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Posts Tagged ‘Welsh language’

PROPHECY IN THE MORNING

Tra mor, tra Brython,

Haf ny byd hinon;

Bythawt breu breyryon

Ae deubyd o gwanfret,

Vch o vor, vch o vynyd,

Vch o vor, ynyal ebryn,

Coet, maes, tyno a bryn.

Small gods consume lesser gods

To become great gods.

Simple ideas coalesce

To plot the downfall of worlds.

Ye prophetic poets who starve in corners.

Ye warrior kings who walk on mothers’ sons.

Ye ocean depths. Ye wild autumn skies.

Ye ultimate icy silences. Ye forests singing.

Words that lack mouths fall impotent.

Memories that lack accuracy

Become stories for the bored and enervated.

Today, like every day,

Is the last day of this bright world.

Today, like every day,

Will become ashes glowing in the cooling evening.

What will you do to sustain?

What will you do to glorify?

What will you do, O foolish ones,

To mimic eternity, and fail?

I am Taliesin and I am bitter dust.

Bright browed and grown from circumstance.

A seed swallowed by a great mother, hatched and thrown adrift.

If my words bite hard, they are to waken you.

Your footsteps are poison

Wherever you tread.

How shall reparation be made?

Pop arawt heb erglywaw – nebawt

O vynawe pop mehyn.

Yt vi brithret a lliaws – gyniret

A gofut amwehyn:

Dialeu trwy hoyw gredeu bresswyl.

The words in Welsh are from The Prophecies of Taliesin:

At the beginning:

As long as there is sea, as long as there are Britons,

There will be no fine weather in the summer;

Feeble will be the lords who come to them

Through deceiving the weak.

An attack from the sea, an attack from the mountain,

An attack from the sea, the uninhabited region in tumult,

The wood, the field, the hollow and the hill.

and at the end:

Every supplication going completely unheeded

By the lord of every place.

There shall be turmoil and tumult in the host,

And spreading tribulation:

Acts of vengeance mixed with constancy of fair promises.

Prophecies accumulate their own veracity.

They become the origin and end point of themselves.

Boulders thrown into a stream,

Turbulence upstream and down.

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SOIL OF A NEW HEAVEN

The bare trees bend.
Birds bob and float –
Words of a haiku
Searching for a place to rest.

A single beam of sunlight tracks the valley floor
From a sliding sky-pool of bright gold.

The last few leaves have fled
And there will soon be rain.

A fragrant savage despair –
Like love, but not love.
A bitter yew red dust wedded
To ash and water,
Sprinked jet, sprinkled amber.
A language hugged and big as mountains.

The words of Taliesin sucked in through eyes,
Turned, fermenting in a cauldron heart.
Spat out in a limping century,
Adrift in baseless magic,
Amongst debris of another false economy.

Strike this hard sky-grey flint until the sparks fly –
Then the river words shall flow torrenting
Pulled by a centre true and weighty:
Inescapable earth, the spinning fort
Where all yarns are woven up, mataté and mill.
We shall be ground yet,
Ground down and ground up.

We shall become grist and whispers in the ears of playing children
Who do not know anything of us, not names nor actions,
But threaded on the same hopes,
The lilt of a language as natural as falling asleep.

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AFAGDDU

Am nyt
Vo nyt vyd;
Nyt vyd am nyt vo
;

Since it may not be
It shall not be;
It shall not be
Since it may not be;

To the light, bright, guileful one
This darkness unfathomable
Is a fear ugly and unbreached.
Refusing its nomenclature
Sullen beyond edges, unruled.
If it has language it is the language of mould
The skittering of small things, of decay.
A mulch, a compost, a howl of vowels
A gutteral bubbling of green mud,
White, stripped bones grinning
Through swags of drooping flesh.
It is the architecture of night,
The logic of humus, its own gravity,
Penetration of life within life,
Life searching out new form,
Stretching for new freedoms,
A rainbow slick, gyrating in fractal.
Subhuman, unruly son of the mother
Held in her arms, limp and ever dying,
Pieta, beneath matter’s crucifixion,
The rot of resurrection, a weaving of thorns,
Refusing the excuses of others, nothing to tell,
Washed in tears, its own aromatic unguent.
A secret not what it seems, that few will approach,
Is the centre of all things.

