Glastonbury's Bardic College

Twilight of the Gods  

written to contest the Bardic Chair of Glastonbury in the Ynys Witrin Open Gorsedd 2015. With this piece I became the 10th Bard of Glastonbury… (I should add it was written to be performed, and performed in two halves at that, but people have flattered me by asking to see it, so here goes):
Way out to the West, in his jewel-splendoured evening boat, Ra had turned from a falcon to a ram, and become Atum. And the top of his ram horns had just gone below the horizon, as the reddened sun-disc he carried on them began the final part of its nightly descent into the Underworld.
Venus, as she nearly always was, was the first to appear –
at first as a bright spot on the horizon, then nearer,
and brighter, and brighter, and nearer, and brighter,
and nearer, and nearer, until she alighted
on the deck, running, barefoot, her full-muscled legs
going past each other and slowing fast, as if she’d just come off a swing.
She re-ordered the setting of the tables, just slightly.
Laying a glass on its side, or ruffling up a cloth, so it wasn’t right,
but it was beautiful. Then she sat in the arrangement and waited.
It didn’t take long. A few breaths in and out, and then a great
whoosh, and a thump on the deck of the boat: a harpoon
had shot out of the sea and stuck in it. As soon
as it landed, its rope stretched as taut as a bowstring
and Venus looked down at the starboard sea,
and grasping the rope there was Repun Kamui.
A flick of his great Orca tail brought him clear
of the water; then, as he hauled himself nearer,
it flicked into feet he could plant on the strake,
and his feet, rope and hands worked together to take
him up over the gunwale.
He planted his feet on the decking, and beamed,
then bowed to the beauty of Venus, who seemed
not entirely sure who he was. “Hello”, she tried, “um…”
“Repun!” he helped her.
“Ah, thank you. Repun. Have I had the pleasure?”
“Yes… yes… miss Venus” – he tried not to look crestfallen. “Repun Kamui? Sea god of the Ainu people? Indigenous people of North Japan and islands off mainland Russia… Two Summers ago. We did indeed have the pleasure. Well, I know *I* had the pleasure. I thought you had the pleasure too?”
“Mm-hm, yes. I’m sure”, said Venus, not sure at all, but after all she was an exceptionally popular god – “well, it’s lovely to see you again.”
There was an awkward silence for a moment, then:
“Do you know any other gods who are coming?”
“I’m not sure…”
“I think there’s going to be quite a few of us.”
“Right”, said the sea-god.
“There don’t seem to be any nibbles…”
At this, something in Repun started. Food was very important to him.
“A gathering of gods demands,
a feast!” he cried, and clapped his hands,
and into each and every dish
there rained divinely tasty fish.
Venus, rendering herself ever-so-slightly less beautiful for a moment, pulled a
frown.
“What’s wrong?” asked the whale-boy, as more splatted down.
“Raw fish!” exclaimed Venus. “They’re slimy. They’re smooshy”.
“Where I’m from”, he countered, “we call raw fish sushi”.
“Well it won’t do at all. I don’t like how it looks”,
said the looker, and went on, “God feasts need god cooks”.
With that their cheeks were warmed by a wall of heat
as if a great oven door had swung open at the stern.
It came with an aroma as welcome and as sweet
As the scent of baking bread. They both turned
to greet them – not one kitchen god but two –
from China, Zao Jun of the stove, and who, else
alongside him, with her golden ladle
but India’s Annapoorna? They made for the tables
and started to fry up the feast.
And as soon as the sizzle began, from the East
drifted laughter and song,
and before very long,
a raft made of barrels was knocking against the ship’s port.
So just in case any amongst you had thought
There was something missing from this party, they’d come!
The gods of beer, and wine, and rum!
Bacchus, Sucellus, Dionysus,
Nin-kasi, and Yi-ti, who made wine from rices.
The Aztec Tezcatzontecatl was there,
and, of course, the Green Man, from whose copious hair
sprang grapevines that climbed up the side of the ship
and the gang of gods climbed them, up over the lip.
One wine-god more arrived then, bearing cheeses
– the god who bled wine. You may know him as Jesus.
Then – since the drink had arrived – god after goddess arrived on the deck.
A panoply of pantheons, set to get wrecked.
But in the hold below there was a pirate gang. And their names were Prometheus, Bochica, En-men-dur-ana, Gwydion, Imhotep, Merlin and Sir Isaac Newton.
And in the hold with them were all the gods’ treasures:
magical marvels beyond any measure.
A cornucopia of cornucopias!
There were bowls that could never be emptied of grain,
There were cups full of wine that could never be drained,
Swords that would always best any fighter,
And best of all, there was… a lighter.
It was a glorious hoard of so much hoarded glory
That, never mind crazy – the gods must be Tory!
Now, with all the sea gods unwitting on the deck above, the gang made a hole in the side of the boat, and brought as much of the treasure and knowledge as they could manage up with them, to the raft made of barrels that the gods of beer and wine had arrived on, and stole away unseen.
And you can probably guess what happened next:
The boat started sinking.
The glasses stopped clinking.
Bacchus stopped drinking.
Athena stopped thinking.
Shiva stopped dancing.
Macuilxochitl stopped chancing.
Mars stopped raging.
Geras stopped aging.
Odin stopped blowing.
The Green Man stopped growing.
Saturn stopped farming.
Aphrodite stopped charming.
Baldr stopped shining.
The Fates stopped twining.
Flora stopped gardening.
Priapus stopped hardening.
Loki stopped flashing.
Thor stopped crashing.
Thoth stopped learning.
Brigid stopped burning.
The Devil stopped lying.
The Angels stopped flying.
Jesus stopped bleeding.
The Muses stopped reading.
In short, and all together, the sea-gods stopped roaring,
The war gods stopped warring,
The gorgons stopped hissing,
And the love gods stopped kissing.
And Prometheus’ pirate gang, on their barrel-raft, brought the treasures and the knowledge of the gods back to the mortal shore. And in the East, a bright disc rose, and it wasn’t Ra, or Helios, or Belinos any more – it was simply the Sun. Our Sun. The Sun in all its radiating, Helium glory. It wasn’t carried on a golden chariot or a bejewelled boat. It didn’t come out of a great charred hole in the ground. It was over a million times larger than the earth, and it was real. And for that, it was even more magnificent. And we still marvelled at it. And marvelled at all the things around us. Because with the gods gone, the time had come for the women and men of the Earth – to write our own stories.

