Daily Archives: February 18, 2003

Oh Bard, Come Sing: the official Welsh meters

Oh Bard, release your sacred song
to heal these hurts and ways gone wrong! (cyhydedd fer)

Let loose thy harp strings, filled with untamed woe;
go deeply, cut to the heart –
For it is there our wounds start. (englyn penfyr)

Release from our lost stronghold
the strength of our hidden soul –
Let it our hearts console. (englyn milwr)

With words forged of the land and sea and sky,
let fly at disbelief;
Give to us no pause for grief,
Without giving, too, relief. (englyn unodl union)

Cleanse our souls with balanced hand,
so we may form a true land;
Purge our unspoken fears and mingled hate
That we may understand (englyn unodl crwca))
our place in this living world:
the grain of sand, and the pearl,
that connects us true and sure
to wisdom’s pure, hidden pool. (englyn proest dalgron)

Bard, give us light, burn us through
until we each have had enough;
for in great darkness we have trod
and now must seek the morning. (englyn lledfbroest)

Give rise to winds and change this weather,
teach us hope, that we can never
let loose of this life’s bright tether –
tell us this gloom won’t last forever. (englyn proest gadwynog)

Softly, let your song uncoil
and fill our eyes with salt tears;
anoint our heroes with oil,
and give them praise through the years. (aydl gywydd)

Gently, play your harp anon,
and give us dreams to build on;
Let there be Music and song
to give us back what is gone: (cywydd deuair hirion)
a rousing tune,
of earth and moon,
to guide us all
from this great fall
and with its song
help us belong. (cywydd deuair fyrion)

If we are young, or aged with years,
if simple, elegant or wise,
far or near, to each one sing
of peace, and harmony give voice,
that our life’s spirit may rejoice,
and see beauty in all things. (cywydd llosgyrnog)

For dark the night
that finds us here,
and none too clear
the path ahead –
Our rage now builds
against cruel fate
and will not wait
for dawn’s bright tread. (rhupunt)

Teach us of patience through this gloom,
our minds are filled with pending doom;
with no compass we cannot steer,
so dark fear rules our broken hearts. (byr a thoddiad)

Remind us of our human need,
to reach out, healing those that bleed;
and our gifts divine,
let us intertwine –
pour your wine;
our souls, feed. (clogyrnach)

For in these dark days, we must all think
that together, we shall stand or sink;
and in these hours, here upon the brink,
there is not time to guess, or to blink –
we must find a well and share this drink,
reach out in brotherhood and relink. (cyhydedd naw ban)

So Bard, speak out strong
your healing in song!
Correct us if wrong
and give us aid.
Sing us your refrain
of joy and of pain,
and help us contain
what fear has made. (cyhydedd hir)

For we must not hide from the coming day,
locked away, far from the living earth;
The whole of humanity must be joined,
and each value the coin of rebirth. (toddaid)

And in your song, Bard, let us be cleansed;
let us see truth anew through your lens.
Help us to seek balance among new friends,
and work as a whole to make amends. (gwadodyn)

For each is to blame for this darkness –
each sees in themselves not a weakness,
but thinks they are chosen, blessed and more,
and justice is left out by the door.
Each border and boundary marks us,
and gives us each excuses for war. (gwaydodyn hir)

So comfort us not with worn, false pretense,
but send us our disenfranchised ones hence,
let us hear their voiced rebel dissent,
and remind us of truths, self-evident –
for we have come too far along this path
using ignorance as our sole defense. (hir a thoddaid)

Then sing ye, Bard, hold back naught –
show us what our seed hath wrought;
this silence will inform us not
of the heart’s cause we forgot.
Show mercy to those who fought;
Give thanks to those who peace brought.
We listen! We who are now caught
and lost in this evil plot. (cyrch a chwta)

We need to hear
where we have strayed;
We are afraid –
you must be strong.
Now, from our fear,
where dreams die hard,
we beg thee, Bard:
release thy song! (tawddgyrch cadwynog)

16 SEP 2001

My last poem of the day reminded me, in its rallying cry to the world’s poets and singers, of a piece that I wrote shortly after the 9/11 tragedy. I am a Druid by religion, a Musician by vocation, a Philosopher by inclination, and a Bard by sheer determination.

