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Posts Tagged ‘tradition’

When they speak it is rivers.
It is pines roaring in the wind.
It is sparrows at daybreak,
Swallows in blue open skies.
It is the rain in old gutters.
Vague as mist-hugged valleys.
Harsh as ravens and the keening
Of spread-winged kites.

And yet it fades and falters
Year by year pushed to a further edge,
The language of grass and trees,
An anachronism.
As if it had not tumbled down
From the highest empty uplands.
As if it had not been passed along
The careful tales and whispered spells.
As if it were not that simple coagulated dust
Brushed from God’s own hands.

Jealous of its rainbowed fluctuations,
A by-passed parish, a redundant economy.
It is a sad craft that kills the past.
It is a miserly mind that accepts
No drop of mystery to remain.

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MARI LWYD 4

This dream we cling to
As if it were the only dream.
This wind, these hills,
This heart so tattered,
So threadbare.
Scoured even,
Stretched thin,
Worn down.
A whisper in the rain.
A word forming in the pines.
Winter shows the bones
Of what is, of what
Will remain,
Of what the old songs sung.
This has been your life
Down to this frozen moment,
This darkening path,
Distant laughter,
Sparks spinning
From the bobbing torches.
Shall we go on?

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MARI LWYD 3

We follow sightless bones
Through the narrow door into a New Year
Because white bones and sightless eyes
Are the only things ever to pass through
From now to the future.
The wise will wander aimlessly,
Lost, discussing the dark paths, the short cuts,
The less muddy way.
We will stumble drunk and aimless
And find the warm door
And ask the right question
And fall to sleep
As the voices laugh
And roar
And the light
Slowly rises and fades.

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MARI LWYD 2

Sparks spin into night.
Through darkness a white ghost moves.
We follow, laughing.

Landscape remains.
Mind stays the same.
It is only the light
That changes,
Only thoughts
That come and go.
The music of it all
Remains,
Though the notes
Are constantly rearranged.

This dream so real
We fear there is no other.

We follow the grey empty void
For which we have made sparkling eyes
And a name and a thunderous roar;
And filled it with questions and answers,
Sustaining itself in darkness,
Intruding into our hearth.
Skull empty judge,
Bent bone and curved empty,
A void of time.

Lacerating tattered hearts
The wind that scars the hills
And incrementally erodes
Once warm moments
Wearing down words to screams,
Wisdom to leaden clubs.

A white sky.
Snow cold are the hills.
The rain freezes.
Beauty is not for you to survive,
But to savour
And then to long for forever.

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A sequence of connected works, or variations, to do with Time, New Year, tradition and mysteries. The Mari Lwyd, (‘Grey Mare’) is a horse’s skull decorated and carried on a long pole that goes round houses on New Year’s Eve exchanging banter for food and drink. It seems like a really ancient tradition and has the edgy, initiatory, feel of the oldest of memories.

Part One

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MARI LWYD

A fluid darkness, a slow river wind.
Wild torches taste change, sparks tumbling into tomorrow.
We follow laughing, the Mari Lwyd with the wild futures
As all before have done this New Year’s Eve in the old valleys
Lost in the darkness, these hills watching, loomed.

Following the Grey Mare who tests the wit and want,
And begs for food and the oblivious warmth of drink,
To remember and forget the fading paths, the slender chance,
The fatal message.

A laconic nightmare stirred up for a vigilance and a testing,
Slick and breathed upon with frost death, breath white sheet cloud,
An ectoplasmic emission, the dancing myth of earth,
A decay and return of Time to its rightful round.

Not a horse of this world, patient in the paddock.
A night horse, all will ride willy-nilly,
And a rough ride or a wild drunk banter.

We ride the words, we ride the stories, into the night.
The torches are well made, but will still gutter and die in dawn’s drizzle.
Mari Lwyd is mute this year – no wit left amongst these sundered tribes,
No one can recite the triads, utter the names of things, the innuendo beneath the sheet.
We rake over ashes, but for want of fuel the fires will die
(And perhaps they should, perhaps they should).

A new fire, the valley snaking north, caught glorious in a winter dawn.
The light slides deep, across pale oaks and forest boughs,
Slides with shifting cloud across the tops, across the fields.
The bones of things dressed in warmth,
But it is only the bones of things that will ever pass
Through and along and between the long nights,
And into the death and birth of years.

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Hills behind

There are hills behind the hills,
Words behind the words.
Clouds of understanding billow up
Then dissolve to fog.
The old words, the mountain words,
The river words –
No matter how fast you move,
You can never catch up with them.
The old words,
They have the deepest roots.
We sit by the forest edge,
Sky and grasses and the sallow dell.
Starlings shift and rise
From field to field.
Their patterns weave small tongues,
Bright eyes.

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Ystrad FFlur 2

one door in an empty field.
a pattern of stone,
the chantry coves.

clouds are sheep and cattle
drifting slowly out of sight.

but for the peace you would not know
poets and kings were buried here.

we cannot stay
but maybe never leave,
like the pilgrim stream
whispering prayers
on cool, light feet.

like the tinted copper beech
and the hollowed yew.

like the faith of thousands
and the recitation of the birds.

the green edict of grass
has covered all dissent.

a spiral stair ascends
into empty air.

the old names adhere somehow,
the slow erosion of autumn rains.

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