Thursday, 20 September 2007

A Winter Harvest

© David Britton

Can't think of anything much to say this morning, so I'll let someone else have a word instead. This is a previously unpublished poem by David Britton, 'A Winter Harvest'.

I am a servant in Summer's Kingdom

I keep mum, and bow and scrape all day

Eat gratefully whatever scraps are given.

It is no imposition. Whether waking

Or sleeping, I lie happy on a level with the clay

And have nothing whatever to think or to say.

But the first frosts waken reflection, and the chill

Strikes a summoning bell, and I sit up sharp

Sensing my old retainers are with me still

- Mist, and the smell of woodsmoke, and a faint

Rain in the air. I make then my claim to the throne

Of Samhain. I am crowned, begin to intone

And at last to sing, drinking from the chilled wine

That is put out for me. I walk later around

December's fields, and love to find oblivion

In the big trees, whose memory has gone

Beneath the deepest root and the hardest rock in the ground.

There is a mist-gap there, a break in the line

Of being, and beneath that the great caverns

That are my kingdom. Here, where the booming sound

Is made, of bardic verse, where the blood-life is denied

And everything translated into nothingness

- Here is the workshop of all shape, all blood, all livingness.

Here is a sky beyond the sky, and ice-blue dome

Full of the black messengers of death, of the end

Of the seeing eye, of the hearing ear, of confined mind.

Here, when all shape and matter's been refined

I put away my hammer and my fire, ascend

Into the upper world, where land still wears the veil

Of a life-illusion, where the trees are still asleep

But I can read the dreams that are on their faces

Now that the solstice is long past. There is a pale

Look of a living bought by death in the March air

And everywhere suggestions and the traces

Of that nought before all being, that the world reaps

From the chanted harvest in the hidden deeps.

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