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Posts Tagged ‘Taliesin’

IN HER HOUSE (Dakini Day)

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In her house of stars

the dark one’s hunger is unabated.

Clothe yourself in time and space and it will not be

Half enough

to approach her roaring silence.

The void around which the cauldron’s form is boiling:

All the gods burn bright

to feed that eternal heat.

Spinning arms dredge the web of roads between emptiness.

Vast is the well and vast the language.

The proud will not find it.

The worthy will not find it.

It is not what you are, nor what you would wish to be.

So hungry it can never be sated,

So full it can never be found.

Words approach and are swallowed.

Eternal dancers surround it.

Pillars of smoke are its witness:

The primal hole where gods ejaculate and die.

Supreme Glistening Darkness, we hear your song and tremble.

We draw your name as the moving waters do.

Down, down, down.

We do not know by knowing.

We do not remember anything by remembering.

Be still. Be silent.

The spiralling throne finds us and draws us in.

A cold breath passes through us.

We sigh and become glorious.

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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.

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Nyt o vam a that

Pan y’m digonat

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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.

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A’m creu a’m creat

O naw rith llafanat;

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And my creation was created for me

From nine forms of consistency:

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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.

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O ffrwyth, o ffrwytheu,

O ffrwyth Duw dechreu;

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From fruit, from fruits,

From God’s fruit in the beginning;

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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.

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O vriallu a blodeu,

O vlawt gwyd a godeu,

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From primroses and flowers,

From the blossom of trees and shrubs,

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5

One year we were given

the gift of madness.

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Prid o pridet

Pan y’m digonet,

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From earth, from the sod

Was I made,

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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

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O vlawt danat,

O dwfyr ton nawvet.

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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.

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A’m swynwys-i Vath

Kyn bum diameth.

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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.

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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.

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O Eurwys, o Euron,

O Euron, o Vodron;

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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.

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O pymp keluydon

Arthawon eil math –

Pan ymdygyaed.

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By five enchanters

Of a kind like godparents –

Was I reared.

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11

One year to placate and cajole poisons.

Those songs were enticing, sweet as death.

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A’m swynwys-i wledic

Pan vei let loscedic.

.

A ruler fashioned me

When there would have been a burning extent.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Gwaryeis yn llychwr,

Kysceis ym porffor.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ef gwrith, ef datwrith,

Ef gwrith ieithoed.

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He made, he remade,

He made languages.

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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.

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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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THE TALIESIN SHADOWS

1

He comes forth by words,

out of darkness and brightness

(we, watching, blinded by both).

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Out from blood, out from skulls,

out from the groves and the mist.

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They tumble, birds from nets,

these wild words seeking skies.

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The scent of oak and moss,

the scent of rust and iron blood.

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A thousand years,

and still no-one has fathomed its depths.

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The evening sky swept clear of life and death,

autumn clear with the tooth cold edge to it.

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He has learnt to weave the shadows.

Mystery is his cloak, a feathered cloak of wings,

wings of words.

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The meat of the past, the blood and muscle

of all forebears held in rhythm and sound.

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They have perfected their own shadow,

full of mystery and silent horror.

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Persistent dreaming encourages a certain familiarity

with dear monsters. “My awen is an ash spear”.

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We talk to the spirits of the dead,

recounting their stories, reviving their memories,

reincarnating the spirit.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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WHOSE EYE

Whose eye now rests unblinking?

These sorrowful scattered things.

Whose perfect recollection

Recites names and causes?

Who knows and can name

The wide, free roads to destruction?

Is it that there is only ever one timeless voice,

Bright-browed and sharply bitter,

A wormwood for awakening?

Slew the game and shift the form,

It can never break from the following cloud.

The storm crow cries,

Carrion falls to feed new flocks.

Day and night is his mouth.

Dawn and sunset, dusk and midnight.

They are dreaming

Who listen to that song

Dreaming it is their dream alone.

There is peace beneath

The storm of words.

One world anchoring

The roaring others.

Gather back your souls, lost and scattered.

From this forest undergrowth.

From the peeling skies.

From the long dust roads.

Gather them in the heart of a song

That will not brook nor break.

One season returning with bright fruit.

One prayer reaching the throne of the Creator.

All this is the debris of glory.

