Monday, December 29, 2014

As I now breathe

[From: "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn"]

As I now breathe, I remember the world
when it shone bright, was gilded, pearled;
when silver were the swollen drops of rain
which fell like stars on the golden grain;
when trees danced glad, and the ancient moon,
when not so ancient, brought afternoon
to the shade of night; when mountains aloft
with hoar-heads shining, scraped the soft
and airy dome, which brimmed with wine,
decanted when the sky-gem rose to shine;
when gold of morning brought forth a song
from folk emerging in gladsome throng,
the citizens beholding with glittering eyes
the good world beneath the blazing skies.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The music of silence

[From: The Last Journal of Gwyllyn]

The music of silence fills the air
with a hushed and hidden minstrelsy
from far beyond the Farthest Sea,
from a continent bright and fair.

And in the darkness, light is seen
though veiled behind a shadow-cloak,
a robe of thundercloud and smoke,
obscuring its golden sheen.

But for now, the dark and silent night
embraces the soul in solitude
which awaits with patient quietude
the advent of morning light.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A ghost is in the apple grove

A ghost is in the apple grove,
a midnight shadow on the wind,
behind the house, in a gated cove
where fruitless branches shake and bend.

And a fragrance comes up from the sea
of cinnamon, clove and rosemary.

A raven watches from the wall
in calm repose, with gleaming eye;
from yonder wood his fellows call
but to them there he will not fly.

The air is rich with thyme and myrrh
admixed with sage and juniper.

Wolves are howling at the gate,
beneath a sky without a stain;
a candle-flame is burning late
through an upper windowpane.

Spikenard, mint are on the breeze
still shaking through the apple trees.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A dream

I dreamed of a deer, robust and tall,
with oak-branch antlers hoisted high;
his new leaves swung in gladsome winds
and glittered beneath the springtime sky.

He strode up to a rocky height
and viewed the world in morning light.

A green fire blazed upon the hills
bestirred by soft and whispered words
which told the tales of summer joys
that fill the hearts of singing-birds.

The sylvan realm had breadth and scope
which burgeoned bright with living hope.

But the beast grew solemn when the sun
reached its zenith-height at noon;
he shook his leaves, now touched with red,
and beheld an early-rising moon.

A coldness laced the golden wind;
he knew the day rushed to its end.

A pale fire smoldered in the west
as leaves and acorns from him fell.
A hoar-frost gathered on his coat
and he laid down in the twilight, frail.

He lowered his white and weary head,
with branches bare, and soon was dead.

I awoke with the sun ablaze in the sky
bursting anew with its joyful face;
glittering golden on many leaves
and filling the day with boundless grace.

Spring was bright, the sky was blue
and light was on the morning dew.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Suspend the stars

Suspend the stars, serene and bright,
around the moon with silver strings
and crown the trees like lofty kings
who rule in peace the realm of night.

Perfume the air with scent of pine
and send out moths abroad to dance
on powdered wings to find, perchance,
some blooming phlox or columbine.

Then stir the wakeful nightingale
to intone her fair and wistful song
and induce the stars to sing along
so to bid the setting moon farewell.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A prayer

[Composed by Fr. Cedric of Ulster (d. 1780)]

O grant us grace to laud Thy Power,
Thy Love, Thy Beauty, in every flower,
not seized and clutched, but simply seen,
then to lift up eyes still clear and clean
to praise Thee rightly from this shore
and beyond the Sea forevermore!

Monday, December 1, 2014


[From: "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn"]

The light of morning grew apace
and filled the chalice of the sky
with golden elixir for the eye
to brighten and heal with quiet grace.

A foul flood from the hills was streaming
turbulent in haste over many stones
in deep vales where a dark wind moans
until it appeared under daylight gleaming.

The taints of wormwood were then made sweet
and the cataract-clouds were dissolved away,
as when night yields to the flame of day
and the winter chill to the summer heat.

