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[VI - XIV]

Gwyr a aeth ododin chwerthin ognaw.
chwerw en trin a llain en emdullyaw.
byrr vlyned en hed yd ynt endaw.
mab botgat gwnaeth gwynnyeith gwreith
e law.
ket elwynt e lanneu e benydyaw.
a hen a yeueing a hydyr a llaw.
dadyl diheu angheu y eu treidaw.Read more... )


Men went to Gododdin, laughter-inciting,
Bitter in battle, with blades set for war.
Brief the year they were at peace.
The son of Bodgad, by the deeds of his hand
did slaughter.
Though they went to churches to do penance,
The young, the old, the lowly, the strong,
True is the tale, death oer’took them.

Men went to Gododdin, with eager laughter,
Attacking in an army, cruel in battle,
They slew with swords without much sound
Rheithfyw, pillar of battle, took pleasure in giving.

Men went to Catraeth, swift was their host.
Fresh mead was their feast, their poison too.
Three hundred waging war, under command,
And after joy, there was silence.
Though they went to churches to do penance,
True is the tale, death oer’took them.

Men went to Catraeth, mead-nourished,
Sturdy and strong, it would be wrong should I not praise them.
Amid blood-red blades in dark-blue sockets,
The war-hounds fought fiercely, tight formation.
Of the war-band of Brennych, I would have thought it a burden,
to leave any in the shape of a man alive.
A friend I have lost; faithful I was.
Swift in the struggle, it grieves me to leave him.
The brave one desired no father-in-law’s dowry,
The son of Cian from Maen Gwyngwn.Read more... )
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Them and [uz] - Tony Harrison

for Professors Richard Hoggart & Leon Cortez

ai, ai, ay, ay ... stutterer Demosthenes
gob full of pebbles outshouting seas-

4 words only of mi 'art aches and ... 'Mine's broken,
you barbarian, T.W.!' He was nicely spoken.
'Can't have our glorious heritage done to death!'

I played the Drunken Porter in Macbeth.

'Poetry's the speech of kings. You're one of those
Shakespeare gives the comic bits to: prose!
All poetry (even Cockney Keats?) you see
's been dubbed by [Ls] into RP,
Received Pronunciation, please believe (Ls)
your speech is in the hands of the Receivers.'

We say ‘(Ls) not [uz], T.W.!’ That shut my trap.
I doffed my flat a's (as in ‘Flat cap’)
my mouth all stuffed with glottals, great
lumps to hawk up and spit out ... E-nun-ci-ate!

- Tony Harrison
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Tamed rock.
Millstone-grit - a soul-grinding sandstone.

Roof-of-the-world-ridge wind
And rain, and rain.

Heaven - the face of a quarry.
Oak-leaves of hammered copper, as in Cranach.

Grass growing on acid.

Wind. Cold. A permanent weight
To be braced under. And rain.

A people fixed
Staring at fleeces, blown like blown flames.

A people converting their stony ideas
To woollen weave, thick worsteds, dense fustians

Between their bones and the four trembling quarters.
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I met a man the other day—
A kindly man, and serious—
Who viewed me in a thoughtful way,
And spoke me so, and spoke me thus:

“Oh, dallying’s a sad mistake;
’Tis craven to survey the morrow!
Go give your heart, and if it break—
A wise companion is Sorrow.

“Oh, live, my child, nor keep your soul
To crowd your coffin when you’re dead….”
I asked his work; he dealt in coal,
And shipped it up the Tyne, he said.
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"Oh where ha'e ye been, Lord Randall my son?
O where ha'e ye been, my handsome young man?"
"I ha'e been to the wild wood: mother make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."

"Where gat ye your dinner, Lord Randall my son?"
Where gat ye your dinner, my handsome young man?"
"I dined wi' my true love; mother make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."

"What gat ye to your dinner, Lord Randall my son?
What gat ye to your dinner, my handsome young man?"
"I gat eels boiled in broo: mother make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."

"What became of your bloodhounds, Lord Randall my son?
What became of your bloodhounds, my handsome young man?"
"O they swelled and they died: mother make my bed soon,
For I'm weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."

"O I fear ye are poisoned, Lord Randall my son!
O I fear ye are poisoned, my handsome young man?"
"O yes I am poisoned: mother make my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wald lie down."
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I will tell you how it was. I slipped
into the hare like a nude foot
into a glorious slipper. Pushing her bones
to one side to make room for my shape
so I could settle myself like a child within her.
In the dark I groped for her freedom, gently teasing
it apart across my fingers to web across my palm.
Here is where our separation ends:
I tensed her legs with my arms, pushed my rhythm
down the stepping-stones of spine. An odd feeling this,
to hold another's soul in the mouth like an egg;
the aching jaw around her delicate self. Her mind
was simple, full of open space and weather.
I warmed myself on her frantic pulse and felt the draw
of gorse and grass, the distant slate line
at the edge of the moor. The air span diamonds
our of sea fret to catch across my tawny coat
as I began to fold te earth beneath my feet
and fly across the heath, the heather.
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Speak of the North! A lonely moor
Silent and dark and tractless swells,
The waves of some wild streamlet pour
Hurriedly through its ferny dells.
Profoundly still the twilight air,
Lifeless the landscape; so we deem
Till like a phantom gliding near
A stag bends down to drink the stream.
And far away a mountain zone,
A cold, white waste of snow-drifts lies,
And one star, large and soft and lone,
Silently lights the unclouded skies.
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For weeks and weeks the autumn world stood still,
Clothed in the shadow of a smoky haze;
The fields were dead, the wind had lost its will,
And all the lands were hushed by wood and hill,
In those grey, withered days.

Behind a mist the blear sun rose and set,
At night the moon would nestle in a cloud;
The fisherman, a ghost, did cast his net;
The lake its shores forgot to chafe and fret,
And hushed its caverns loud.

Far in the smoky woods the birds were mute,
Save that from blackened tree a jay would scream,
Or far in swamps the lizard's lonesome lute
Would pipe in thirst, or by some gnarlèd root
The tree-toad trilled his dream.

From day to day still hushed the season's mood,
The streams stayed in their runnels shrunk and dry;
Suns rose aghast by wave and shore and wood,
And all the world, with ominous silence, stood
In weird expectancy:

When one strange night the sun like blood went down,
Flooding the heavens in a ruddy hue;
Red grew the lake, the sere fields parched and brown,
Red grew the marshes where the creeks stole down,
But never a wind-breath blew.

That night I felt the winter in my veins,
A joyous tremor of the icy glow;
And woke to hear the north's wild vibrant strains,
While far and wide, by withered woods and plains,
Fast fell the driving snow.
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It was like a church to me.
I entered it on soft foot.
Breath held like a cap in the hand.
It was quiet.
What God was there made himself felt,
Not listened to, in clean colours
That brought a moistening of the eye,
In movement of the wind over grass.

There were no prayers said. But stillness
Of the heart's passions - that was praise
Enough; and the mind's cession
Of its kingdom. I walked on,
Simple and poor, while the air crumbled
And broke on me generously as bread.
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Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

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