Posts tagged wales

Love Never Fails – Corinthians

Irish Sea from Mount Snowdon

Irish Sea from Mount Snowdon

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV) 13

Mount Snowdon from Nantlle Valley

Mount Snowdon from Nantlle Valley

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Moss Banks and Fading Heather

Summers Coming!

Summers Coming!

This poem is a gift to all those still living through winter, summer is ever on the way!x

The steaming moss banks and fading heather,
The land gently sloping away;
The call of sky larks hung in morning splendour
Breaking through the new day haze.

The lightening greens of summer promise,
The aching wait for the first fair day;
The coming of the heat wave and ice creams,
The loosening of our island ways.

The startled sheep as trains pass by,
Smoke clouds cloak holiday makers and sighs,
The people clutching hold of valleys,
Carving paradise into the hills.

The quietening of the countryside,
The wind is seldom raised to a breeze;
The snoozing in meadows and riverbanks,
The laughter over a picnic tea.

The dark water marks of winter recede,
The light comes pouring through;
Stride emboldened over dip and dale,
Deep in forests along new found trails.

There is a palpable ease
When the trees sway listless under brightened leaves;
There is a sense of inner peace
When the sun kisses our milky skins.

There is a rising of our dreams
As we are ironing this crease,
Where nature is a friend not foe
And each life a legend to behold.

May we harvest the essence of these times,
Store its energy as precious seeds inside;
Mark this very day as the tidal reverse,
A chorus springing straight from the heart.

We are arm in arm enraptured
By these early summer chapters,
Devoid of precious, sullied fears,
At this blessed time of year.

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To the Island

Bardsey Island, North Wales

Bardsey Island, North Wales

I swam to the island to sit on the rocks,
Exploring my physicality
I dissolved into the ocean as salt.
A simple organism awash with instinct,
Riding breakers to the shore.

When my pencil is tied to the mind,
It is stifle and contrived; no moon strung current.
Emotions torment expression and
Dead ends are easily unearthed.

So, to the islands I will go,
There to cultivate passionate uncertainty,
Turn and stride in opposite directions,
Unshackled from corrugated corruptions.

No fear of excommunication or radical peculiarity,
The human pack is easily dealt,
Material ghosts haunting the spirits of the ancients.

I shall sit with the stranded seaweed
And interpret the coming of a bleak autumn noon,
My propositions seem at home in this roaring wind.

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For Lovers Peninsula

In simple symmetry our bodies meet and spark

An arabesque dance beneath

Warm woolen blankets of ecstatic potential.

 

Disrobe; each swimming movement a gift of subtly unique;

A union of senses, a lungful of forest fragrance in times crooked branches

Untraceable.

The vestiges of Shangri-la still burn up ashen,

Close to source and promise.

We smear our faces in such darkness

To lie unmoved and universal beneath stars.

 

You, the open book, the breaking light and the darkness

Between hearts and moths,

Hidden from precious gorges

Within our sanctuary of rocks and sand.

 

I, the fractured salt in ocean spray and the crystal breeze that seeks;

The sins we revel within to hide,

The stamping breath on callous chest,

The dormant, tidy seed.

 

How can we learn to pour through these fearsome tempests,

The holes we dig, the raging Celtic seas?

 

Together, we recline incandescent and practiced,

The rising emotion tickled pink by the ferocity of the felling tides

And the beauty stored within a formless

Yet flickering offshore light.

 

An abandoned lighthouse scars the lovers peninsula,

Sacred land of ruins and mountain ponies.

Off its craggy cliff;

Rowing aimlessly to make my waves

Across the glittering depths of unknown truths.

 

 

 

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Bardsey Island – The Island of 20,000 Saints

Yesterday we walked around the northern coasts of the Llyn Penisula (North Wales), braving the high winds and feral seagulls.  There is something quite dramatic about  the Llyn, with the trio of mountains (known as ‘The Rivals’) forming a gateway to a landscape dotted with remnants of ancient settlements and worship.  It seems that each time I visit the Llyn I am drawn deeper into its story.