And at last when the torrent found the sea
and in quietude glittered clear and bright
beneath a calm and golden light,
the eye closed in tranquility.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The heavens of Atlantis

The girl stood placid and fair
in a desolate sort of way,
like the streets of Carthage
or the ruins of Pompeii,
gazing out upon the ocean
with her saltwater eyes,
upon the heavens of Atlantis
shining under the skies.

The Machines! the Machines!
now drowned and decayed
in their many-pillared temples
thrown down and unmade!
No more incense offerings,
no more nectar libations,
no more lofty choruses
of sweet supplications!

The seabirds are restless
and wail in the wind;
the sand-grasses rattle,
they shudder and bend.
The tide is now swelling
across the black shore;
the girl turns from the waters
to gaze on them no more.

Monday, November 24, 2014

In the throes of solitude

[From: Journeys at Eventide]

In the throes of solitude,
discerning elvish runes
hidden among the leafless branches
twining beneath the moons.

Beneath fair silver Änanfël
sailing out of the west
on sundered waves with star-spray
glittering upon each crest.

And also golden Ixilthwë
arising from the east
in vestiture of blazing clouds
as solemn as a priest.

At middle-night, the twain shall meet
in an alchemy of light;
the priest will board the shining ship
as stars burn golden-bright.

The trees will sway their barren limbs
toward the meeting moons,
and sleep will come in the mingled light
under a canopy of runes.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wandering an acre of the world

Wandering an acre of the world
where magnolias wear mighty beards
and tall firs shiver in benighted winds,
where mist-ships sail upon a sea of stars
and hurry past on their secret errands -
you and I, with half-shuttered eyes,
behold the dusty porcelain moon
sinking behind a boxwood hedge,
and move pale lips to the stanzas
of deep and solemn winter-songs.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A joy like sorrow

[From: "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn"]

The world is brown beneath the sky
and stark against such vivid blue;
a fragile breath is shaking through
the barren branches stretching high.

The hills that dwell out in the west
are burning now with orange fire,
fading flames of another pyre
built for day at night's behest.

The first stars and the rising moon
witness the dying of the day,
the conquering of the golden ray
which blazed so radiant at noon.

But a joy like sorrow finds me here
and dawns on me in dim twilight;
the darkness shines with hidden light
and speaks with silence in my ear.

For now I know I was never the one
who sought to pierce the skies above
and who quested for eternal love:
in myself I would have not begun.

But seeking, questing, comes a bliss,
serene and simple in the night,
through the tangled shadow-light,
to give my weary soul a kiss.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beyond the hills

[From: "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn"]

The hedgerows are silent, the gardens are grey,
the pageant of summer has faded away,
and cool gusts in the oak leaves sigh:
Even the loveliest flowers die.

Elm branches twine like wood-hag hands,
the geese flee south in solemn bands,
and blackbirds in their conclaves cry:
Even the loveliest flowers die!

And beyond the hills, a bell is ringing;
a hidden voice is softly singing
beneath a gathering grey-beard sky:
Even the loveliest flowers die.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In time of famine

[From: "Songs and Verses" by C. James Gwyllyn]

You feed me in time of famine,
you shine on me at night,
you come to me as hidden bread,
you come to me as light.

My fields are dark beneath the stars
and withered is the grain
from being bludgeoned by the sun
and forgotten by the rain.

O feed me in time of famine!
O shine on me at night!
O give to me your hidden bread!
O give to me your light!

Friday, November 7, 2014


[From: "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn"]

O what will the archaeologists find
sifting the silt-dust in my mind?
A monastery buried in the hills,
a cloistered box of cogs and wheels
left overnight in the pouring rain,
little souvenirs of forgotten pain:
a rusted half-penny, a twisted nail,
a toy sailing-ship without a sail,
beetle-leather armor and spider-silk,
an acorn goblet of moonlight milk,
wooden thoughts, wrought-iron dreams;
mansions built up with ryegrass beams;
white-onyx smiles, looking-glass eyes;
a clockwork crow that croaks and flies;
a rocking-horse rabbit, a porcelain frog;
an engraving of foxes chasing a dog;
some wild boar tusks, a skeleton hand
and an hourglass emptied of all its sand.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bruised by shadows

[From: "The Last Journal of Gwyllyn"]

A strange quietude now invades me,
walking beneath these sleeping skies;
a silver tangled mist pervades me,
confusing old and wearied eyes.