The gold that feeds the gods-

These autumn grasses are brighter,

These few days, more precious.

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RISING, RETURNING

Rising through mist and rust and gold.

The rain coming and going and the oaks holding on.

History repeating itself, as it always does,

And the eternal poets weeping and laughing

In their sunlit words.

We shall reach home soon, as we always do,

Until the very last time when time shall slow and stop,

And the oaks, only, will be holding on then

In rust and gold and sunlit drifts.

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THE PERFECT MEMORY

Chapel oak frames the bright morning.

Crow’s wings: black, white, black, in the early sun.

I have reached into perfect memory

And drawn out a continuous stream,

Beyond names, beyond form.

A song from the bright, wondrous world.

.

My heart is burst into four,

Sundered and cast again into gold.

It hangs by threads strong enough for eternity.

Morning now as hushed as breath of nine maidens.

The slow, rotating mists that rise and sigh.

This summit cannot be reached by thought,

But by the rhythm of steady walking.

It goes beyond names, it goes beyond forms.

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We have moved beyond safety in the ship of chant.

The confederacy of the senses murmurs in discontent.

Currents and cross-tides and the hidden lands beneath

Steer us whether we choose or not.

It has always been so: these sea roads as fixed as stars

And the stones that measure them staring from the shoreline cliffs.

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A year and a day: that shall be the last feast.

Months-long travel for the final gathering of memory.

The sowing of seed, the tilling of the soil, the hiding of light.

The letting go, the letting go.

Bones buried, doors locked.

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Pink thrift on the foreshore.

The horizon unsullied.

We shall sink down in grief here.

Washed away, washed away.

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White crow, black crow, of perfect recollection.

Beyond names, beyond forms.

We are all gathered up –

The long roads mapped between stars,

The final feast where all is swallowed up.

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Bright are the beams of its hall.

Its fires, a delight, and its succour complete.

Light and dark the chapel oak holds firm.

Vast are the teachings within silence.

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EXIT STRATEGY

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Easy to make reckless plans with full bellies,

But many hearts sank in silence amid the wild enthusiasm.

To drag us all into darkness is the destiny of heroic leaders,

And it is they and their names will be ever remembered

By the sleek, sleazy poets collecting their nightly gold.

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Of course, there were plans and there was strategy.

Of course, it was not immediate – that dissolution

Into the suffocating mists of isolating fear.

The poets’ make clear that there was some fine history there.

But we went into the great design believing we brought light and honour

And hoping quietly for at least a little plunder to justify the slaughter.

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No one had told us that the air there would be sharper than our steel;

That our proud bellowing voices would be snuffed out

Only by the weight of the unutterable silence of that place.

That the chains that chaffed us, ( the poet’s said), were the very sinews

That held our bones and breath, our only strength, our only continuity.

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We shall be mocked and sneered at by any who survive,

Even refined orators driven mad by the senselessness and broken screams of it.

These bright heroes dragged dizzy from the conflagration of hearts,

Goodness sold for pennies or twisted into shields to refute incompetence.

Greed disguised as quest. That tomb will not be opened.

No triple spells to cajole the lost towards a familiar banality.

No back to normal as the ghostly voices weigh down the thin air

With starved dreams and the corpses of tomorrow’s children.

Nothing but worms, now, of glory.

A heroic sunset it was, and now the cold darkness is creeping in.

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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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TALIESIN ECHOES

“I have been the radiance of stars”

Standing still feeling the heat leave.

Pierced, made nothing, made all

By the silent kissing of a million stars.

Hanging headfirst over a boiling void of words,

Whispered, muttered down the centuries to now.

How beauty strikes us dumb

And then, how pain creeps in.

The holding and the letting go that

We never learn.

What the river says, what the river says.

Ye warriors, so like primroses.

Ye poets, so like hedgerows.

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AWEN

Awen in the deep floating night.

Awen in the river darkness

Awen in the drops of rain

and the wordless cool vessel of being.

Awen in the scent of wood smoke

and between the lights and between the shadows.

The seesaw of the world,

this fragile weight of balanced moments

haunted by what has gone and seeded by thought

not yet flowered, not yet fruited.

The seed within the cell,

within the roots of blood

and the roads of time.

We are within. We are within.

The awen, our eternal passing breath.

—-

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