Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Combe By Edward Thomas

The Combe was ever dark, ancient and dark.
Its mouth is stopped with brambles, thorn, and briar;
And no one scrambles over the sliding chalk
By beech and yew and perishing juniper
Down the half precipices of its sides, with roots
And rabbit holes for steps. The sun of Winter,
The moon of Summer, and all the singing birds
Except the missel-thrush that loves juniper,
Are quite shut out. But far more ancient and dark
The Combe looks since they killed the badger there,
Dug him out and gave him to the hounds,
That most ancient Briton of English beasts.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Landscape of the Daylight Moon by Jeremy Hooker

I first saw it inland,
Suddenly, round white sides
Rose through the thin grass
And for an instant, in the heat,
It was dazzling; but afterwards
I thought mainly of darkness,
Imagining the relics of an original
Sea under the chalk, with fishes
Beneath the fields. Later,
Everywhere upon its surface
I saw the life of the dead;
Circle within circle of earthen
Shells, and in retraced curves
Like finger marks in pale sand.

The print of a primaeval lover,
Once, climbing a dusty track,
I found a sunshaped urchin,
With the sun’s rays, white
With the dust of the moon.
Fetish, flesh become stone.
I keep it near me. It is
A mouth on darkness, the one
Inexhaustible source of re-creation.

A poem written about a chalk landscape

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Mountain Poems of Hsieh Ling-yün

Not a Chinese painting but one done by Heywood Sumner of the New Forest.

Climbing Green-Cliff Mountain in Yung-chia

Taking a little food, a light walking-stick,
I wander up to my home in quiet mystery,

the path along streams winding far away
onto ridgetops,no end to this wonder at

slow waters silent in their frozen beauty
and bamboo glistening at heart with frost,

cascades scattering a confusion of spray
and broad forests crowding distant cliffs.

Thinking it's moonrise I see in the west
and sunset I'm watching blaze in the east,

I hike on until dark, then linger out night
sheltered away in deep expanses of shadow.

Immune to high importance: that's renown.
Walk humbly and it's all promise in beauty

Poetry is a great healer of the soul, and reading Robert Macfarlane's, The Wild Places, I came across the Chinese poem above, to quote from the site the poem is taken...

"During the last decade of his life, living as a recluse high in the mountains of southeast China, Hsieh Ling-yün (385-433 C.E.) initiated a tradition of "rivers-and-mountains" (shan-shui) poetry that stretches across millennia in China and beyond, a tradition that represents the earliest and most extensive literary engagement with wilderness in human history."

The concept that flows through Ling-Hun poetry is of course echoed in Gary Syder's book - Mountains and Rivers Without End.

A fragment from Snyder's poetry, called "The Flowing.".

Head doused under the bronze
dragon -mouth jet
From a cliff
spring - headwaters, Kamo
River back of Kyoto,
Cliff-wall statue of Fudo
Blue-faced growling Fudo
Lord of the headwaters, making
Rocks of water
Water of of rocks