While I am far from a reconstructionist (meaning I do not think it practicable or useful to reconstruct the practices of an earlier culture in order to merely mimic the way that that culture approached their spirituality), there are a number of things about the Celtic peoples of the past that to me are very powerful. Primary among these things is that the poets of the Celtic peoples had real influence and a kind of power to direct the culture. People who were able to connect with the spirit of the world and distill that experience in verse, narrative or other poetic means were revered and treasured. I am saddened that in our culture today this is not also the case. But I am hopeful that this too shall pass.

After the tragedy of September 11, I thought it was high time that the bards began to assert their rightful place in helping the healing process, in directing our future evolution, and in guiding those who sought after truth and wisdom. I composed a poem of twenty-four stanzas, with each stanza using a different one of the twenty four “official” Welsh bardic meters, that I hoped would offer some small start in that process. It certainly has focused my attention. I hope that it finds you, singers of songs, and dreamers of dreams, well and in good spirits.

The Siren’s Song

Like Odysseus, our great commander in chief
(who likes his reports and his facts just in brief)
has ordered himself lashed and tied to the mast,
and in the ears of his councilors, wax plugs made fast

so he can go forth and destroy his named foe
without hearing anti-war Sirens scream “no!”
(at least, though he’ll hear them, he will not be swayed,
for his eyes are trained on fortunes to be made)

And the millions of Sirens, deprived thus of voice
will be faced with a terrible, depressing choice:
to admit defeat, and crawl under their stones,
or watch as the war machine destroys their homes.

For me, though I know that my song goes unheard
by those who hang on our brave leader’s each word,
and often gets noticed as “bleeding heart” stuff
(which can make those brown-shirt boys act pretty rough)

I shall sing it out loudly and hope that out there
are enough others who do not say “laissez faire”
but seek for the truth without question or pause
and only want war for a more noble cause

And as for Odysseus, let him go lame
There strapped to the mast in his imbecile game
I did not elect him my hero in chief
Nor do I think his acts reflect my belief

In a nation’s nobility, part of the whole
where although a great people, we do not control
the fate of the planet with missiles and threat,
but work hard for world peace, and do not forget

that absolute power corrupts absolute
and turns politicians into lying suits
that make long careers out of power and greed,
but should be but servants, who seek what we need.

Odysseus, hero? This Siren thinks not,
and sings to avert him and his evil plot;
And though he ain’t listenin’, perhaps someone will
and sink his foul ship before he does more ill.

I’m not saying kill him, or any such dreck,
nor sabotage his machine, causing a wreck;
Just sing, all you Sirens, as loud as you can
until perhaps we can stun sense in the man.

18 FEB 2003

Random Musings

At the volta of the delta,
stuck in indecision’s swelter,
I released the muse and felt her
slip away.

Though I thought my words would melt her
as they tumbled, helter-skelter,
she instead preferred a shelter
from the fray;

and in silence there she knelt, her
bright eyes burning like a smelter,
while I played my ace, and dealt her
two and treys.

18 FEB 2003

The Wind in the Willows

This week’s assignment at the LJ community “Writing 101” was to use at least 7 of the following 10 words (alphabetical, chaos, tool belt, bloviate, crux, sinner, marshmallow, dramatic, tissue, sympathetic) in a piece of writing. Seems like a very strange set of words, but here’s what I came up with:

I can bloviate with the best of them,
strike a sympathetic chord now and then
by appealing to the soul’s great chaos
with dramatic gusts of clever wordplay;

but the poet’s tool belt also includes
a set of pruning shears, for brevity
often leads much more quickly to the crux,
cutting through the soft marshmallow tissue

of the sinner’s world (burnt and hard outside,
but jellied and spineless on the inside)
with the turn of an alphabetical
blade; and this small incision can make all

the difference. Sometimes, even a small fragment
is the most dangerous part of a storm.

18 FEB 2003