These are disordered and disorderly thoughts that are pressing themselves to share with you, and have been doing so for some time. I have been distracted – illness, family , restlessness – the ordinary consequences of being human. Half a century has passed since I landed here – and strangely I feel as new and strange and unfamiliar as that birth must have seemed to a tiny creature unused to light and air . For some odd reason I laboured under the delusion that some sort of sense would ultimately dawn upon my consciousness, there would unroll some measure of meaning amongst the maelstrom of existence. I don’t think I am going to discern it if there is. So I continue to hop through the pattern of my days, bringing to them any sense of fulfilment and pleasure and meaning I can. Probably as you do too. Anyways, I present these in no particular order, and offer them with no promise of enlightenment. I just like them, and thought you might too.
Live your ecstasy amongst the dog eared maps of desire,
Search for the glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask
Amongst the extraordinary in plain sight.
Existence is eternal but life has end.
The Ways We Touch
Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism
is always a sign of things no ears have heard,
no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets
I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre,
Which will last to the end of the world.
My patron is Elphin…
I know why there is an echo in a hollow;
Why silver gleams; why breath is black; why liver is bloody;
Why a cow has horns; why a woman is affectionate;
Why milk is white; why holly is green;
Why a kid is bearded; why the cow-parsnip is hollow;
Why brine is salt; why ale is bitter;
Why the linnet is green and berries red;
Why a cuckoo complains; why it sings;
I know where the cuckoos of summer are in winter.
I know what beasts there are at the bottom of the sea;
How many spears in battle; how may drops in a shower;
Why a river drowned Pharaoh’s people;
Why fishes have scales.
Why a white swan has black feet…
I have been a blue salmon,
I have been a dog, a stag, a roebuck on the mountain,
A stock, a spade, an axe in the hand,
A stallion, a bull, a buck,
I was reaped and placed in an oven;
I fell to the ground when I was being roasted
And a hen swallowed me.
For nine nights was I in her crop.
I have been dead, I have been alive.
I am Taliesin.
Eleven medieval Welsh tales collectively referred to as the Mabinogion have been widely influential providing the basis of much European and world literature including Arthur and Merlin. In the mid 19th century Lady Charlotte Guest published her translation of 11 medieval Welsh folk tales under the title The Mabinogion,ironically incorrect but used ever since, from when the tales came to prominence. They are concerned with the themes of fall and redemption, loyalty, marriage, love, fidelity, the wronged wife, and incest set in a magical landscape corresponding geographically to the western coast of south and north Wales,in which white horses magically appear, giants, beautiful, intelligent women and heroic men.
I love the lyrical quality of Ifor Williams translation above, a reknown Welsh scholar who made Old Welsh his main field of study.
Hans Simon Holtzbecker was commissioned over a decade to produce paintings for Duke Frederic III of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf in 1649 of the beautiful plants and flowers in the gardens at Gottorf’s castle. What we have now is a wonderful restoration project that allows us the opportunity to see the four volumes of work.
There are 365 pages detailing 1180 illustrations and they have been restored by the conservators at SMK,the National Gallery of Denmark. What an absolute joy! And a definite candidate for my next project, there will definitely be one of my hand made books showing off these beauties. I think I may decide to show the illustrations as they appear – unadorned by any text. Normally I am inclined to complement either text such as one of Eliot’s poems with illustration, or illustration with complementary poetry or quotation. This volume may simply be a small tribute to the Gottofer Codex and simply be a number of selected pages from it. Sometimes less is more.
For more information on the restoration project and the Gottofer Codex, here is a link that should take you there.
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
From ‘The Little Gidding ‘ , the last of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.
Image Deborah Anne Corr- Please do not copy without permission