Sunday, October 29, 2006

The middle line

Et vos barbaricus

And you, O Druids, free from noise and arms,
Renew’d your barbarous rites and horrid charms.
What Gods, what powers in happy mansions dwell,
Or only you, or all but you can tell.
To secret shades, and unfrequented groves,
From world and cares your peaceful tribe removes.
You teach that souls, eas’d of their mortal load,
Nor with grim Pluto make their dark abode,
Nor wander in pale troops along the silent flood,
But on new regions cast resume their reign,
Content to govern earthy frames again.
Thus death is nothing but the middle line
Betwixt what lives will come, and what have been.
Happy the people by your charms possess’d!
Nor fate, nor fears, disturb their peaceful breast.
On certain dangers unconcern’d they run,
And meet with pleasure what they would not shun;
Defy death’s slighted power, and bravely scorn
To spare a life that will so soon return.

Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (0039-0065)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Nine Maidens: circa 1914


Our sorrow and our joy
Dance with us.
We are unaccountable.

Dance with us
The Sabbath-dances.
We are unaccountable
For this summer lightning.

The Sabbath dances
For this summer lightning is love.

Our hearts thunder.
Is love
Anything but yes?

Our hearts thunder
With desire for you.
Anything but yes
And we should die.

With desire for you
We are struck dumb.
And we should die
In your arms.

We are struck dumb,
Having too many words.
In your arms
Stone is beautiful.

We open to you.

We close into a circle,
We open to you
Our sorrow and our joy.

D M Thomas

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ted Hughes (1930-1998)


You are soaked with the cold rain -
Like a pelt in tanning liquor.
The moor's swollen waterbelly
Swags and quivers, ready to burst at a step.

Some scrap of dried fabric rips
Itself up
From the marsh-quake, scattering. A soft

Explosion of twilight
In the eyes, with spinning fragment
Somewhere. Nearly lost, wing flash

Stab-trying escape routes, wincing
From each, ducking under
And flinging up over -

Bowed head, jockey shoulders
Climbing headlong
As if hurled downwards -

A mote in the watery eye of the moor -
Hits cloud and
Skis down the far rain wall

Slashes a wet rent
in the rain-duck
Twisting out sideways -

rushes his alarm

Back to the ice age.

The downpour helmet
Tightens on your skull, riddling the pools,
Washing the standing stones and fallen shales
With empty nightfall.

Ted Hughes

Grey Wethers Stone Circle

Grey Wethers Stone Circle

We sought Grey Wethers Stone Circle
Stumbling across the dry yellow bents
Of autumn
Along ancient trackways
Meandering all over the place
Linking one valley and another
One group of trees and new plantings.

At last, we reached open moorland
Bare, windswept, no landmarks,
No tors, no churches, no sun
To give us bearings.
A compass point showed due west
And we walked towards where the sun
Should set in the evening hills.

Climbing upwards we reached a ridge -
Still few features, still no sense
Of purpose.
We stumbled on, over rough tussocks
Which hampered progress
And long, tangled grasses
Which tripped clumsy steps.

Downward through marshes
Which shivered under our feet -
The water oozed and gurgled
The land unstable.
We leapt across, feet wet, legs aching,
Lungs bursting, and above us
On the hillside, there were grey stones,
Still, dark, stone sheep, grey wethers,
Fixed forever, granite beasts
At home in the landscape.

Why had we made the journey?
To take photographs?
To sense the indefinable past?
Who knows?
But four New Age Travellers -
Bright clothes, gold earrings, eager smiles,
Passed us
On their pilgrimage.

Anne Trevenen Jenkin

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dolni Vestonice Triple Burial

Under the Hills Near the Morava River

She lay there midst

Mammoth, reindeer, and wolf bones:

Diadem of fox teeth round her brow

Ocher under her hips

26,640 plus or minus 110 years before "now."

Burnt reindeer-pelvis bone bits
in her mouth,

Bones of two men lying by her,
one each side.

Gary Snyder

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bearah Common Long Cairn on Bodmin Moor: Image credit Alan S>

Bodmin Moor

On Bodmin Moor
Broken tooth standing stones
Show where leylines
Perforate the earth.

Along the tear
Sweetfaced ponies
Masked by mud,
Follow paths between
Shaft, Circle, Tor and Sky.

And Dozemary Pool,
Essential blackness,
Lies at the bottom
of a sheer rock shute.

On a concrete island,
A sheepskin,
Daubed with covering woad,
Is stretched in sacrifice -

An Inverse pupil
Sunken in the Moor’s dark eye.

Fiona Colligan-Yano

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Jerusalem. The Emanation of The Giant Albion by William Blake

Jerusalem. The Emanation of The Giant Albion by William Blake

In Dreams of Chastity & Moral Law I have Murdered Albion: Ah! In Stone-henge & on London Stone & in the Oak Groves of Malden I have Slain him in my Sleep with the Knife of the Druid O England.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Trevethy Stone by Charles Knight: circa 1845

Trethevy Quoit

See to the north, the south.
At the moor's crown
Thin Field, hard-won, turns on
The Puzzle of Stones.
Lying in dreamtime here
Knees dragged to chin,
With dagger, food and drink -
Who was that one?
None shall know, says bully blackbird.

Field threaded with flowers
Cools in lost sun.
Under furze bank, yarrow
Sinks the drowned mine.
By spoil dump and bothy
Down the moor spine
Hear long-vanished voices
Falling again.
Now they are all gone, says bully blackbird.
All gone.

Hedgebirds loose on wild air
Their dole of song.
From churchtown the tractor
Stammers, is dumb.
In the wilderness house
Of granite, thorn,
Ask where are those who came.
Ask why we come.
Home, says bully blackbird,
Where is home?

Charles Causley (1917-2003)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Lanyon Quoit: Image credit Moth Clark

At Lanyon Quoit

Look not softly,
Stranger, upon this Stone Age scene,
Nor let remoteness
Disguise where living men have been
In grief and laughter.
Though all’s now hushed and gaunt and harsh,
You are standing where humanity once stood.
These stones seal a sepulchre
For your own flesh and blood.

Here lie our forebears,
Though their memorials have no name.
How should we know them,
If from the grave these tribesmen came?
What was their language?
No echo in the southwest wind
Recalls one word one single warrior said.
Ravaged granite stays to mark
The lost unlettered dead.

Here lie their women,
Short-lived mothers of chance-reared young.
The artless lullabies
This Cornish hillside once heard sung,
Their mourners’ dirges,
Are as soundless to this world’s ears
As to the deaf that skylark’s note above.
Cold silence grips their converse
And all their songs of love.

Arthur Caddick (1911-1987)