Gwrthryfel

Gwrthryfel / Uprising: An anthology of radical poetry from contemporary Wales, edited by Mike Jenkins, £12 inc. p. and p., 180pps., 4 colour illustrations, ISBN 978-1-912710-48-5

From CULTURE MATTERS

Containing my contribution:

Notes for an Ecologist

It is the Earth itself that is the treasure, not
what is buried in her – the shining hoards of
carbon that feed the rolling mills of the dragon.

We had a life once marked out by the rising
and the setting of the Sun, and by darkness,
with bright Moon and and dark Moon, dark cloud or stars.

To the Earth we cleaved for love and for shelter,
her stones were our hearth stones, her trees made our fires
and we cleaved the earth for a giving of seed.

Our implements bit deep into clay and marl, into
shales that resisted the shares of wood and bone
but were shattered and ground by iron and gritstone.

Our fires then were the fires of the Sun, furnaces
blazing in the heat of the day, cold blades we made
that would pierce shale and bone: steel to carry a life away.

We mined ore from the rocks, cut stone for our walls,
dug pigments for staining. Some gave blood in recompense,
others gathered wealth from wasted lives.

We painted our world with the mind’s brush
and shaped a story with sharp quills of thought,
sat back satisfied as bright day faded to night.

We viewed it all then in imagination’s starlight
waiting for dawn to bring it alive. Dawn comes
gun-barrel grey over the subdued land. We grieve.

For the knot that was tied is broken forever
though we try with gestures to the way of right-living
to be something more than brave green consumers.

We find time to mourn for the forest peoples
who prayed to Faunus before their lands were taken,
for the scattered tribes who dwindle in cities.

We have a creed now: to love the Earth,
be carbon neutral, protect the climate.
Will this bring expiation, this guilty posturing?

What of those who profit from the crimes
that revenge themselves on our children,
who impose even death vicariously?

There is no refuge, nor any sanctuary.

1 Comment

  1. Tiege McCian says:

    First off, congratulations on getting another poem published! That’s exciting, I wish I was more timely in celebrating in your accomplishment.
    I think there is some soaring inspiration in your new work; I would point to such gems as:
    We viewed it all then in imagination’s
    starlight
    waiting for the dawn to bring it alive. Dawn
    comes

    The winged flourishes are nicely juxtaposed by the weight of the melancholy vision of the piece. The opening disconsolate lines where moving:

    It is the Earth itself that is the treasure, not
what is buried in her – the shining hoards of
carbon that feed the rolling mills of the dragon.

    It reminded me of something I noticed quite awhile ago now (after having first discovered your Heron articles) about possible Welsh Earth goddesses. In Nennius there is a odd passage:

    25. The fifth was Constantius the father of Constantine the Great. He died in Britain; his sepulchre, as it appears by the inscription on his tomb, is still seen near the city named Cair segont (near Carnarvon). Upon the pavement of the above-mentioned city he sowed three seeds of gold, silver, and brass, that no poor person might ever be found in it. It is also called Minmanton.

    https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/nennius-full.asp

    It brought to mind an obscure little Irish tale: long ago in the time of the destruction of Da Derga’s hostel three sods of metal ore were gathered from Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. At that site by the Dodder the ore was woven together the ore by druidry and encased in the earth. This was by “Fauta, more properly known as Fotla” and her sisters Eriu and Banba, the tutelary goddesses of Ireland.
    Cormac’s Glossary, Stokes ed, p. 163
    https://archive.org/details/sanaschormaicco00stokgoog/page/n180/mode/2up?q=Floor

    I can only suggest some kinship between the two texts. But your poem sparks a strange and earnest feeling, and recalled those stories to me.
    Thank you for sharing your brilliant work, I hope to talk more soon!

    Like

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