2015 Finals – 10th Bard of Ynys Witrin

A new Bard has been appointed in Glastonbury following the town’s annual contest for the ‘Bardic Chair’ on Tuesday 19th May 2015. Wes White – one of the local Library Assistants – won out after a contest featuring five finalists in total. To win the title, contestants are required to impress a panel of judges with a performance of their own original written work. The theme for the contest is chosen by the outgoing Bard, and this year that was Therèse Liddy, who chose the theme ‘Twilight of the Gods’. She was assisted in hosting the night by Glastonbury’s first Chaired Bard, Tim Hawthorn.

Several other awards are traditionally made by the town’s Bardic College on the same night. The ‘Crown’ is the runners-up award and this year went to Lisa Ceneri. A ‘Fool’s Hat’ is awarded to the most ‘foolish’ performance, foolishness being a much-valued quality amongst the bards. For the fourth year running it went to local artist and poet Richard JG Field for a typically madcap and entertaining act. Who will ever be foolish enough to beat him?

In a double-whammy for the Library, Wes’s fellow Library Assistant, Steve Leighton, was awarded the Tim Sebastian Memorial Trophy on the same night. This trophy is awarded by the judges to a member of the community nominated by audience members for ‘elevation of the word’. Steve is a prize winner in multiple short story competitions and his latest short story collection, ‘The Heart of the Sun’, is available now.

The other finalists who captivated the Assembly Rooms were Annabelle Markwick and Lin Hennessy. The contest was judged by performer and actor Nick White; filmmaker Kevin Redpath; local businessman and Hemp crusader Free Cannabis; and by two former winners of the Chair (known as ‘Elder Bards’), Tony Atkinson and Gerry Barnett.

At the end of the evening, the assembly was joined by a contingent from the Town Hall as Glastonbury’s newly inaugurated Mayor and Deputy Mayor arrived, and an honorary bardship was awarded to the Reverend Sister Diana Greenfield.

Wes’ winning piece can be found on his own blog at http://whysweetlie.blogspot.com. His primary duty is to ensure a similar event takes place for his succession next year, and the theme for next year’s contest will be announced in March. For more details of the Bardic College and past events follow @BardOfAvalon on Twitter for ongoing updates.

Hail the Bard!

