Category Archives: Bardic Poetry

Breaking Light: part five

space sunrisev

 

It is late. It is early.

 

And the world is turning beneath us,

so let us hold onto one another,

for where we go to sleep

is not the same place we wake up.

Everything shifts  –  the Earth

tilts

 

we have only our the axis of our love

to stop us from spinning off into space.

 

You anchor me

with your eyes,

a touch, a word,

breathed in the night,

a smile at break of day.

 

We contain each other with such

lightness,

allowing our spaces to dance

against one another.

To make a third shape between.

 

I inhale you. You exhale me.

 

I slip into bed, blindly, seeing by heat,

and let the warmth you have left

envelop me.

 

Our souls fit together,

like our bodies do.

 

As though,

way back when

before the beginning,

we had been wrought as one,

then, broken apart –

to be finally,

blissfully –

joined once more.

 

The same light

shining through us both.

 

Love,

the home where we belong –

the door with our names on –

 

waiting for us to arrive.

 

FINIS

 

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 2010

First published in Soul of the Earth (Awen 2010) and soon to be featured in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring (Awen 2017).

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Soul of the Earth Awen 2010

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Breaking Light: part four

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iv

 

It is late. It is early.

 

We finally met

at Lammas –

when summer first seems to sense

its own mortality.

Ours is a late summer love.

Not the foolishness of Spring,

swept along by giddy lusts,

the chancy intoxication of the May,

nor the apparent glory of June,

when midsummer dazzles us

with its gaudy enchantment,

 

but a love of long shadows,

of languid contentment.

 

Ripening to prime –

we are ready for love’s press.

It insists we offer all.

What can be gained from

withholding the tiniest drop?

Pulp and pith and pip,

let the cloth of truth,

contain our allness.

 

Gladly we bring our bounty to share

to the harvest supper of the heart.

 

Arriving in splendour,

wearing our autumn like a crown,

we greet each other

at the end of a long road,

our harlequin robes

stretching behind us.

 

Stopping to let the sunset slip

like a mug of copper hops

down a thirsty throat

over the blue tapestry of hills

pegged to the sky by trees,

we give thanks for the abundance,

the riches of the year,

strewn before us

with such wild abandon.

 

Yet the thrift of Mother Earth

means nothing

is wasted.

 

All the ungathered,

unreachable treasure

that falls on the ground,

unpicked, to rot,

becomes the mulch

from which the future grows.

 

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 2010

Continued tomorrow

First published in Soul of the Earth (Awen 2010) and soon to be featured in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring (Awen 2017).

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Soul of the Earth Awen 2010

 

Breaking Light: part three

autumn sunrise

iii

 

It is late. It is early.

 

Lady Autumn

teaches us

the art of letting go,

as she performs her annual yard sale,

de-cluttering with a tut, a smile,

a shake of the head,

tidying away the toys of summer.

 

She sings as she sweeps –

her long skirts

layered with a patchwork of leaves,

gathering up all that we don’t need

in her wake.

 

Busily she insists

we put our house in order

before the harsher times ahead.

Her winter sister is not so sentimental

when she brings her black bag,

as bottomless as a December night.

 

Despite all we have done,

the gifts we have squandered,

her treasures plundered,

still the Earth

is beautiful.

 

Still the Earth

will forgive us.

Her compassion is endless,

and we will weep at her feet

before this is played out.

 

But first, a favourite vinyl crackles

to the centre.

The needle gathers dust.

With a melancholy pang

Lady Autumn revisits her old haunts,

her maiden places,

savouring the memory one last time

before letting it fade.

 

She presses the best

into the palimpsest of the past,

a bonfire for the rest.

Smoke curlews from the piles of leaves,

gathered into golden dragon hoards,

to be kicked –

and, for a moment,

we are as rich as bank robbers,

the folding gold falling around us.

 

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 2010

Continued tomorrow

First published in Soul of the Earth (Awen 2010) and soon to be featured in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring (Awen 2017).

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Soul of the Earth Awen 2010

Breaking Light: part two

first light

ii

 

It is late. It is early.

