Winter Ride







Fay bells chime. You ride a pale horse tonight.
My white mare pines for infinite horizons.

From this false security’s plastic peace
I breathe a prayer for ecstatic release.

Wrenched like tendons, reality is severed.
You open a snow storm, marvel and terror,

suburb stripped bare, hung trees and glittering ice,
a spectral host bathed in sweeping starlight.

Some people don’t see them. The rest run scared.
With my reckless steed I join the nightmare.

Our heart beats quicken to Annwn’s dread trance.
Street lamps flicker. Roofs slip into the distance.

Fairy lights and festive chants spread the county
from Blackpool Tower to Winter Hill, bright fountains

dissolve to torch parades. The present falters
revealing a past of village and bonfire,

chill chapped hands, hungry gatherings at cauldrons,
a labyrinth of padways mazed across Pilling

buried by snow fall, entombed beneath glaciers.
A cold unbearable sets in to kill.

And I fear I’m trapped in the Age of Ice
on the day of doom at the end of time

I cannot move my frozen mind. I scream
“Why? Winter King, bear me to these extremes?”

Your look commands; survey this fragile land,
ice crafting the mythos you toil to grasp,

reshaping the hills, renaming the towns,
creating the isle you know as Britain.

Wild laughter rings from the hollow landscape.
The fate of worlds tilts on a teetering brink.

I see your task, unruly guardian
of streaming vast ancestral tradition.

History rushes back and my course is clear,
My return to Penwortham swiftly steered,

shaking off snow, flexing my cold fingers,
I whisper thanks for your winter visions.

2 thoughts on “Winter Ride

  1. lornasmithers says:

    * Gwyn ap Nudd is known from ‘The Mabinogion’ and ‘The Black Book of Carmarthen as a hunter / warrior deity and protector of the spirits of Annwn. He is later associated with Glastonbury Tor, becoming known as King of the Fairies and leader of the wild hunt. His role as Winter King is a later attribution found in Robert Graves’ ‘The White Goddess.’

  2. Gwynn ap Nudd says:

    I really love this poem.
    It speaks of midwinter and of enchantment and there is a sense of night time excitement and adventure in the ‘Winter Ride.’
    I want to share a few thoughts that came to me on reading this work.

    The poem starts with your riding on a white mare to the sound of the ‘fey (=fairy) bells’ chiming.
    Immediately I was drawn to think of that nursery rhyme that wenearly all learn as children..
    ‘Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross
    To see a fine lady upon a white horse
    Rings on her fingers and rings on her toes
    She shall have music wherever she goes.’
    You refer-in your comment on the poem above- to the Mabinogion and to the ‘White Goddess’ by Robert Graves.
    And of course we have just had (on the 18th) Eponalia, the Feastival of Epona, the Celtic goddess associated with Horses. How could I not think of Rhiannon?

    But really for me, there’s something deeper going on in the poem that I want to share.
    I wasn’t sure hgow to say it.
    Its really best told by referring to another poem-this one by the American, Robert ‘Frost’ (appropriately for a winter poem).
    This poem is called Riders.
    Just like your poem,I see the horse in the following poem as a metaphor-perhaps for the adventures and uncertainty of our life experiences-and of our present times. We ride, you, Gwyn, everyone, on our horses over the land, across the air or across the waters, and yes, we make mistakes, we have our fears, our terrors.
    There’s mention in Frost’s poem of ..
    ‘a headless horse’
    I see this as a metaphor for our dreams, the unconscious,for the unknown, our hopes, the wild or uncertain in life. Perhaps for nature unbridled, free.
    But we ride on -as we must-trying to go with the flow-trying to understand or map out a journey, but it takes practice and skill to ride horseback yet we, if we love poetry, and imagination and art and if we love our land-we must follow our passions and allow nature a free rein, if you like..
    Ultimately perhaps the following poem is acknowledhing human ingenuity and creativity, our capacity to come up with solutions.
    And we need that now as the earth faces crisis.
    Anyway to the poem that , for me, touches on the ‘cold fingers’ in your poem, and
    ‘whispers a thanks for your winter visions.’

    The surest thing there is is we are riders,
    And though none too successful at it, guiders,
    Through everything presented, land and tide
    And now the very air, of what we ride.

    What is this talked-of mystery of birth
    But being mounted bareback on the earth?
    We can just see the infant up astride,
    His small fist buried in the bushy hide.

    There is our wildest mount-a headless horse,
    But though it runs unbridled off its course,
    And all our blandishments would seem defied,
    We have ideas yet that we haven’t tried.’
    Yes I liked your Winter Ride poem.
    There’s a spirit of freedom in it
    Your white mare pines for infinite horizons.
    You hear the fey bells chime this winter and see the fairy lights and hear the seasonal chants from Blackpool to Winter Hill. And as you say
    ‘some people do not see them.’

    It takes a certain way of looking at things, doesn’t it?
    You have to stop, break out of our 21st century so-called sophistication, become as child and gaze with wonder as an infant.
    (As Frost says ‘We can just see the infant ..)
    and then you will have a Christmas vision- paradoxically, you will see as the Wise Men might have seen-as they gave up their wordly ambitions to see a new birth all those years ago.

    This a 4 line poem that -I think-invites us to see as the Magi-though that’s my own interpretation
    Its by another American, Robert Bly.
    Watering the Horse.

    How strange to think of giving up all ambition!
    Suddenly I see with such clear eyes
    The white flake of snow
    That has just fallen on the horse’s mane.’
    A strange short poem

    Lets hope the world does not end tomorrow on 21/12/12 at 12.12 pm or any time soon
    and that this midwinter solstice brings good tidings to all who read my ramblings on Lorna’s wonderful poem-
    May you ride free this winter, and unafraid into New Year before us.


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