Shadows mingle and night conceives
dreams and whispers, skin and bones,
entwining boughs of withered leaves,
a world built of such brittle stones.

Through pine-nettles, wind is seething;
beyond the mist, the moon is bright.
I wander farther, brooding, breathing,
bruised by shadows through the night.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Little Patroness

[from: The Recollections of Jonathan Eastwick]


On one bright mid-autumn day,
after many days of grey,
I put my books and things away
and slipped out on my own.
     My work I put aside,
     routine habit I defied,
and I slipped out on my own.

The air was filled with golden light,
elms and oaks were blazing bright,
the world was glad with all its might
as I stepped along alone.
     Yellow leaves and red
     swung above my head
as I stepped along alone.


I strolled first down Magnolia Street
with cobbled bricks beneath my feet
and then turned onto Bracken Street
towards the graveyard there.
     Past a grand estate,
     through an iron gate,
I entered the graveyard there.

If I had to be a restless revenant,
Rose Hill I would choose to haunt;
but no one would I scare or taunt,
I would simply wander there.
     Among the old trees
     and the ossuaries
I would simply wander there.

The monuments of grey sandstone
with amber light at mid-day shone;
it seemed to me I was all alone
and could take a needed rest.
     It had been my aim
     to rest my frame
and so I took my rest.

Against a headstone I reclined,
the fretful world seemed far behind,
my troubles I put out of mind
and then drifted off to sleep.
     A gentle breeze
     was in the leaves
as I drifted off to sleep.


I dreamed of a small crowd on its way
towards me in the light of day
weeping under clouds of grey
bearing a coffin of wood.
     A mournful choir
     in black attire
bearing a coffin of wood.

Into the shadows I hid from sight,
but remained to watch, if I might,
the unfolding of this funeral rite
which was curious now to me.
     The one whom they bore
     and were mourning for
was curious now to me.

The procession came closer and I saw
that the coffin they carried was very small,
for a person no more than four feet tall
and so I shuddered where I stood.
     A sorrowful sight
     was a coffin so slight
and I shuddered where I stood.


They brought their burden to the very stone
where moments before I had reclined alone
- a rudeness I committed unbeknown! -
and to a hole there delved in the earth.
     A rectangle of soil
     by no sign of toil
had been somehow delved in the earth.

At that point I became aware
of a light about me bright and fair;
I turned to see close by me there
a girl of about six or seven.
     Watching the scene
     behind an evergreen,
a girl of about six or seven.

In a sleeping-gown she stood there,
her cheeks were flushed, her feet were bare
and white as snow was her long hair
- then she turned and looked at me.
     With cheerful eyes
     under cloudy skies,
she turned and looked at me.


A light was in her smiling face,
a profound joy, a tender grace;
a flower of the human race,
yet not quite of this world.
     I could tell this child
     who sweetly smiled
was not quite of this world.

Her rapt attention again she gave
to the solemn assembly at the grave;
I stepped towards her, feeling brave,
for with her I wished to speak.
     A luminous pearl
     was this little girl,
and with her I wished to speak.

Stepping on leaves as quiet as I could,
I drew quite close to where she stood;
then she spoke, as I hoped she would,
and pointed with her little hand.
     Towards the crowd
     in grief now bowed
she pointed with her little hand.

"See my mommy," the little girl said,
"my dear daddy too, and my uncle Ed,
all very sad because I'm...dead
- sad because I died so young."
     I thought I saw
     a teardrop fall
when she said "because I died so young."

But somehow her joy, which shone so bright,
was undimmed by grief and suffered no blight;
both mingled together with greater light,
and with greater beauty and joy.
     It did her endow,
     I know not how,
with greater beauty and joy.