At the tip of the Llyn Penisula we find Bardsey Island and there is definitely something about Bardsey.  In English its name refers to an island of bards, in Welsh (Yns Enlli) it suggests an island in the currents.  It sits like a small jewel off the tip of the jagged coast line and has been inhabited since neolithic times.  Bardsey has been a pilgrimage site for many years, three trips to Bardsey was the equal of a trip to Rome.  A hermitage has stood here since the earliest days of Christianity in Britain, although it has been knocked down a few times along the way.  Brave and devout souls floated over from France and Ireland on rudimentary rafts to preach the words they regarded to be true and lead this wild and untamed island nation away from sin, towards redemption.  These remarkable old saints, hermits and pilgrims were very wise, putting a little ocean between themselves and their rabid flock (although that didn’t help when the vikings showed up!).

The history of this isolated retreat is fascinating, its location stunning, but as usual, the myths and legends are what sets it apart and fuels the imagination to imbued a large rock with magical properties and some intangible, mystical allure.  20,000 saints are said to be buried on the island, making the soil rich and fertile.  It has even been claimed that Prince Arthur is buried in a cave there.  To get there, you still need to call a local chap in a small fishing boat to take you there and hopefully back.  If the weather flares up, you can be stranded on the island, where there is still no electricity.  It suggested that you draw up a will before visiting Bardsey, it is said that the Llyn extends into the ocean just as life extends into the unknown emptiness and once we have reached Bardsey, we are relieved of earthly cares (meaning we are now number 20,001).

What can be said about the allure of Bardsey, it seems so close from the shore, we feel that we could touch it, except it is far enough away for us to fall and perish in the fierce waves of the Irish Sea.  I see Bardsey Island as a metaphor for our spiritual journey through life, as we build a bastion from rocks and earth to hide us from the endless waves and commotion, deep inside our soul is ever drawing us deeper towards harmony, as we venture out into the raging oceans of calm and set sail into the blissful unknown.  One pilgrim wrote that Bardsey is “the land of indulgences, absolution and pardon, the road to Heaven, and the gate to Paradise” and on a day like yesterday, I can see why.

I have included some photographs and poetry that I hope captures something of these sentiments:

 

Bardsey Island in the distance

Bardsey Island in the distance

Gorse and Heather

Gorse and Heather

There is an island there is no going
to but in a small boat, the way
the saints went, travelling the gallery
of the frightened faces of
the long-drowned, munching the gravel
of its beaches. So I have gone
up the salt lane to the building
with the stone altar, and the candles
gone out, and kneeled and lifted
my eyes to the furious gargoyle
of the owl that is like a god
gone small and resentful. There
is no body in the stained window
of the sky now. Am I too late?
Were they too late also, those
first pilgrims? He is such a fast
God, always before us, and
leaving as we arrive.

There are those here
not given to prayer, whose office
is the blank sea that they say daily.
What they listen to is not
hymns, but the slow chemistry of the soil,
that turns saints’ bones into dust,
dust to an irritant of the nostril.

There is no time on this island.
The swinging pendulum of the tide
has no clock; the events
are dateless. These people are not
late or soon; they are just
here, with only the one question
to ask, which life answers
by being in them. It is I
who ask. Was the pilgrimage
I made to come to my own
self, to learn that, in times
like these, and for one like me,
God will never be plain and
out there, but dark rather, and
inexplicable, as though he were in here?

“Pilgrimages” by R. S. Thomas

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And that’s why I have to go back
to so many places in the future,
there to find myself
and constantly examine myself
with no witness but the moon
and then whistle with joy.
ambling over rocks and clods of earth,
with no task but to live,
with no family but the road.

Pablo Neruda

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We passed the ice of pain,

And came to a dark ravine,

And there we sang with the sea:

The wide, the bleak abyss

Shifted with our slow kiss.

Space struggled with time;

The gong of midnight struck

The naked absolute.