/|\

Pictured left-to-right:<br />
New 'Chaired Bard' of Glastonbury Wes White;<br />
New Deputy Mayor of Glastonbury Jon Cousins;<br />
New Mayor of Glastonbury Denise Michell (also one of the founders of the Bardic College);<br />
Winner of the Tim Sebastian Memorial Trophy, Steve LeightonPictured left-to-right: New ‘Chaired Bard’ of Glastonbury Wes White; New Deputy Mayor of Glastonbury Jon Cousins; New Mayor of Glastonbury Denise Michell (also one of the founders of the Bardic College); Winner of the Tim Sebastian Memorial Trophy, Steve Leighton

Open Gorsedh 2014

2014’s contest for the Bardic Chair of Ynys Witrin on the theme ‘The Waters of Avalon’ was won by Therese Liddy and the Crown was awarded to Stephen Cole, whilst Richard Field won the fool’s prize for the third year running! The Tim Sebastian Memorial Trophy was awarded to Tim Hawthorn.

Thanks to our 2014 judges, Su Real, Paradox, Danu Forest, David Reakes and David Williams who did a fine job of judging the competition and to the wonderful bards, poets and musicians who shared their inspiration with us on the night.

The Gorsedh ceremony on Sunday was a beautiful afternoon with Clare representing ‘The Lady of Avalon’. I (Lisa Goodwin) graduated to Elder Bard and initiated six new Bards. We welcome Stephen Cole, Jack Goodwin, Therese Liddy, David, Jim Killeen and Louise Stewart-Daisy,  as new members of the college.

Gratitude to Tim Hawthorn, Lydia Lyte, Dreow Bennett, Shamus Joy and Denise Michell for holding a wonderful ceremony.

Blessings,

Lisa Goodwin

Taliesin’s Tale

Nature applauds us with cheers of thunder,
And cascades of rain. Every moment under,
Her grasp, so tenacious, she threatens to take me.
To devour and love me, yet forsake me.
Gwion am I who took from her cauldron,
The three blessed drops of pure inspiration.

Oh, she is not happy, she’s making a fuss.
She will tear me apart, I know that I must,
Flee the Enchantress, so crooked, yet fair.
There beats in my chest, the heart of a hare.
I dart over the earth with a bitch on my heel.
The start of a quest to discover what’s real.
And so I embark on my fateful folly;
Seeking to find I am not my body!

Rain claps the river and cold water beckons,
My sense of self just another obsession,
I dive in the water, my heart skips a beat,
As my salmon body leaps into the deep.
Transformed into otter, she threatens to eat me,
Still, I am determined she won’t defeat me,
So I sweep through the rivers and scale the oceans;
Seeking to find I am not my emotions!

Now cold blue lightning lashes the water,
And I know that the otter bitch will not falter.
So fins turn to wings and I take to the air,
Hearing the birds sing of freedom up there,
Her hawk eye is on me. She’s still on my back,
Clipping my feathers and poised to attack!
I look to the wind, ask how I’m defined.
Only seeking to find I am not my mind!

And now as my body descends from the flight,
The clouds reveal a crescendo of light,
And riding it’s rays, I blaze into the corn,
I await the goddess, I will be reborn.
Surrendered, devoured, I am not beaten,
As by the holy Ceridwen I am eaten.
I look to my mother to ask what I got,
Only seeking to find, I am not, I am not, I am not.

I grow in her belly, a year and a day,
I am birthed and re-birthed, and then cast away.
Swaddled in crane skin, thrown in the sea,
There I come to All knowing, or it comes to me.
And there stops my seeking and wishing to be,
For what I am seeking is resting in me.
And as you can tell by the fire in my head,
I am the Bard Taliesin; Thrice blessed.

Lisa Goodwin – Chaired Bard of Ynys Witrin – April 2014

Prometheus

In Bardic voice I join our circle, one of many in a chain
Linking us to Bards of old, may their spirit our words sustain.
My job it is to tell a tale, to conjure from the flames
Of our flickering fire great heroes with glory to their names.

Our theme this night, the chaired Bard’s choice of test,
Is the legend of the immortal who loved us mortals best,
Who made of us makers, thinkers, creators in his image,
With fiery ingenuity our future to manage.

Our breath a flame, our very gaze an horizon,
We stride like giants this earth our mighty footprint lies on.
I would illuminate tonight with beams of verse
The titanic struggle between the best of man and worst.