And the radiance did not cease to grow,
but all around her did it hallow;
even the mourners, in the glow,
became joyful to behold.
     In the blessëd light
     they all shone bright
and were joyful to behold.

In the same light too, I knew at last
that these were glimpses of the past,
long shadows that the years had cast
now part of something bright.
     Shadows stark
     no longer dark
but now part of something bright.


I looked long at that little child
so innocent and undefiled,
and, with my mind quite reeling wild,
I asked her then a question.
     I had a thought
     and so I sought
to ask her then a question.

"You weren't yet eight at the time you died,
were you baptized?" (She nodded, smiling wide.)
"So, if to good teaching I abide,
you then flew straight to Heaven.
     Indeed is it true
     at death that you
then flew straight to Heaven?"

As if amused by my theological reasoning,
she gave a small laugh, and then began singing!
And in some far distance, bells were ringing
and all the clouds drew back.
     A heaven of gold
     was there to behold
when all the clouds drew back.

The graveyard then became a garden fair,
with bright flowers blooming everywhere
which filled with fragrance the golden air
shimmering all around.
     The light from the skies
     was in my eyes
and was shimmering all around.


Then to the girl I spoke once more,
telling her how I was wretched and poor,
but I longed to reach that Blessëd Shore,
would she pray for me from there?
     In my distress,
     be my patroness
and pray for me from there?

She smiled and whispered "yes" to me,
and then she herself made a plea:
would I please remember her family
whenever I said my prayers?
     Of course, said I
     until I die,
I would remember them in my prayers.

She said their surnames were Collins and Braeme,
and that "Katie" was her own given name;
I then assured Katie it would be my aim
to daily pray for them.
     Agreed were we:
     she would pray for me
and I would daily pray for them.

Beaming, she reached up a hand to me
and, in taking it, I was made to see
something akin to eternity
shining within her eyes.
     The skies above
     and endless love
were shining within her eyes.

And then I saw her hoar-frost hair
become brown ringlets as she stood there
crowned with many flowers fair
framing her joyful face.
     Blooms all bright
     in the golden light
framed her joyful face.

The light shone brighter from the skies
and overwhelmed my bedazzled eyes;
I saw the child began to rise
and then she disappeared.
     In my sight
     was blinding light
and the child had disappeared.


I awoke still reclining against the stone
still in Rose Hill, still alone;
high in heaven, the sun still shone
and with a hand I was reaching up.
     Towards the light
     shining so bright
with a hand I was reaching up.

I roused myself and stood upright;
the world was fair in the autumn light.
I turned around, and what caught my sight
was the stone on which I had leaned.
     An epitaph was there
     which I now share
from the stone on which I had leaned.

It read: KATIE COLLINS is buried here,
Our Only Child, Our Angel Dear.
And judging from dates which were not quite clear,
she was almost seven when she died.
     A century ago,
     and now I know,
she was almost seven when she died.

The headstones around hers bore the names
of her mother Elizabeth, her father James,
and other Collinses, and many Braemes,
her dearly beloved kin.
     And pausing there,
     I said a prayer,
for her dearly beloved kin.

I lingered some time in old Rose Hill,
wandering about until the day grew chill;
I strolled home with the sun behind a far hill
painting the sky with gold.
     A gentle breeze
     was in the leaves
and the sky was painted with gold.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

fevered dreaming

metal shavings, braided wire
magma apples, ocean fire
fossil hailstones from the sky
sad clowns trying not to cry
foxes eating desert sand
a keyhole carried in the hand
the sun grown weary of the heat
bison running down the street
a sky full of silver polka-dots
bonfires of plums and apricots
the blinding beauty of the clam
an uncooked slice of Christmas ham
faces covered with many words
discovering that bees are really birds
a river clogged with wooden dolls
leaves falling over waterfalls
watching an acorn as it dies
watching an acorn as it dies...

