Exalted goddess of the wild hills heights,
Warrior guide of the Northern tribes,
Catalyst source of inspiration,
Hear my poet’s invocation.
When the derelict day is a shadow of life
And the working wage leads the puppet show of strife
Let me see your fearsome reality
Steeped in laughter weeping its tragedy,
Steer me through beauty and brutality
To visions of force to break this profanity.
When desire and drive are locked up in concrete
And the flux of thought is bound into office space
Sing me the songs of centuries of history
Map me the myths of this land and its mysteries.
Lead me deeper into Annwn.
Show to me your gleaming hallows.
In a magical pageantry of field and factory
The weapons of the ancients
Shine through the contemporary.
Grant me the weave of space and time
To lift this daze and shift this paradigm.
When We Meet
When we meet, must it be in the high hills
Drowning in the mist smolten eddies of the past,
Fallen standing stones, swollen barrow mounds,
Tracing spectral processions along hidden paths.
Where on a dark night, bonfires ignite, hill to hill,
Tribal confederations greet, dispute land and cattle
And disagree on the consolidation of your will.
Dispersing to set bounds, guards over cows,
Grounds and forges to found, producing weapons
And civilisation to the roll of chariot wheels.
If not for Rome, would you have been a race
Of wild horses, dashing and proud with long
Tangled manes and a beauty that laughed
Off the peak of every hill. Or a battlefield
Of bloody misery, broken spear shafts sunk
In plains of gore, where carrion birds horde
Upon entrails and a host of staring skulls
Watches over the entryways of the north?
A vapid question now. Rome came, saw and conquered.
Cartimandua’s uneasy allegiance did not hold.
The annexed queen betrayed your cause.
Her ex-husband’s treachery bred defeat
And your last champions succumbed.
Throughout those Roman centuries
You watched through Minerva’s eyes.
When they left, your people had turned to new gods;
The Pater Nosta, the virgin Mary and their holy son.
And what acts did those embittered warlords unfold?
It seems your wrath still burnt in their veins
In the name of God, in their hunger for the spoils of war,
In their vain brief hold of territory from the Angles
And invasive waves of Scandinavians and Normans.
When the roses clashed in war, in white and red,
Once more, blood and spirit were mixed and blended.
The industrial revolution lent rebirth to the north
Digging deeper into mines, savaging the heart of the earth,
Tonnes of black coal and ore, iron jaws ravaging steep heights
Biting chunks of grit from the bones of screeching hills,
Pulling pounds of pink flesh from the squealing pits to build
The factories of red brick, feeding flames
To fan your black shroud mantle.
Now I see your visage is inescapable, you speak
Not just on the hills, but in every fracture of the land,
The fractals of each cityscape. You are not
This dull grey apathy, mind numbing hypocrisy,
Smoky residue of the industrial pall, but the pulsing energy
That pounds through the land, guides the smith’s hammer,
The seamstress’s hand, still cares for cow and horse.
The imperative of inspiration, on which generations
Of bards converge, from Llywarch’s wail to the head of Urien,
Through the open floodgates of industrial song,
To the honesty of Hughes, brutal and strong.
You dwell not in the unreachable heights,
Nor the mists of antiquity, but belong right here and now,
Where we meet in poetry to stamp the firm
Impression of your features on the north.