Our elemental being was shaped by that fond incendiary,
Whose tricks on the gods landed him in quandary.
But while they would have had us four-footed, snuffling in the mire,
Legend says that twice he gifted us with fire.

Our culture, science and arts all arise from there,
From burning particles which like us feed on air.
We stared in cave or camp at white, yellow, orange, red.
The flame bit our brains, like visions, like horses in the head.

From cooking and a hearth rose human sensuality
Such comfort perhaps cut us off from animality
With time to sit and use the captious brain
Human inventiveness and a world of ideas were set in train.

So man became maker of marks, urging to pursue his line,
His tracks he left by wheel and forge, the metal and the mine.
Outgrowth and carapace now covered the Promethean clay
Of Iron John who feared his own tenderness, you might say.

Somehow we all got robbed of our birthright in nature to dwell,
The commons stolen from under us and work sent to hell.
The iron grip of industry ripped us from the land,
Into the maw of commerce we were pitched by Mammon’s hand.

To animate and generate, transform mere natural matter,
The glamour of such alchemy is a spell that didn’t shatter.
The march of progress on an anvil beats out time
Bronze age, Iron age, through to Nuclear age, heart of this rhyme.

For whereto has it brought us, this civilisation?
A knife-edge, a cliff-edge, from our own annihilation,
Where all that is beautiful in the human world
Seems to have a shadow around it cankerously curled.

Maths, music, medicine, astronomy and art,
Architecture, navigation, and of science the dark heart,
To what ends have these been twisted, sating artificial need?
Humankind’s bright, bold abilities made void by yawning greed.

Power-hungry leaders, of economies and armies flick the switches.
Under concrete, under shelling, the seed of hope scarce twitches.
Against this barrage, the world in oil, arms and money remade,
We consumers flick switches too, on battalions of gadgets arrayed.

Only the technological fix can ease our woes.
Natural, renewable, self-sufficient, small-scale? None of those.
And here in Somerset, Hinkley Point’s the way to doom.
By the holy carrot of jobs we’re driven its miasma to consume.

EDF ONR DCO EPR, an alphabet soup of toxicity,
Letters which brand us like cattle and fence us in with electricity.
Dead in the water of Bridgwater Bay the notion of public utility
Sold off and then subsidised, guess who foots the bill for so-called profitability.

They say, ‘We’re all about low carbon, we make the world cleaner and greener.
Our inspiration gives you a future, we’re as pure as the breath of Athena.’
Sweeteners and backhanders, energy bosses at the government table.
Consultation’s for the birds, their PR twitter a new Tower of Babel.

The pressure is on in a company town to take their radiant shilling,
Sucking crumbs from corporate finger, as subcontractors aim to make a killing.
While Ukippers winge about windfarms, the nuclear behemoth circles our boat.
And Hinkley buzzes and blazes like some nightmare carnival float.

Denatured, disenchanted, the sacred elements in there they fix,
Splitting, rearranging, rewriting nature’s old wise tricks.
Infecting, injecting the body of the land with radiation,
Laying waste docile populus, sick from vaccination.

To keep the lights on in Britain, have we put out our own?
To blight our grandchildren’s lives with dangers well-known.
Our faith is in Atomic Rod, not Church or Earth, intuition, spirit divine.
On flat-screen TV, The Blue Planet HD. Gone Fission says the sign.

Against nature we have bent our wits, oh! hubris improper.
Did even Pandora imagine what we might un-stopper?
Can the nuclear genie be put back in the steel and concrete jar?
Human paradigms remade, earthly paradise regained, by seeing far?

Corporations and their scientists life’s divinity blaspheme.
Economic necessity the wheel on which they break our dream.
Fire would be our attribute, so thought our benefactor,
But not even the gods saw the anti-worlds within the reactor.

Forces beyond our control, as thunder is heard to mutter.
Five miles down, they carve hell’s chamber and death in there they shutter.
What monstrous betrayal of the love our Mother Gaia bore,
Human folly punched in deep by iron fist to her core.

A fog of lies they spew, media mockery they orchestrate.
We’re naysayers, nimbys, tree-huggers, we hold hands, sing and demonstrate.
Effete vicars, bloodless twerps, dim nostalgics, kith of Ludd,
They say we want the world dragged back to primeval dark and mud.

