Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘the numinous’

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.

Read Full Post »

HARD RAIN

Hard rain washing the world away.

Leaves fall through cooling air.

The gutters are singing an autumn song.

Rivers wake from summer’s sleep.

I was dreaming of eagles and their turquoise voice

In the days where darkness drums down more suddenly

And the cold cannot any longer be shrugged off.

I was dreaming of a path that was a spiral

And a spiral that was a mirror.

I stand before a silent oak.

Its name is eternal song,

Retribution, its door.

Its mouth is darkness.

In the end we do not know what matters.

This curl of sound, this exhalation of breath

Might be enough for a universe to be complete.

I study the taste of this turquoise,

Turn it between cold fingers

Then walk into the hill ( for all hills are doorways).

If you follow the hare, the path shall lie

Flat as grass before a strong wind.

If you follow the deer, the path shall be

Dappled and filled with birdsong.

If you follow the otter, the path will be

Silver and smooth as moonlight.

If you follow the dead,

Returning to their places,

You shall find your path

To womb and fireside

And questions: why and whereto.

All the warm singing halls

Lost in mist and blood.

All the familiar is a lie.

The world is utter strangeness

And the stars, known but unnamed.

I have been a trowel, an eagle, a pen.

What has been put together, falls apart.

These dreams you do not own.

Each is borrowed to keep you warm.

The path is a name you do not know.

This world is all the clue you will get.

Wrapped and unwrapped, each day a reminder.

There is no greater fool than a poet,

No greater truth than the lie of poetry.

Read Full Post »

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?”

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

INDWELLER (Gwyn ap Nydd)

Tell me the first thing.

.

The first thing is fear.

White, empty, formless, unknown.

That is the first thing.

It boils up in the fist of battle,

In the first and last breath,

The whimper of why,

The sigh of receding pain.

.

And it is alive still, this fear.

I am the white hedge of between.

Death, Winter, Hunter.

These, but not these.

.

In the far North

They say the gods that made creation

Were formed in the gap between things.

The first instant, the impulse, the breeze of doubt,

The white vertigo, the doubt.

What is?

What is this that is?

And is not me?

And who is,

And why?

.

My red-nosed hound that hunts

Is a hunter of reasons.

To know why.

My steeds, ever moving on,

Are clouds.

My purpose is unclear,

My definition is to be,

But not to be located,

Nor known, nor named.

Or do I yearn for that ever after?

To be fixed, and simply loved for that?

Like everything else with a place, a reason,

A name, a history, a cause, a story, a remembering.

.

Without the words, when the words are not enough,

The white mist descends and I am fear, utter and complete.

.

And the forgetting.

The breeze stirs the waters.

The deeps that cannot be measured,

Nor named, nor traversed, nor left behind, nor excluded.

Void, or Soul.

Senseless or beyond sense.

Named I will be diminished.

But diminished, I shall be known.

.

If there is something greater than this.

That is the hunt.

To sift through the clamour.

To contain all colour.

To return to the white empty fullness.

This cliff edge.

This between.

I dwell.

Read Full Post »

A RAINBOW WALKS

A rainbow walks the yellow hill.

Small birds know that Spring is coming.

The wide-winged hawks, too, wheel and watch.

The rain has reached us now,

Tapping the roof.

Our skies yawn wide here:

From the Radnor hills right round

Through Crychan forest and the hidden dive

To the Sugarloaf and the low lands beyond.

Epynt is the wall of centuries behind us,

The deep valleys of the Cambrians, an uncertain present.

The old stones have been removed,

Or lost, that pinned us to hope.

The roads run thin and crumble.

If you live forever, all this is of no consequence.

If you live one year, or two,

This doubt and uncertainty is extravagance.

Many hereabouts conjure their own futures

From a past they grasp as if it were theirs.

As well to leave it be, leave it be.

There is no power here but a rainbow

Walking, for a moment, the yellow hill.

And the flow of wind and cloud across the horizon

No one can see beyond.

Read Full Post »

TWO DISTANT MOMENTS

.

I breathe the cool cloud

The jackdaws lean into.

The spice of wet grass.

A radiant moment dissolves into eternity.

.

Evening turns to rust.

The blue hills bloom cloud.

Soft, this beautiful melancholy.

.

Read Full Post »

WINTER SONG

Storm words roar from the north.

From oceans of ice the sanity of cold.

.

The pines here bend and shudder.

The birches here shimmer light webs.

The waters here grow thick and silent.

.

Time, its old fire wan, weakens limp.

Nothing can be done, its slow moments congealing.

Nothing can be saved, the precious mirrors tint and spall.

.

There is no way out, no way in.

The roads all spattered, batter edged.

Small beasts bear the burden hearts or give them up to rest.

Small beasts melt into the shrines of singing stars.

.

The clouds ring loud, the earth an anvil, cold steel hard.

The sun has three days stood still,

It stutters on now, but in new pain.

.

The days of winter are a long entrancing poem.

It has a recitation hypnotic, unyielding.

The wind shouts it, the north wind, the song of winter long.

.

And winter still to take its deep bite on the warm world.

Day by day the dying are heading west,

They trail their names and their memories, river dreaming.

.

What is left are bones and the teeth of night.

Harsh goddesses who lust for flame,

Older stories than the ones we know,

Older by far, in the language of soot and coupling.

A cave-deep heat lit by animal scents.

.

These first roads are etched on our palms,

Red, in the alignments of circumference.

From here, the silver rivers;

From here, the stones that sing;

From here, the roots reach downwards;

From here, the seeds are gathering together.

Read Full Post »

THE TALIESIN SHADOWS

1

He comes forth by words,

out of darkness and brightness

(we, watching, blinded by both).

.

Out from blood, out from skulls,

out from the groves and the mist.

.

They tumble, birds from nets,

these wild words seeking skies.

.

The scent of oak and moss,

the scent of rust and iron blood.

.

A thousand years,

and still no-one has fathomed its depths.

.

The evening sky swept clear of life and death,

autumn clear with the tooth cold edge to it.

.

He has learnt to weave the shadows.

Mystery is his cloak, a feathered cloak of wings,

wings of words.

.

The meat of the past, the blood and muscle

of all forebears held in rhythm and sound.

.

They have perfected their own shadow,

full of mystery and silent horror.

.

Persistent dreaming encourages a certain familiarity

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

.

We talk to the spirits of the dead,

recounting their stories, reviving their memories,

reincarnating the spirit.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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?

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

Read Full Post »

THEY ARE BEYOND

They are beyond reach, beyond the wall,

Beyond the chattering sparrows in the cool mist morning.

.

The hill mutes its gold and silver.

In the valley, old men farm regret.

.

It is beyond, but hinted, by the soft fall of rain,

By the slow southern breeze,

By the pale light and waiting.

.

It is curled about the sleeping cat,

It’s breath a whisper in the room.

It goes out and comes back

Dressed in notions, disguised in feelings.

.

It is inherent, yet escapes from

These eternal passing moments.

It becomes a word, moves air, shifts the sight,

Then disappears.

.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: