Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Wheel of Time. Image credit Charles Philip Kains-Jackson

Fane of the Druids

Time-hallow'd pile by simple builders rear'd!
Mysterious round, through distant times rever'd!
Ordained with earth's revolving orb to last!
Thou bringst to sight the present and the past.
Rapt with her theme, bold Fancy wings her flight
To silent ages long involved in night
Bids clouded forms arise to sight display'd
And scatters light along th' oblivious shade.

John Ogilvie (1733-1813)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bridestones (Remains of Elmet)

Scorched-looking, unhewn - a hill-top chapel,
Actually a crown of outcrop rock -
Earth's heart-bone laid bare.

Crowding congregation of skies.
Tense congregation of hills.
You do nothing casual here.

The wedding stones
Are electrified with whispers.

And marriage is nailed down
By this slender-necked, heavy headed
Black exclamation mark
of rock.

And you go
With the wreath of the weather
The wreath of the horizons
The wreath of constellations
Over your shoulders.

And from now on
The sun
Can always touch your ghost
With the shadow of this finger.

From now on
The moon can always lift your skull
On to this perch,
to clean it.

Ted Hughes

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Springfield Cursus: circa 2000bce. Watercolour by Frank Gardiner, © Essex County Council

Smoke rises

Smoke rises
river flows.

Sitting alone
where people once met and smiled
and considered things
hardly to be guessed at now.

Logs crackle.

Shadows still standing between darkness and light
and in the flickering
shifting the soul back to another place.

Where is my life?
Wither does it go?
I sit alone in my hut and meditate quietly.
With all my thinking I know nowhere...
Such is my present
eternally changing, all in emptiness.

Ryokan (1758-1831) Zen monk.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Silverberry Hill: Image credit Robert M Williams

The Silverberry Tree

For a long time the Prince stood watching the shadows lengthen as the sun slipped behind Silverberry Hill. And then it seemed he could hear singing. At first he thought it was the beautiful voice of Princess Red Dawn, drifting across the meadows from the inn. But as he listened, he realized it was something else, something he had not heard since he had been a boy at Silverberry: it was an Elfin song...

...their mornings were of silver,
and their evenings were of gold,
and the berries never fell,

from the Silverberry Tree.

Their palace was of crystal,
and their songs sung of stars,
and the berries never fell,

from the Silverberry Tree.

But from the North came a shadow,
a dark hand across the land,
a hand that broke and changed the Earth,
the hand of Morindoor.

Their palace then was hidden.
Their songs they sang no more,
but the berries never fell,
from the Silverberry Tree.

Until the Prince returns,
and turns the hidden key,
the berries never fell,
from the Silverberry Tree.

The berries never fell,
from the Silverberry Tree,
the berries never...

The Prince listened in fascination as the song faded away. It was a little like the old song he knew, but there were differences...

The Adventures of Zappo Zhi. Book I. The Silverberry Tree.

Friday, December 16, 2005

'twas the night before solstice

'twas the night before solstice
when all through the land
not a stone stood standing not one to be found.
The Druids and bards had all done their best
but greedy developers made sure of the rest.

Ancient stones were fired and set into walls
while some lay silent under churches and halls.
Ditches were filled and banks cut down
and barrows were ploughed without even a frown.

Once where the sun had shifted and shone
now shadowy memories of stones long gone.
Cold banks and ditches and barren wet holes
were all that remained of the megaliths' souls.

Trucks now thundered through circles once clear
while builders and quarrymen smashed without fear.
'twas like seeing an oak cut down in its prime
the terrible things done to our stones at that time.

Then came a cry for the wise-ones to stand
against the destruction of stones in our land.
A gathering of minds known as
came to the rescue and into the fray!


There were Wallies and Norfolks and others untold
standing firm against wreckers evil and bold.
There were big stones and little stones all having their say
but one in particular stood proud that day.

Squonk! was his name standing true and sound
and declaring to those both here and around
that 'henges' and ditches and banks to be sure
are part of our heritage and our hearts and much more!


(with apologies to Clement C Moore)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Winterbourne and Silbury Hill: Image credit Michael Buy

Solus (Light)

Along the snowy banks
Of winter river's course
There runs a stream of winter light
That travels past the source
The autumn days will slowly pass
The solstice on its way
The ancient suns of yesteryear
Still shining to the last
We sing into caves of stone
Where chieftains lie at rest
Following the fairy mounds
Mindful of the quest
That takes us into lighter times
And tides us over dark
Awakening the snowy dreams
As winter finds its mark

Triona Ni Dhomhnaill

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Franks Casket: made in Northumbria between 650 and 750

The Last Words of Beowulf

Command the battle warriors, after the funeral fire,
To build a fine barrow overlooking the sea.
Let it tower high on Whaleness as a reminder to my people.
And let it be known as Beowulf's barrow
To all seafarers, the men who steer their ships
From far over the swell and the salt spray.