their own nasty, Welsh, nobility ( as opposed to nasty Anglo-Norman nobility), lost. The carved cross-stone looks to be an old grave slab, carved on three sides, but I have found no information about it. In general, these stones were carved between the 9th and 13th centuries – so it would probably have been in the church or churchyard in Llewelyn’s time.

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Under the ground an old black cat
Is dreaming of sun shine
Curled around his own still heart
That is a seed swelling and reaching
Into a world of roots and song.
The earth purrs and holds him snug
Knowing already everything there is to know
About his soft ways and sharp paws.
Our short time is named by our name
But we are nameless and vast in eternity
Breathless yet breathed through,
Becoming the fabric tides
Kneaded back and proved,
Bread of heaven.
There is a black cat curled and cosy
Under the ground on the first day of snow.
And he will be dancing through the white uplands
Eyes bright and nose twitching,
Sleek and shined and licked perfect
And loved by one and loved by all,
A grace of freedom moving,
A river heart, endless and unforgotten.

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This life now gone:
A storm of rainbows,
A bowl of fragrance,
An utter song of views.

How to hold the fullness of it?
How to honour the living of it?
How to conceive the lap and swell
Of that one full ocean of sensation?

One eternal unfolding memory,
A tumble of heartbeats.
These every jewelled moments
Are seeds flung back into universal soil.

Never lost, always cherished,
A fuel for dear futures.
They are collected: each breath, each moment.
Valued, priceless passion,
Tears in the bright eye of being,
Tears in the flow of all beings.

Mother, mother, a soft delight,
All burdens borne away,
All pains a cauldron,
A chrysalis swirled
Awaiting new dream
On a new day.

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Word Jam

Words in progress, tasting memories. When it comes to writing down the symphony of chord-thoughts it is easy to get lost, carried away by one small melody. These are probably not finished pieces, but sketches, scribblings, jottings, notes that revolve around one small observation, one image whilst recently travelling through Japan.

Japan has two moods: flat and vertical. The flat plains are in the minority ( only 25 percent of land surface). The rest of the country ascends to the sky as quickly as is possible in dense forested mountains. Outside of the vast cities the countryside is small fields and scattered villages and farms. On the outskirts of these one can see small, tightly packed cemetaries filled with similar- looking monuments of highly polished grey stone, rectangular columns on deeply moulded bases. They are in the midst of the rice fields, embedded in the land, a ploughing back of the past into the future fertility….


Swinging north
Along an arc of coast.
A sinking sun sinking into red
Darkening the fields.
Speeding north:
Glints of gold
In the deserted fields –
The last light reflected
From the mirror-polished memorials
Of the dead.
Close-packed, stacked, huddled,
Names deep-carved,
A gathering of grandmothers,
Nibbling o-sembe,
Comparing grandchildren,
Chiding daughters,
Measuring last year’s yield.


Is the best
We can ever achieve.

Beyond the translucent
Sliding screen
That is the present moment

One koto finds notes –
A pentatonic rise and fall

The hunt for a jewelled memory,
An old nostalgia,
A song from the field.


The shrine room
Of memory

Gradually becoming cluttered,

An acquiescence
Of empty pain

Absorbed, overlain,


As if gathered
For the last spark of daylight:
The memorials of the dead,
Precisely named,
Watching the rice fields
Sodden with snow-melt.


From the echoing rooms
Of the living
( faint smell of pine and cedar)

From the roaring roads
( the long tunneled miles)

To the sea horizon
(the dipping sun)

Set to watch
By the presumptuous living
(Seed, chaff, straw)
Woven into the year,
Ploughed back,
Discretely avoided,
Neatly confined,
The ghosts wake and chatter
Watching from the field’s edge,
The cry of foxes, the wheeling of kites,
The deep obeisance to snow
Of the bamboo grove.

No longer distraught:
Day after day
Unnamed, unnumbered.

They, too,
Know that
Is the best
We can ever achieve….


Observation and memory –

The only defence against

The desolate wastelands of habit,

The ennervating excuse of precedence,

The rigor-mortis of conviction…….

The words of the Buddha

Are the same words

As the foolish man…..


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