Sound, silence sang as one.

All flowed: without, within;

Body met body, we

Created what’s to be.

What else to say?

We end in joy.

The Moment – Theodore Roethke

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Heather Valley Ramble

View from The Rival, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales

View from The Rivals towards Snowdon, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales

My path rises through purple heather
At each bluff the same path rotates;
Winds and writhes, a noble king snake.
In diamond forms this path holds close
To the contours of a ragged coast
And empty deserts not far.

This route that divides the solidity,
In waves of rocks and moss and the crushing awe
Of mighty mountain peaks
From the streams below, high up in the supernatural
I tread.

We are living as branches and leaves
Alive together in one great tree, rooted
Aside this old heather hill
Where I once lived for the shortest of times,
A fleeting heartbeat of life,
Blinking as a child
And laying down fresh roots in acid soils
Amongst clouds tinged with
Wild and violet love
And the roaring storms and
Golden sunsets at the threshold
Of heavens open door.

Rambling blindly on over wilderness landscape
That offers greater melody in each step,
High in the elemental chorus
That takes me further from what I know, from
The black mirror.
Shadows loom larger and late sunlight
Glints in puddles thick of age,
Nameless again,
With wild flowers stuck to the soles my boots.

Body a lead weight anvil in valleys
Forged by giants
With mighty blows of the steel hammer.
This sunken expanse
With packs of feral sheep grazing on
Deeper shades of green
And a dead fox hung on a fence
As a warning to nature,
It’s bronze coat is coarse and fading.

I am electric out here with the sun on my back,
Warming my spine and opening my voice.

Whistling along
With the birds of prey, their
Talons clasping wires
And the smoke that rises from farmers bonfires;
Over scrap metal and great thistles
Woolly and white,
Sharp thorns mellowed by silent eyes.

If you stand and look, for just long enough,
You’ll see the old gypsies and ponies
And the chattering in tongues
And the old stone walls and great burdens that
No man could own.

Where each grass blade cuts a divide and
Pebbles form great oceans,
Far from the rules of the sane
And forgotten rituals.

I am carved out of this scenery,
Only my shadow reminds me that I’m here,
Involved and fleeting
Like a trick of the light in this
Cosmic breeze.

Each step I take forward I’ll only take back,
Because something unknown
Is breathing life into my lungs.
Who could this be?

A lonesome wanderer caught up in the
Heather thicket,
Where swallows march on high
Trailing vapour lines to peaks,
Where still nobody stands.

Overlooking Trefor, The Rival, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales

Overlooking Trefor, The Rival, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales

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The Stone Circle

Nantlle Ridge - Snowdonia, North Wales

Nantlle Ridge – Snowdonia, North Wales

The key hangs from my neck
It swings with every step, an unborn
Fire lights my heart
That keeps the path from dark.

With great mystery about my mind
A trail of whispering seeds I find,
Only to walk on through burnt heather
That marks the struggle of mankind.

Forgotten,
Cold winds on my cheek
Awaken, the clouds that
Play with light;
That toy with shadows
That distinguish the distant
Edges of my life.

The floating raven marks the line,
Calling to the old land below.
Behold; in every rock a face
And each stone a soul.

The soft moss underground,
Lichen hints of colours to be found,
Which cushion the sound of speaking hills,
A blanket for a burial mound.

There is a broken egg shell
By the wild flower grave
And an old man whistles in the day
For his friends now further on.

A white cottage stands out
Like a pimple on this place,
Soils humming gently
A tune
Of other times lived in grace.

I am carried by these paths,
Lines drawn
Deep in my soul
Forming patterns within shapes
That one day I may call
Home.

Settling into pristine solitude
With the scent of
Broken earth
Still lingering in my vision
Of greater hands at work.

For the veil of darkness
Falls too quickly to
Forget,
A full moon that lights
One day lived without sunset.

Nantlle Ridge, Snowdonia, North Wales

Nantlle Ridge, Snowdonia, North Wales

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