 

Lady Autumn is walking

with sloe-eyed grace

through our lives once again;

rose-hipped, withy-limbed,

bejewelled with blackberries like

tiny bunches of grapes,

ready to burst on your tongue,

lips, fingertips,

stained with juice;

rowan berries, hard as nipples;

elder berries glisten like spider eyes,

from boughs of yellow flames,

watching.

 

The forest floor

where we made love

sanctified by

your blood, my seed,

mingling with the soil.

Its rich earth of

fertile death

scattered with ash keys, acorns,

fur-flowered beechmast,

horse chestnuts, hard and smooth

in their spiky jackets

(like antiques packed in a sea mine),

the milky bullets of cobs,

walnuts ransacked by Ratatosk

buried in forgotten cists,

fungi erupting from another world,

like fish gasping for breath,

gills gaping.

 

I graze lazily through your edible forest  –

pore my hot breath into your jew’s ear,

rifle your King Alfred’s cakes

and penny buns,

devour your chicken-in-the-woods.

 

I trace the lace of your mycelia –

the wood’s lingerie. I yield

to your moreish morel,

drink champagne from your chanterelle.

You lick my slippery jack,

make my puff balls

explode.

 

Feral cry in the thicket,

the grunt of wild boar

snuffling out truffles,

the sow’s ear of his mate.

A roe deer freezes, wet nostrils twitch,

a flank shivers,

and it leaps into the wood’s legend.

 

The sunlight snags

on the canopy’s lattice,

the chlorophyll circuit-board

of a crimson leaf,

the abacus of dew

on a cobweb.

 

Nature’s astonishing

attention to detail

insisting

we notice

 

like an act of love.

 

I stroke your face

with a tuft of old man’s beard,

circumnavigate you with a feather,

all your inlets and promontories.

 

We cast a limpet shell

on the river

laden with our dreams

and laugh as it sinks.

 

Copyright ©Kevan Manwaring 2010

Continued tomorrow

First published in Soul of the Earth (Awen 2010) and soon to be featured in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring (Awen 2017).

https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Soul of the Earth Awen 2010

The Taliesin Soliloquies: Greyhound

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ll teach that young upstart,

this new dog’s got old tricks –

the fith-fath he fled with.

Long dog now am I,

deadly Sirius,

death at his heels,

snapping, slavering –

a knife thrust, forever forward,

fangs bared in tight death grin,

eyes on fire,

I shall never blink,

never lose sight of my prey.

As swift as a wisht-hound

running through the sky,

the night, my road,

harrowing souls who stray

into the wild-wood.

There is nowhere you can hide,

little hare,

no hollow or shadow.

No leverage, leveret.

Your scent leaves a ribbon of bright noise

my nose follows with ease.

I am drawing near,

I taste your fur

on my long tongue.

Little Gwion, you’ll make a toothsome morsel,

replace the potion you have stolen,

the awen usurped

from my son.

 

Hare-thief, there’s no taboo

that will stop me eating you,

the darkness to devour you

in one gigantic

gulp.

 

 

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 2017

way of awen by me

From ‘The Taliesin Soliloquies’, originally published in The Way of Awen: journey of a bard, O Books 2010; to be included in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring, Awen, 2017 https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Hare

The Taliesin Soliloquies: Hare

AbyssinianHare

Crazy-eyed,

I high-tail it

away from Ceridwen’s lair,

jink-jinking to

avoid my pursuer

snapping at my heels –

relentless as death,

inescapable as my shadow.

Heart beating its tattoo of flight,

legs thrum, a drummer boy’s sticks.

Through cwm, over bryn, cefn, coed,

the gaps between the awkward spaces,

through a hedge backwards, this-way-that –

a mad man’s mind.

Method to my erratic path,

yet always, her hot breath at my back.

Driven by the fire in my

stream-lined head, an arrow of fur,

Long ears swept back,

best paws forward. Rabbit foot, bring me luck.

Ablaze with awen,

The world transformed

into a landscape of scent and sound,

predator and prey. Forage, territory and fate.

