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Posts Tagged ‘uplands’

I thought I had posted this late last year, but cannot find it anywhere, so maybe I didn’t, after all. The winter skies of the Cambrian Mountains and whispers from Taliesin and the Ordovices, Iron Age tribe of the uplands.

THE HIGH PASTURES OF HEAVEN

About its turrets are the wellsprings of the sea.
Clouds wrap the mountaintops,
Rivers run full with meltwater.
The dear horizon is our fortress,
Saviour from the revolving sky,
Pinned back to harmony.
One voice that is not one voice
That is one voice, the mind
Of the poet on wandering roads.
How is the poet like a hedgerow?
A tangle of blackthorn inpenetrable,
Interwoven, sharp with sorrows,
It bursts into pure blossom,
Its fruits are bitter truth that sustains
Through deep frosts.
How is it that poets and flowers are alike?
None knows when the sweetest
Shall spring up, though the seeds
Are everywhere.

The centre of the land here is a silent fortress, ageless.
Held motionless, it remains
Whilst the seasons roll their seas
Across the valleys.
Such emptiness in a heart, so
One can hear the tumbling flows of feeling
Before they cloak themselves in sound,
The sound before the language,
The language before the meaning,
The meaning before the comprehension.

The ravens knit the valley airs.
The weight of beauty, near unbearable.
So in the centre is silence untamed,
Rolled psalms of poignant distance..
Each path, each road, only now here
Because of the thousand weary feet trudged before
With stick and dog following the fluttering,
Oblivious flocks to and from the high pastures
Of heaven, the summer pastures of delight.

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Sunlight and whispers,
Bright rolling silence.
There is no confusion here:
All things fall fearless
Against the movement
And the stillness
Of hours and their dust.

Footsteps all forgotten
(Puddle, pool, stream, river)
Nothing but the distance of the past
And the distance of the future
(And the skylark remembering both).

The diagonal slide of sun and moon and stars,
Tides of light and shade,
The constant abrasion of the wind.

It hardly breathes, so still it is
In its rising and falling distances.
The silent rolling hills of heaven.

These uplands spread out
Like God’s own hands
On the first Sunday,
Sun-warmed skin stretched pale
Over rippled knuckles,
Bone resting quiet,
Muscle and tendon singing.

Sky-touched, the first moments,
Cloud thoughts, the pale waving grasses,
This click of warming rock.

—-
The Elenydd is the old name for the central uplands of Mid Wales, known as the Cambrian Mountains. The southern border is effectively the Irfon Valley, where I live, though in actual fact the valley is bordered on its other edge by the Mynnedd Epynt, a very similar landscape.
The Elenydd is a very ancient mountain range worn down to a high bog and grassland plateau cut deeply by streams and rivers

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We are living now in a taller silence.
Settled down to a rhythm of hymnals,
Level with the swallow’s breast.
On the edge of long valleys winding northwards
Where the skies divide and clouds battalion,
(The sheep-cleared highlands where ghosted soldiers thunder).

Grey walled are the lichened churches, hunched and hummocked,
Grey walled the farms, grey walled the cwms,
Silver and green the streams under grey spanned arches.

Time turning back to itself, not a straight but a winding road.
Time, as patient as a ripening sloe, taking hues from each twilight.
Time measured in the names of saints, in their prayers and footsteps.

We are living now in subtler skies, rhymed, alliterate, nuanced.
Between threaded rivers: alder-toed Dulas among the sedge grass;
Oak-vaulted Irfon where Llewellyn stumbled never to rise again;
The Bran, the Gwyddon, the Cledan, the Cammarch,
All matched by the paths of stars in the tall, silent night.

The rain sweeps colour from the distance now,
The sun blesses this and then that field with light.
Hills melt and reappear, the ashes sway in a westerly wind.
We settle deeper yet and become still, edged with moments,
Wrapped and whispered, between the syncopated grazings of sheep.

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