Saturday, September 22, 2007

A thing of the past. Image credit W Byrne and Medland: 1786

The motors and the constant traffic

....the sense of solitary grandeur which arose as one came slowly up across the wide deserted plain to stand alone beneath the huge trilithons, is a thing of the past. The military camps, the motors and the constant traffic along the dusty road, the wire enclosure, necessary as one must acknowledge it to be, and above all, the offensive pay-shed, so placed as to spoil and vulgarise the approach by its natural avenues, have robbed the temple of all its old romance.

J P Williams-Freeman

Friday, September 21, 2007

Choirokoitia, Cyprus: circa 9,000bce. Image credit Marcobadotti

People of Choirokoitia

Nine thousand years ago you lived here
in little round houses surrounded by little narrow alleyways
connecting each of your homes one to another.
Alleyways no wider
than the outstretched arms of a modern man.

But then you stood no taller
than one of our children of ten years or so stands now
and lived no longer than our middle years.
It was a time before the thought
of clay pots had even crossed your minds.

You ate as well as we however
perhaps even better.
Pistachios, figs, olives and prunes.
Deer, sheep, goats and pigs.

Unpackaged and unpaid for
taken from the hills all around you.
Water from your streams
fish from your rivers and from the sea.

Choirokoitia, Choirokoitia
people of Choirokoitia.
I walk along your ancient pathways
and peer through your ancient windows and doorways.
What am I looking for?

Simplicity perhaps.
No doubt your loves and losses were as rich and as sad as ours
but at least you knew one another
walking from house to house
through field and wood
laughing and arguing
living life to the full.

Nine thousand years on no-one knows anyone anymore.
You would not like it here people of Choirokoitia.
The sound of your rivers and steams have gone.
The sea supports a flotsam of rubbish you could never imagine.

Gone is the quietness that you knew.
Gone now your harmony with the changing of the year.
Gone too your finger upon the pulse of life
and your upturned hands when life lies cold.

Choirokoitia, Choirokoitia
people of Choirokoitia.
If I could travel back to be with you I would.
I would happily forfeit half my life to walk with you
picking olives and figs along the way
listening to the far-off sounds of the sea
and the mountain streams as they tumble and fall
around your village of little round houses
and little narrow alleyways.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

It seemed to whisper Quietness

Three Counsellors

It was the fairy of the place,
Moving within a little light,
Who touched with dim and shadowy grace
The conflict at its fever height.

It seemed to whisper 'Quietness,'
Then quietly itself was gone:
Yet echoes of its mute caress
Were with me as the years went on.

It was the warrior within
Who called 'Awake, prepare for fight:
Yet lose not memory in the din:
Make of thy gentleness thy might:

'Make of thy silence words to shake
The long-enthroned kings of earth:
Make of thy will the force to break
Their towers of wantonness and mirth.'

It was the wise all-seeing soul
Who counselled neither war nor peace:
'Only be thou thyself that goal
In which the wars of time shall cease.'

George William Russell (1867-1935)