Rhiannon, it is your presence
That brings me here
Not to meet you, for you are always near,
But to greet you in this special place
Set up for you to mark your presence
In my life.
I feel you close; your hair,
Your leather harness as you ride
And I ride with you, near and far;
As you approach, go by, and onward,
Pass to Otherness yet remain
A living presence to my senses
Even when far – never more
Than a breath away from here.
A stillness and a quietness of contemplation suddenly illuminated by a flash of brightness,
a familiar shift into vision:
I get a sense of you passing, your horse stepping on
And you wearing not the golden silks of the story
But a leather surcoat that is tangible, its scent and its texture
As I follow, not on horseback but on foot, and you remaining
Just as the story has it, the same distance in front of me
Though I walk and you ride.
Then at my call
You turn and smile : like the lifting of a veil it is to me
Before you ride on leaving me the gift of your presence
In the still air that your passing troubled and which now
Contains you and is contained by you in one world
And in the other.
Hold the stone tight in your hand
Hear it sing, the singing stone
Hear her birds singing sweetly
In the high notes; in the low notes
Croaking, cawing. Modulations
High to low :
The stone is hot
The stone is cold
The stone .....
It has a life of its own, leaves your hand
When you have heard what you will hear
Then only questions:
Where is the stone now?
Why does the song fade
Where does the horse ride over the sea?
This now all there is to hear:
Hoofbeats on the waves of the sea,
Gulls calling, gulls calling
No more sweet sounds, no more harsh sounds
Woven together by her birds
But the gulls still calling, still calling
Far out over the empty sea.
So the vision fades, the music segues
To silence, to an echo in the mind,
On the wind, caught in the sound of the waves.
Yet still there’s a presence, sensed by my side,
With me always, never absent, a witness
To visions, singing birds, passing horses
That come and go between the worlds.
Dark elderberries hang on twisted boughs
Unpicked and shrivelled,
Bare twigs twist to point the way
That turns upon itself a shadow veil
Shielding the world she is leaving behind
As she rides the grey mare
Fading to grey mist for a season
Seeking her fair form far away
Where he expects her, her shadow lord
Conjuring the woven ways
Through mists of his own making
Shaping a path through shapeless drifts
Each one receding through layers of world
Wider to bring her to world’s end:
To not-world’s becoming.
Another watches her go as strewn leaves lie
On sodden forest floors
Bereft of shelter, mysteries
Of dappled green depth emptying.
Samhain Scene : From a cover for The Waxing Moon by Pat Blackmore
Rhiannon - it is in the darkness that you ride
across the plains of Annwn - for us here
it is the darkness of Winter’s night
but I see you there, your horse
pacing the wind, in a mist of deep burgundy.
If you were to take me now,
up onto your steed
we would fly across the plain,
hooves barely touching, the landscape
slipping through that mist so that
I can see nor feel any thing
but the sense of you there before me
astride the horse; and the mist
drifting across the shifting ways
imperceptibly from there to here.
‘... dyuot tri ederyn, a dechreu canu udunt ryw gerd’
“... three birds came and began to sing a song to them, and all the songs they had ever heard before were unpleasing compared to that song. They had to look far out over the waves to see them but they were so clearly present to them as if they were with them.”
Birds of Rhiannon singing, where sea meets sky,
A shifting border at the merging of worlds
Their littoral music like the tides on the shore
Ebbing and flowing onto the land, into the air;
Cloudscapes of sound, now drifting, now clear
Like the horse she rides: now here, now there;
The boundaries of time, of place, don’t cohere
On the island of Gwales on the sea, in the air.
The company holds in a vision somewhere,
A blissful communion, a binding of hearts,
Until a hand reaches out to open the door
And the song melts away in a breaking wave
So the land and the sea and the sky
Take their place in the world once more.
“When they looked through the door all the losses they had ever suffered fell upon them ..... as if they were waiting to meet them.”
Quotations from the Second Branch of the Mabinogi. The company returning from Ireland with the head of Bran spend eighty years on the Island of Gwales, though when they return they are no older and no time has passed in the world they left to go to the island.