Thursday, August 14, 2008

A story that can never be told

The following poem has haunted my mind for a few days, it is a story that can never be told, a mystery, yet there is something poignant in the way that Snyder captured the archaeological story in a few simple words. Who was she, this person from 26,000 years ago, a shaman of the tribe buried with due honour and ceremony, attendants on either side. Perhaps this small trio of people were related, brothers and sister, caught by some fatal passing disease, and buried with many tears by their family. Maybe she was killed in some sacrifical honour, her attendants accompanying her to the spirit world. Tantalising in death, the history of old bones haunt our imagination, fleshing them once more, gracing their bodies with movement and speech I wonder what we would really be confronted by?

Under The Hills Near the Moravia River

She lay there midst
Mammoth, reindeer, and wolf bones;
Diadem of fox teeth round her brow
Ocher under her hips
26,640 plus or minus 110 years before 'now'.
Burnt reindeer-pelvis bone bits
in her mouth,
Bones of two men lying by her,
one each side.
Gary Snyder
And perhaps a few more words by Snyder on this cold August morning, reminding one of travelling and far off places, the following taken from Raven's Beak River At the End, in this poem he captures for a moment the old celtic enmeshing of nature, animals and the cosmic reality we sometimes forget.

Raven-sitting high spot
eyes on the snowpeaks,
nose of morning
raindrops in the sunshine
Skin of sunlight
skin of chilly gravel
Mind in the mountain, mind of tumbling water,
mind running rivers
Mind of sifting
flowers in the gravels
At the end of the ice age
we are the bears, we are the ravens,
We are the salmon
in the gravel
At the end of the ice age.

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