Moon-boxer,

I must turn and face my foe –

run through the fire and be transformed.

Let the fith-fath change me.

 

Copyright © Kevan Manwaring 2017

way of awen by me

From ‘The Taliesin Soliloquies’, originally published in The Way of Awen: journey of a bard, O Books 2010; to be included in the forthcoming Silver Branch: bardic poems by Kevan Manwaring, Awen, 2017 https://www.awenpublications.co.uk/

Lighting Bríghíd’s Flame

 

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In the Old Chapel, St Briavel’s, Midsummer 2017. Photography by 2017

The inspiration for our new show – Bríghd’s Flame (we pronounce it ‘breed’) – came when Chantelle and I explored Ireland back in the summer of 2015. Our 2500 mile road trip (much of it on the back of my Triumph Legend motorcycle) took us to many places associated with Irish myths and legends: Croagh-patrick, Tara, Knocknarea, Carrowmore, Uisneach, Newgrange and Kildare. The latter inspired the spark of our show – to visit a site associated with the blacksmith goddess Brighid and the sacred flame of St Brigid was thrilling. As was the extra-ordinary ‘Cave of the Cat’, accessed via a small hole beneath a hawthorn tree, this intense, visceral place is associated with the Morrighan and boasts an ogham inscription in its lintel stone claiming it to be the burial place of the son of Medb, the great queen who haunted WB Yeats and whose mighty mound can be found dominating the coastline of his beloved Sligo. By the time we left Ireland we knew we’d create one of our distinctive ‘ballad and tale’ shows around the sites and their mythos. It would take a couple of years and alot of effort (far more than perhaps some realize), but we finally achieved this dream – on Saturday 24th June with the premiere of our show at ‘Tales of Witchcraft and Wonder’, a launch event organised by Inkubus Sukkubus for their new album, Belas Knapp, as the atmospheric setting of St Briavel’s, a haunted Norman castle deep in the Forest of Dean.  We started seriously discussing the show around Samhain, but it was at Yuletide that I came up with the post-apocalyptic framing narrative that would provide the ‘spine’ of the show, with its 4 main tales (Finn and the Salmon of Wisdom; Cuchullain and the Warrior Women; Oisín and Niamh; the Children of Lir – told uniquely in my way, with my words); 5 beautiful new songs and arrangements by Chantelle; new poems by yours truly; and incidental music on harp, bodhran and shruti box (once again by the talented Ms Smith). Both of us really pulled out the stops, creatively. Then there were the rehearsals, the costumes, the poster, the promotional copy … and the logistics of getting bookings and so forth. If it was all for one event it would have been too much really – insanity, even – but we have a small tour lined up and hopefully other dates that will materialize. St Briavel’s was the start – but what a start! It was great to finally share the show – and with such a well-informed, attentive, and appreciative audience. The Old Chapel looked fantastic – low lighting, candles, fairy lights draped from ancient beams … Atmosphere like that does half the work in a performance. But midsummer day was hot and there was no real seating in the hall until I gently insisted on some. Benches were brought in from the banquet room, but still it was standing room only for some. Yet the amazing Inkie audience stuck with us (and perhaps literally to each other)! Afterwards we got lots of great comments – such as ‘utterly amazing’; and ‘thank you – your stories unlocked the symbolism and wisdom for me’ – people had clearly ‘got’ the show and lapped up its magickal imagery, music, narrative and verse. We look forward to bringing Bríghíd’s Flame to more audience this summer and beyond.

 

***Thank you to Candia and Tony McKormack of Inkubus Sukkubus & our fellow Fire Springs Anthony Nanson and Kirsty Hartsiotis for providing support & a space to glow***

 

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Chantelle ready for action, St Briavel’s Midsummer 2017. Photo by K. Manwaring 2017

 

BRIGHIDS FLAME POSTER new

Forthcoming dates:

  • Druid Camp 27-29 July
  • New Forest Fairy Fest, 12-13 August
  • Everybody’s Reading Festival, Leicester, 30 September
  • Dorset Earth Mysteries, 7 December

For updates, see website: http://brighidsflame.co.uk/