Friday, October 10, 2014

I was missing you

[From: "Songs and Verses" by C. James Gwyllyn]

I was missing you
among the stars
and the golden moon
at nocturnal noon.
I was missing you.
I was missing you
out in the groves
of almond trees
touched by a breeze.
I was missing you.

I was missing you
beyond the clouds
all shining bright
in the morning light.
I was missing you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

These cornfields

These cornfields now are withered seas
teaching autumn mythologies
with crackling voices to the crows,
their credo as the cold wind blows.

The sun bows to the harvest moon,
the star-lights will be kindled soon;
the wind blows through the golden light
now fading fading into night.

These cornfields study in their sleep
and rustle parchments that they keep,
until the dawn when autumn glows
and once again they teach the crows.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Holding my breath

Holding my breath...and the memories remain
of moonlight on the waves and the sky without a stain
and flowers of night I had never seen before
shining blue and white as they bloom upon the shore
then fade away, then fade away.

The summers die before they have a chance to live;
the hourglasses spill, they have no more time to give.
Our feet were washed by the waters of the sea;
the sounds of falling waves and your laughter next to me
now fade away, now fade away.

I am leaving the sand spilled wide across the shore
where flowers of night will be shining nevermore.
But recalling the light and the beauty left behind
and holding my breath I find they linger in my mind
then fade away, then fade away.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Xie and the Faerie-folk

~ A Tale in Seven Staves ~


Young Xie heard a lyric strain,
a music seeming magic-made,
between the drops of falling rain
plunging deep into ivy-shade.

Melodic voices among the trees,
and sweet beneath the autumn rain,
were mingled with varied minstrelsies
and stirred her heart with tender pain.

But heaven was draped in druid-cowls,
the world was close to daylight-death;
a cold wind blew with wolfish howls
and night crept near with seething breath.

Yet in that wild and shadowed wood,
she, with summer-golden hair
resplendent under woolen hood,
would seek the font of music fair.


Just beneath the forest-eaves,
she found a slender walking-trail
strewn with red and yellow leaves
leading down the woodland vale.

The notes grew keener in her ears
the further through the wood she strode;
they made her heedless of all fears
as on a gentle wind they rode.

Scarlet maples were dancing nigh,
firs were swaying in gladsome green;
pines were sweeping clean the sky
and glittering starlight could be seen.

And coming in time around a bend,
she beheld a warm and ruddy glow,
just off the trail, and so she grinned
and crept towards it soft and low.


A glen she found ablaze with light,
as bright as winter hearth-fires shine,
and there before her gaping sight
were throngs of persons small and fine.

All singing and dancing to a reel,
to flutes and fiddles in the open air;
laughing and capering in a wheel
round and round the clearing there.

She saw among them maidens fair
with hair as sun and skin as milk,
and beaming bright without a care
bedecked with flowers and finest silk.

They went round merrily arm-in-arm
with little fellows gnarled and bent
who, lacking every grace and charm,
yet frolicked with full abandonment.

Never had she seen in her nine years
such giddy legs and ludicrous poses,
such flapping arms and crooked ears,
such winking eyes and wrinkled noses!

And quite unknowing, she laughed aloud
and lo! the music and merriment fair
suddenly ceased and the entire crowd
turned and saw the young girl there!


Xie was startled and turned to flee;
but she heard a voice in kindness say:
"Come now, girl-child, come and see,
and tarry with us tonight, we pray."

And so, still dazed in her surprise,
she stepped down into the enchanted glen
where many strange faces with shining eyes
gazed on this child of mortal kin.

She saw him who had called her down;
he appeared to be their kindly king,
with a merry face under a golden crown,
and wearing a royal signet ring.

On his right arm was surely the queen,
so exquisite and regal in bearing was she;
the loveliest lady Xie ever had seen,
resplendent in all of her fair majesty.

"Tell us thy name," the king said to the child,
"thou with charm of the young mortal sort."
"Alexandria," she answered, timid and mild,
"but most just call me 'Xie' for short."

