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Posts Tagged ‘Wales’

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THIRD BRANCH

In brown light, thick as honey,
A book of instruction lies open that is a door.
Listen now, listen to these pictures.

How the reckless, (and even those we once thought wise),
Rush after what has been lost.
Into the fortress of emptiness,
Into deserted palaces and courtyards calling, calling.
And how they, we, I, reach for a clear golden perfect thing
And in that moment become immovable, entranced,
The fountain of all life bubbling inches out of reach.
The golden chains, (each link a true remembering
Of the one before), disappearing up into eternal blue
That holds the perfect vessel, that is equally curse and blessing.

If it has but one clear meaning, then it is not our poetry.
(A vessel chased and engraved with hypnotic flow,
Imperfect symmetry of ripples on a summer stream.)
If we are not led astray, it is not our poetry.
If we do not forget ourselves, wondering how we came here,
What it may all mean, then it is not our poetry.
We shall become poisoned by it and purged by it,
Blessed by it and made full with it. Stripped of skin,
Made shining and given new names, the names of ghosts long gone.
For the truth is: it shall revive the dead, made perfect again but speechless.
Only through our own voices now can they wander this world,
And we haunt them as they inhabit us.
Memory and forgetfulness.

A patch of sunlight sweeps the hills
And is gone.
These clouds, these hymns, these voices.
For a moment we shall fly upward, then remembering,
Fall down once more below the soil.

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This is how it is

This is how it is, or maybe.
(memory is a dark poetry,
old as clouds and as fickle.)

a mountain remembered:
golden and easy
and green in the evening.

this mountain leans into rain:
a glossolalia
of rivers.

this mountain:
lost for days in mist,
and dreaming.

this mountain cloak
draped over horizons,
cloud-shadowed,
bruised purple.

this mountain:
a joy to the stranger,
a burden to the desolate.

this mountain:
benign and warm
and sprinkled with sheep.

this mountain:
cairn-topped,
Its dead long gone
Into small things.

this mountain:
leaning skywards,
always growing upwards
mouthing hymns,
forgetting nothing.

this is how it is, or may be.
(memory becoming landscape,
too vast and folded for one glance).
evaporating our vocabularies,
a rearrangement of whispers.

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Book of Changes

I
Wind river
Ocean airs
Clouds race
Birds watch
From shelter
With anchor feet.
Sounds stretched thin.

“The Creative is heaven.
It is round, it is the prince,
The father, jade, metal, cold, ice;
It is deep red, a good horse, a lean horse,
A wild horse, tree fruit.”

II
News from far off
Sorrow and treachery.
Collecting radish seeds
As they ripen
Between the rains.

“The great prince issues commands
Founds estates, vests families with fiefs.
Inferior people should not be employed.”

III
Dawn already in the east.
Rain in the west.
We wait for news, and names.
The kettle bubbles.

“The well. The town may be changed,
But the well cannot be changed.
It neither increases nor decreases.
They come and go and draw from the well.
If one gets down almost to the water
And the rope does not go all the way,
Or the jug breaks, it brings misfortune.”

IV
Standing still,
All the flock, backs turned
To the wind.
When the storm is over
The grass shall taste sweeter.

“Innocence. Supreme success.
Perseverance furthers.
If someone is not as he should be,
He has misfortune,
And it does not further him
To undertake anything.”

I recently picked up a copy of Richard Wilhelm’s “I Ching or book of changes”. I had it many years ago, and though it is probably not the best translation, it carries a certain, stately grandeur in its language. This morning, in stormy weather, I decided to see what happened combining a few short verses I had written with random selections from the book. Meaningless and meaningful. Everything becomes oracular. Juxtaposition revealing the mysteries of the mundane.

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For want of anything better
We climbed the hill at Narberth,
Bellies full, awaiting wonders.

But as we looked abroad
The land was empty and bare:
Void and desolate.

The clouds race unremarked,
The fields empty, no drift of chimney smoke,
No children’s laughter.

Because you have forgot the turnings in the road;
Forgot the choices, slipped down the easy paths
And left the future to evaporate,
All this has happened.

Once and again,
The tide of light recedes,
The storm winds roar.
There will be no shelter
But the future we fashion for ourselves.

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Wandering over miles of sky;
The song of the height of the day;
Thoughts graze on distance.

There are many paths here, many views.
One can but choose this single moment
Where the next step may fall.

The old sages would place their huts
In quiet groves next to some riverbank,
Letting the world sing them to sleep.
Idly doing the will of heaven,
Showing the way by staying still.
Breathing as forests and mountains,
Babies full and swaddled in beauty.

Restless we wander, honking like geese,
Like sparrows in the eaves,
squabbling over straw.
Tears for the moon –
waxing and waning.

The best we can ever do:
To care for small things
And to learn
a deeper kindness.

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BEYOND SPITE INN (haiku)

Cuckoo echoes cuckoo
Beyond Spite Inn
The road rises into cloud

This valley folds the green road
Rain drips from the copper beech
Grass bends over tumbled walls.

On Brynffo the spirits drift
Light as thistledown between the firs.
The sound of running water is their voice.

On Esgair Fwyog the sheep graze new grass.
The rain has melted distance.
A line of hills rest in sunlight

A sunlit hill.
Clouds shift.
It melts in rain.
Sound of running water

The steep slopes of Brynffo
Pine needles and the smell of bracken
Moving waters whispering

Lost in the dark forest
Whisps of mist drift aimless
Enjoying cool silence.

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THE THISTLES

Cloud is down over the hills again.
It drifts and rolls between field and forest.
The valley is lain out soft and still green;
It does not mind the warm rain.
There is not silence, but it feels like silence.
Sheep shorn and the hay is in.
The thistles have a royal flower:
In deserted places, proud,
Like ancient tribes before the Romans came,
They gather and stand still.

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