Posts Tagged ‘sea’


Wave on wave.

How can anything

Stand against

This world of change?

The cliffs shake,

The moments judder.

It will all be overthrown.

It will all find surcease.

The movement will not stop.

The movement in the heavens.

The whispering rush of undertow,

The pouring sands into the depths.

What is set in motion

Will roll ever on.

We shall move from despair

Into empty lands

Yet not escape the roar of it.

They clamour and tumble

Towards the heights

And fall back broken.

Hollow caves are their hearts

Beating cold wrack and ruin.

The scent of salt decay.

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These hills, this silence-
Silent enough to hear each sound,
Its beginning, its flight, its echoed end.

Silence as balm,
As high tide harbour wave,
Silence that lifts up, that sustains.

Where weight becomes weightless,
Where distance has a taste.
Where rain curves in
And burnishes the light.
Where breath is more
Than breath, is food.

Where night clothes slow,
And owls name space
And the wind across the grasses,
Across the bracken,
Across the rock,
Across the years.

Whispered forever.
Whispered names rolled,
The music of stone,
The certainty of it,
Of its voice
Across the waters.


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Llym Awel, second stanza. Improvisations.


Ton tra thon, toid tu tir;
Goruchel guaetev rac bron banev bre;
Breit allan or seuir

The alliteration of the first line rolls and rumbles like the waves that are described therein, then stutters and becomes harsh as the roaring sound is described, followed by a diminishing gentleness of the vanquished sloping land. The last line has a shocked gulping sadness, or an amazed sorrow. It frames and positions the narrator in an emotional as well as a natural landscape.

“Wave on wave, covering the side of the land;
Very loud the roar against the high hill;
A wonder anything remains.”


Wave tops wave.
A coupling clamber
A mating roar,
cast seed
spray spume.
Before one, before all,
up sloping land.
Seige unopposed,
howled hunger thrown,
A wild encroachment,
a burst breach
Long and longer reach,
a tumble.
The high hill groans.
What can stand,
what can stay?
From this slide skywards,
From this steep,
utter submergence?


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Small islands that float in the sifting blue:
Prayers, memories, wishes once hoped for.

Clear bounded, unto themselves,
Harvesting thin birdsong
And tumps of long grasses singing.

Fragments of heaven remaining,
Never lifted, never fallen.
Salt-washed, self-rooted.
Rock black and rock red
And the twist of serpentine,
The healed scar of whited quartz.

A skirl of wind,
An ululation of gulls.
Warmth in the lee
Of the byre,
The soft scent of hay.

A hymn, a verse each is.
Inhabited by angels,
Their messages forgot,
Dreaming to the sound
Of long tides.

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jade beach1


On Jade Beach,
Looking out west,
Indigo and white, the sea.
Ripples, woven ikat patterns
By the cold wind.

We could not tell
What was precious,
Nor what bestowed
Pockets weighed down
With smoothed fragments
Of beauty.

Dark pine leans out.
An arc of dark sand.
White, cold wind from the mountains.

These pebbles were mountains,
This sea, spring rains.
Looking for signs of heaven,
Dreaming of jade rivers.

Six foot of snow
Deep in the hills.
Inside the grass-roofed houses,
Warm and dark:
Silk-drying racks,
Rice-harvest regalia.

The big drum is silent
But its roundness
Fills up the valleys
All around.

Our footprints along the ice paths
Melted, flowed into the bay.
The cedars redden again with pollen,
Rust-red in the sharp sunlight.

On smooth black sand
The tide rolls a pebble
To and fro.

Your fingertips
Impressed on clay tea-bowl rim.
The fragrance of memory
Bitter and bright.

These roads we take
So winding,
It is difficult to recall
The last views of the sea,
The last of the sunset.
Go on,
We shall not be far behind.

Down to the sea
Looking for immortality.


jade beach8


(no reason why
It should come up.
No reason why
It should not.
The last time we saw you
Burdened but smiling
Far over the mountain passes
Down by the sea
Laughter along the shore
Dark pines listening
A bleak wind
Mountain still deep in snow)



no need to wait
no need to look back.
we are all following,
one by one.
the winding path
into deep mountain

jade beach2

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The full length piece can be found here as a blog page as it takes up a bit of space (though does not comprise many words). I have recently been looking at some very old travel writings, mostly taking the form of haibun. This one was composed on a brief visit to the Orkney Islands, north of mainland Scotland, during the midsummer of 1980. I have added a few new linking texts, but apart from that the piece remains as originally composed. Accompanying the text were originally some black and white photographs, but as this was long before the days of digital anything, I will have to do considerable playing around to reintroduce them (once I have located prints or negatives)


Returning to Stromness I cooked an evening meal and then wandered aimlessly along the coast. Although I had to rise early next morning, planning to take a boat to Hoy, I was unable to leave such a beautiful evening. Despite the hour, it was still very light, and a deep silence filled both myself and the land through which I walked. Resonance was everywhere. Great wellings up of deep emotion when I beheld the waves on a small foreshore; the trawler, its mast-light flickering, heading out to sea; the hills and cliffs of Hoy across the water almost melting into the deep stillness of oncoming night; young lambs bleating on the hillside; mother ducks with their young by the shore.

this evening, too, lingers,
unwilling to leave
your summer stillness,
Islands of the far north.

on the shore
wave upon wave
only deepens the silence,
Islands of the far north.


soon to depart,
at last
the tune
of something
framing this land

the stranger
knows a wholeness
to which
he does not belong.

mull kodak2 072

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A ROAR OF VOICE ( edge of apparition)

Here it is
Here it is again
The ocean’s rush and roar
A world voicing, praising,
Cursing, keening
An endlessness of salt,
Sweet and bitter.

Rushing in from the single
Blue link to forever,
Illusory horizon, false edge.

They rush in:
Exalting waves,
Then comes the gravel undertow
Pulling ribboned grief back,
The harsh grain and the smooth grain
Rolling endless in the noise of it.
The augmentation, the echoing roar.
Endless is the diminishing,
The withdrawal of hope
Dissipating memory
Negating victory,
The slop,
The soaking away.

A cold white voice
Bleak on air
Hunger of the gull.
I croak and roar
A black god low on the face
Of the deep,
Cormorant shadow silent
Skimming rise and fall
Voice of centuries
My food
My food.

The endlessness of it,
Remorseless the repetition.
There is a vision, a dream
Of rockpools crystal still,
Small jewels rock held, safe.
Bashed, swept up in a new tide
Tumbled and forgotten
Whispers, wraiths, sand-casts
The thin water’s return,
Small waters to a foam bed.

Upon my ears, my breath,
My blood, a voice
In perpetuity,
A bubbled spume, a seed,
A generation.
Its name:
The ocean, the sea,
Is remembering.
Its name
Is forgetting.

A sand of salt, skin salt
Eyes salt, pulled and pummelled
A sway of green weed
Locked to rock
Dreaming silver shoals
And an opening of sound,

Meaning found
No one yet has built on such,
An ocean where lasting is long,
A dreaming forever.
For coral cities are sand,
Mountains, ground.

Sift heart water
Harmless as light
Polishing, melting
Wearing away with song.
Oceanic dreamings
Oceanic wakings.
With noise


( ocean roar: one’s own mind audience, even if quiet, the world’s onrushing rumble bears down.
Never between, never shore-locked, never apart from, swept tumbling, hiss and thud, white noise.
Waveform, signs, sines, spirals. A word in your shell-like……)


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