Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Cyber-Offering to Albion

I was trawling various sites tonight, researching some ideas I have on writing a sequence of British mythology-inspired poems, and found this on the site of a dear friend of mine:

"The bard mediates the past to the present, certainly; but her role is also fundamentally to praise. Though she mediates the past, she lives in the present, and her role is to use metaphor to unconceal the being of things. Using her language, by likening unlike things, she is able to cleanse our vision and let us see the world afresh, letting us feel our way into a new connection with reality. The bard is one who renders-strange; she uses language to defamiliarise the world, only to hand it back to us a second later, made new, so that we can experience its wonder afresh.

This is why cliché is not just bad poetry – it’s the opposite of poetry, because it deadens our experience of the world. This is also why writing bardic poetry isn’t just an attempt to write down your feelings as a kind of therapy; it must break new ground. The bard’s consciousness must revolve and rhapsodise around another being, to reveal its nature, its inner being. It is from metaphor that we can lay hold of something fresh. The bard should lay the world before us in its prismatic brilliance."

Mark Williams: Grove of the Stars

On reading these words, I felt strangely moved to steal them (with permission) and post them up here alongside this photo, taken last week on the edges of the ancient forest of Thetford, and the following poem, written in about 1998-9.

This is by way of a cyber-offering to Albion/Alba towards the successful completion of my new project. Perhaps also for a shift from praising to prophecy, as Mark might put it, which feels like frightening territory to enter, though as I wrote once: "Nothing to be done but the crossing:/a still moon drifting dark water ... '.

Birth of the Medicine Man

Nobody knows how, but I sprang
fully-formed from a hole
in the ground: steam accompanied me
and earth shook
with its legs drawn up
as I was squeezed like toothpaste
out of that great darkness.

Once I started to live
it was seen I had an extra rib
the width of a finger.
But this is not all.
My heart, stomach and liver
were found to be crystal.

When I was old enough to dream
I began to remember
how they took me
away from my family,
told me to run
and shot bullets of quartz crystal
after me. One entered
the white space of my head
and spoke to me. It said

'Fall to the ground, fall down
and let the river run over you.'

So I fell and the fathomless river
ran over and around me. Fish
drummed their heels
on the thin skin of my ankles
and when I emerged
I could breathe fire and see
inside solid objects.
I saw a spirit trapped
in the mountain rocks.
I heard its voice
in the mouth of a cave. It said
'All things have their story.'

Listen to the four winds.
All things have their story.

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