"Xie, my dear, thou hast brought us great joy,
for it has been now many a year,
since we have had either a girl or a boy
to come visit us humble folk here."

Xie smiled in the midst of that merry throng,
all festive in the bright ruddy light;
then they led her into their dance and song
which continued late into the night.


At the pinnacle of that marvelous night,
the queen sang an aria into the air,
and two owls entered the blazing light
carrying a gown exceedingly fair.

It was of white silk and ornaments of pearl,
and sewn intricately with glittering thread;
they flew with it over to the delighted girl,
and draped it over her bright golden head.

The gown covered fully her rustic brown dress,
her woolen green sweater and grey hooded-cloak;
she was then clothed as fair as an elven princess
there in the light under maple and oak.

They adorned her with many beautiful things,
with jewelry of a kind she never had seen:
with garnet bracelets, sapphire rings,
a necklace of beryl and aquamarine.

With delicate braids they plaited her hair,
and set diamonds in her locks of gold;
at last, they laid a circlet of silver there,
and she was a beauty indeed to behold.


Quite overwhelmed, Xie said: “My dear friends,
you have all been so generous to me;
and for such lovely gifts, I must make amends;
what do I have? now let me see."

Then to her throat she reached up her hand
and grasped a locket hanging there by a string,
a locket she once found on her family's land
and which she now held out to the king.

But the king and his folk frowned and recoiled
and all their faces were suddenly changed;
their eyes became fierce and with anger they boiled;
their expressions grew wild and deranged.

"How dare you!" yelled the king. "Impudent child!"
and then the radiant glen became dark;
but she could still see their eyes, all wicked and wild;
she could hear them start to snarl and bark.

She screamed and ran away as fast as she could
with the horde in pursuit close behind;
she plunged straight through the tangled wood
for the trail she was unable to find.

Thorns tore her clothes as further she flew,
the very trees sought to hinder her flight;
yet fear spurred her on and greater it grew
as she fled through the darkness of night.

Looking back, she caught glimpses of gaping maws,
of dreadful beings, all twisted and mean;
wicked eyes and faces, sharp teeth and claws,
like no creatures she ever had seen.

She heard them behind her snarling and growling,
and their slavering augmented her fears;
like wolves on the hunt, they were yelping and howling
so close it was hurting her ears.

But the end of the wood was just up ahead,
her escape seemed to be within sight;
she burst through the bramble and faster she fled
across the meadows asleep in the night.

But the horde held pursuit beyond the dark trees;
they closed around her and she began to swoon;
she collapsed to the ground as a sudden strong breeze
rushed past her there under the moon.


"Xie! Xie! Thank God you aren’t dead!
But you gave your old granny a fright!
Why did you make the bare earth your bed
and sleep out here all of the night?"

The fresh light of dawn was on the child's face,
as she opened her water-blue eyes;
a smile beamed down with grandmotherly grace
and behind were the bright morning skies.

"Oh granny! Last night...I went into the wood
and met some faeries who were friendly to me;
but I did something I think they misunderstood,
and then they turned on me mercilessly."

Xie shed a few tears and wiped them away,
then asked her granny how she liked her hair,
all braided and bright with a circlet which they
had bestowed on her when she was there.

"Oh Xie, it's nothing but a tangled mess,
with old leaves sticking out everywhere."
"Well then, do you like my pretty new dress?
Now isn't it exquisite and fair?"

Her old granny frowned as she looked at her
and Xie looked down at her own clothes too;
she saw just her old tattered dress covered over
with spider-webs glittering with dew.

"You must have gone walking in your sleep last night,
and wandered out into the wood;
but I'm glad your adventure has ended all right,
let's get inside now, I think we should."

"But don't you hear them now, laughing at us
from the edge of those nearest dark trees?"
"'Tis only crows, my dear, making a fuss
in the chill of this damp autumn breeze."

And indeed a multitude of coal-black birds
arose from the wood into the light of day,
and after circling around with cackling words,
they flew across the brown fields and away.