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THE GIVING OF NAMES (continued part2)

4
DUMNONII

Wrapped deeply
Within the green fold,
The red red bones
Of the mother beneath us.
We, the ones of the deep,
Self-buried in rich soil, become the world,
Who are the world, who recognise the deep,
Resounding valley, water fed, oak shaded.
We are the sound of deep drums,
The rolling thunder on the high moor
Where the red soil rolls back to wrapped valley
And all is weathered grey earth bone, and
The high, wild airs where the dead still live,
The ones who watch, sturdy, rooted.
We are the ones who return, who sleep deep,
Pile on ourselves, ourselves, mulched, turned.
Who feeding, feed the land when we sleep,
Who climb the steeps and cry the clouds down,
Raven -bright our eye, hawk -sure our grip.
We sound, resound, reverberate

( the Dumnonii of Devon in the SW of England, where I live, and the Damnonii of the rolling lands of western Scotland inland from the Ayrshire coast, both derive their names from the root words for “deep” and “earth”. The Dumnonii were unusual at the time in that they buried their dead, rather than using cremation.)

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I promised 47whitebuffalo that I would write something on the names of ancient Celtic tribes. This is not exactly what I originally had in mind, but it is how things seem to be arriving in these early grey deserts of pre-dawn!

petersfield cernunnos3

THE GIVING OF NAMES (a beginning)
1
The day alights wrapped in cloud,
A gift given to memory.
Trees wait, their eyes lidded,
Savouring those names rich and round –
The roots and seeds so swallowed,
Buried, taken up, changed.

Hollow sweet, the pierced song:
The puffed, cold-breasted birds
Chant, waiting for warmth.

Huddled all, by the crackled fickle flames,
Memory feeds
( shapes and faces, laughter, even).

The light is hungry for names.
It reaches behind ice-stiffened grasses,
Bitter ivy and brown yarrow.

Lost in fog and short horizons are we,
Diminished at each forgetting.

Remote, aimless paths are the paths we move
Without their remembrance.

Small-minded, shadowless,
Pinched and petty,
Fogged and mired do we proudly become:
Stretched ghosts without root or reason,
Withered, starless, slack-handed.

I shall sit, mind naked, pool eyed
Drinking rippled waters.
Stirring, stirring the surface patterns
Resolving, returning, resonant syllable.

A speckled, dull dunnock, unexpected sweet song.
A circling crow, mist moving, lifting a world,
Stumbling between doors of dream.

2
PRETANI
The first are the shaping ones,
The givers of form, far-famed,
Makers and singers.
Gold of sunlight, silver of moon, movement of stars,
Hammered, forged, chased into meaning.
The returning spirals,
A path in and out of time.

A clatter of magpies
Searching root, rock, wood, chill clear water.
A house for the invisible, clothing mystery.
The laughter of ravens,
The warm agreement of cattle.

These islands, named from them,
Whom no-one has superseded.
Their knots and philosophy
Sewn into the landscape,
The manifestors of story,
Witnesses of return.

3
REGINI
The upright ones, the proud ones,
The stiff ones, the tumescent ones.
Upholders, unbending.
A fountaining tree from our loins
Showering gold bowls of grain,
The seed of fat lands, high lands.
The tree of our lord, a king of horizons,
A shelter to all, a song of breezes,
A tumult of battle hymns.

snake rider

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