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Posts Tagged ‘Wales’

SOAR Y MYNYDD

Where we rest
Deep in the mountains:
Soar y Mynydd

Hung in autumn air
Its white walls glowing:
Riverside chapel

Neat as it may be:
A congregation of leaves
Patiently waiting.

Soar y Mynydd.
Even when people have drifted away
The river sings hymns.

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TO WAKE IN WINTER

To wake in the long darkness
And feel the slow cold seep in.

To love, and to war against those
We do not love, is not enough.

Drained and wan, the ache of it.
The decay of worn roads and reasons.

The ravens are silent as they push
Against the folds of cloud.
The hills ripple but they do not rise.

We miss the touch of sudden sunlight
And a simple purpose to go on.

Is patience a curse or a virtue?

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It is the changing light
That is making the distant hills dance.

It is the falling voice of crows
That weds autumn to the stilling air.

It is the accumulated weight of days
That pales the valley oaks to gold.

It is the forgetting of our own dreams
That fills us so with pathless grey dawn.

It is only hour by hour in the garden’s work
That we learn a steady, silent patience.

Bending down to earth between a hum of flowers
Doing only what can be done,
Doing only what is timely.

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Llangammarch Blaze

There now, lay it all down,
The soft memory and the memory of hard bone.
After the year’s first true frost
A dead sheep lies in the field becoming a dance of hawks and ravens.
And on a lonely hillside unremarked
A blaze has born the babies away.
A smudge of smoke and the light of morning
Is no prayer of peace to ones who wait
Empty-hearted for better news.
The village, warm now in sun, silent.
Thoughts unthought of before – friends vanished,
Those known, now unplaced, a hollowness
Around memory clung to.
It is an uncertain anchor to hold on to –
This world that blinks apart from day to day.
Should we rise and flow like the oak leaves
On the cold dark currents of the Irfon?
Or wrap around like ivy, cling like lichen bloom
To this weathered stone.
We are a thin soil that the wind will blow and the waters leach.
The babies are gone who should be dancing.
The mothers silent, slowly dissappearing.
Pick it back to the bare bones.
Feed the world with our ripped out sorrow.
We are nothing. But we were loved.
Once named, now melted back to everything.
A thin soil on scarred stone.
Golden are the tree tops, a palest blue sky.
The ravens dance in their ring, in and out,
While the sun still shines,
While the sun still shines.

written as the news was emerging about the great and tragic loss in our small village. A family house destroyed by fire in the night, a few children escaping, but many more lost. Llangammarch now besieiged by hordes of prying press and film crews.

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Llewelyn’s Last Morning
(Mass at Llanynis)

A bright morning
for Llewelyn.
Sun through cloud,
The white trees
in waiting.

River is hushed
And the hymns
urgent and quiet.

Before you and after you,
these stones:
Ship of God,
anchored in meadowland.

Before you and after you:
This carved stone pillar,
Woven knot
and lichen bright.

In memory,
to lay them at peace who fell,
Their names are
grass’s whisper only.

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The last native Prince of Wales, Llewelyn ap Gruffudd, is said to have had communion at this small church on the morning of 11th December 1282 before he and his troops were betrayed and ambushed a few miles away on their way to capture Builth castle. It is a small church, not now easy to find, and lies in the middle of a field with only one or two farms nearby. Across the River Irfon at Cilmeri is the well where Llewellyn’s severed head was washed. His troops were scattered and the cause of a Wales ruled by their own nasty, Welsh, nobility ( as opposed to nasty Anglo-Norman nobility), lost. The carved cross-stone looks to be an old grave slab, carved on three sides, but I have found no information about it. In general, these stones were carved between the 9th and 13th centuries – so it would probably have been in the church or churchyard in Llewelyn’s time.

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NOTES FOR A PAINTING

Sunlit meadow
Hidden river singing
Road winding into the mountains.

This road with the colour of itself roams and dips from pink to purple to the brown of a hunting dog. Laid as a wish upon bucking stone, a river of hope for dry feet.

River song
Singing heart
Road into the mountains.

Hidden river
Singing heart
Road into the mountains

Each footstep song, a rhythm of itself repeating with breath and sight, the same view, the slightly changing view, the folding and unfolding view.

Sunlit meadow
Somewhere the river
Singing to itself

This meadow slope lighted with its own green, radiant aura, hovers between dark wood and bright water. A vacant illumined shimmer.

Empty mountain road
Winding beside a river
The sound of sheep

Sheep on the hillsides
Sunshine on the meadow
Empty road.

The mountain faces are copper and lead. They yearn, as mountains do, to fade to mysteries invisible, and clamber towards unreachable towering midnights.

The road and I
Following the sound of the river
Into the northern hills.

This narrow road
Wanders into the hills.
The sound of the river.

The river, a sound of laughing sunlight, uncatchable as eels. We know it by what it is not. The colour of sky and leaves and earth and rock.

Aimless we both wander,
The narrow road and I,
Into the northern hills.

Narrow road –
I do not mind where it leads
Following the river’s song.

These bare branched trees, hazel and alder and oak down there with the birches. Lines drawn across time. A language of balance and holding still. They float more certain than the solid ground.

It will be autumn soon.
The narrow road lost in leaves,
Winding beside the river.

Narrow road and I,
Forgetting where we are
Following the river into the hills.

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DESCANT

Sullied though we are,
The earth shall take us back to itself.
They remain, these fading memories,
And the scudding light over far hills.

Certain is our fate, and always has been:
Summer moves graceful on winter’s bones,
The dancer and the music of the dance.

In desolate darkness is the night,
Where the ashes fall, where the pines fall,
Where the oaks fall, owl-filled, moth-filled
By the slightest light of speeding stars
Through a roaring of winds, the river mind speaks.

And in sunless cwm the shepherd’s house.
Brown light as thick as honey,
Walls sullen and the ticking clock.
An accumulation of sorrows and a life
Of small dissappointments nested in dust.

Belonging is the key to it all,
The only pause in a precipitous dream.
But clinging is not the same.
Wrapped around the web of memories,
Too rent and uncertain to give much comfort.

What is that name we have given ourselves?
And where was the road we turned off to get here?
I have forgotten the names of stars and trees,
And the clarity of goodness and of light.
Above all, I rely on whispers from clouds
And the words flowering from the oldest books.
For they glimmer, (do they not?) , with what has been lost.

All the doors stand open, as they ever have.
All the maps spread out and referenced.
All the ways well trod, all the paths tended.
Yet we move as if none have moved on before us
As if nothing else mattered so much or was so dear.

But the earth shall take us back to itself,
And we who can not forgive
Will be forgiven.

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