Vyg kadeir
A’m peir
A’m deduon.

My song
And my cauldron
And my rules.

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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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BLACK BOOK

it seems time now
to turn back to those
terse ancient words of winter

(now the leaves flounder across lawns,
the grey lidless sky at the window,
and the hills melted in rain)

to tease out the meat
and gristle of them,
to open the heart,
see the red blood pump through
and where and how
that mysterious circulation,
vowel and consonant,
revolving as keys.

(and the cloud upon Bryn
like a dove on the brow of God.
and the trees in their lordly might
whispering from leaf to root to leaf)

each tooth and tongue
taking edge.
each passage,
a view coagulate.

(and the dusty crows thrown eastwards
on the wind of storm and shortening days)

a small breeze it is
that burns the flesh cold.
a bleak hill
a bleak hill.
harsh is the path,
and we, shelterless.

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So fragile
Is beauty.
That
Is what
Every song
Says.
Fragile as a single breath
On a winter morning:
A mist flowering out
On settled air.
The slightest murmur,
Whisper without word,
A readjustment of time
And space,
A coordination atomic.
A new chord
Tasting the intervals between.

A settlement of sound:
Snow on the ridge edges.
Colour flees through the sky at dawn.
So, then, it grows colder.

There is sound.
There is silence.
There is
The dance of light
Between them.
Some time,
In the small hours,
The fire will die down
And we will dream.

Beauty is our food.
We hunt it out
For sweet sustenance.
Gathered, it is
The honey
Of our memories.
Clear and golden,
A long summer evening,
Just before the stars appear.

The moths,
The small things
That delight in edge
And shadow,
Where softness
Calmly billows,
Inviolable.

The way
That words fail
Upon sudden,
Harsh beauty.

Hardly moving
This slow, congealing
Blood of dawn.
Congregated, coagulated,
The most slight timbral vibrating,
This metallic air will disengage,
Withdraw to its smirked edge.

Unsupported,
Things fall motionless
To frozen earth,
A whitened mist,
A cloud of ice,
A stutter.

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6

Ottid eiry, guin aren;
Segur yscuid ar iscuit hen;
Ryauar guint, reuhid dien.

This verse has a beautiful rhythm and some clearly visible rhymes. The last word on each line rhymes ( aren, hen, dien), bringing a clear finality to the clipped imagery. The second line emphasises internal ‘s’ sounds and a sonic and semantic similarity between ‘yscuid’ (shield) and ‘iscuit’ ( shoulder). The third line rolls with repeated ‘r’s. ( ryauar, reuhid).

A fairly literal translation is:

‘Falling snow, white hoar-frost;
An idle shield on an old man’s shoulder;
Very great wind, grass freezes.’

The second line may have been a well-known epithet regarding uselessness, appropriateness, wasted effort or similar. Whatever it is alluding to, there is a clear contrast and comparison between the external conditions of winter and the frailty or limitations of humans.

A shield on
An old man’s
Shoulder is a
Useless weight.
This battle lost:
Blood freezes,
Hair whitens.
A rattling breath,
Needle cold in
The lungs.
Cold wind scythes
The land, all falls
Cold and motionless.

A shroud of memory shields the real.
A heavy weight is its covering.
A welcome numbness dulls each sharp edge.
White is the weight of snow,
White the beard of frost.
White the hair, white the vision.
White the mountain shield above the mist.

Heavy and lame the old man’s hand.
Dead weight the shouldered shield.
Neither weapon nor defence,
No comfort, but an accretion of habit,
Laden down, a bitter burden.
A cloak, a blanket would better serve.

The only blanket is snow.
The only battle, against cold.
The one breath, a wild wind
Turning grass to steel.
A bitter blade of winter
On bitter blades of grass.

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