Life’s tremulous sacred flame we act now to defend,
A task greater than that of our champion and fire-stealing friend.
Prometheus, you’ve been dishonoured by the race who won your trust.
Elemental you made us, out of sparks and rain and dust.

We are the stuff of cosmos and the heroes of the hour!
We shall stand tall and not before presumed consensus cower.
No man is god for all his power, that’s the moral of this tale.
Let’s remember our maker’s gentle hands, who loved us human-scale.

Flesh of clay, soul of fire, our perfection he built in.
Scientific improvement not required, just to see the light within.
May human clay give body to the spirit of the earth,
And sweet energy, of natural source, speak not death but birth.

Jeremy Bull, Beltane 2013

Invitation to compose for Glastonbury Harvest Show 2013

Dear Bards of Ynys Witrin,

As a recently ‘Elder-ed’ Bard of Ynys Witrin I’d like to make an open invitation for Bards to compose on the theme of ‘The Fruits of the Land’ to perform for this year’s Harvest Show on Saturday 14th September in Glastonbury.

Admittedly this is well in advance, but it means we will have time to incubate some good ideas…

As you know, The Harvest Show is an important community event bringing people together of all ages, from all sections of the local community who have a passion for growing, baking, brewing and preserving.

However, last year, numbers were a bit sparse when it came to the produce auction so we need some performer in song, story and/or verse to give the day a boost!

What better event to honour by putting our Bardic pens to paper?

Please email me on sweetcicelystar@googlemail.co.uk if you are interested.

Blessed Be,

Gerry x

The Legend of Prometheus

prometheus_chainedStanding up in front of you is like walking on fire,
and that’s my passionate muse and my deepest desire.
I teach and share, to break down limitations.
I lay myself bare – In Truth – Inciting transformation.

I keep this sacred flame, that never grows cold,
and I make no claims on this flame I hold.
The light of divine consciousness arising within man,
Burns at White Spring, cavernous, within this sacred land.

And I nurture yet another flame, smouldering ember in my heart.
Breath of muse ignites a blaze, to stand me here playing the bard.
Well it’s the legend of Prometheus, I’ve got to play my part,
and when I check in with the Awen – I find something to impart.

Always reaching for the light, that bold Prometheus,
Refused Titanic fight spared the jail in Tartarus,
He spent night after night, with his brother Epimetheus,
Shaping man after might, in name of his love.

And so by his design, and his love for all humanity
He shaped mankind, then; no mere technicality,
Athena was consigned, to breathe life; mortality.
Human being was defined, but what of personality?

Endurance, strength and nerve, an afterthought to give,
To the creatures of the earth, Epimetheus’s gift,
but it never does occur, to give humankind a lift,
and Prometheus observes this rift.

Epimetheus’s cup had nothing left for man,
The animals all supped from the lion to the lamb,
but we were snubbed in favour of his plan.
So Prometheus stood us up and the resistance began.

He felt his love for humans like fire in his brain.
And under no delusion he nurtured tender flame.
To bring it to his people to rise against their pain.
And a way to keep all of us warm in wind and rain.

Zeus declared that sacrifice must be more robust,
He took the best of the flesh and left the rest for us,
So Prometheus did a trick and the jape was later sussed,
and with only bones to pick, Zeus took fire, left us dust.

Prometheus flew higher than Icarus, and even though it stung,
with treachery vociferous he lit a torch from the sun.
Imagine the aurora! Yes! Zeus was set to stun.
He sent pretty Pandora, deceptive heart and lying tongue.
And a funny looking box that should never be undone
Oh, what a stunning beauty, was sent to live among
Athena, Epimetheus, Prometheus and us.

Pandora’s curiosity, was bound to do us in.
Her apparent generosity was not to be boxed in.
And she unleashed an atrocity of suffering and sin.
and all manner of monstrosity to get under our skin.

Now it is debatable, who left us with false hope
so we could be capable, to cope.
Was it he in chains unbreakable, or that dope,
of a woman unobtainable who revealed the boxes scope.

Yes, he in chains unbreakable. The last part of my tale,
Prometheus unmistakable apparent epic fail,
Made his freedom unsustainable, his passion was curtailed,
He was seized by Gods unshakable, chained on Caucasian Jail.

Day and night tormented by a giant eagle’s need,
Prometheus never repented, Liver heal and liver bleed!
Man, I would go demented while the hungry beast did feed,
Yet Prometheus never lamented, it’s greed.

Then Zeus gave two conditions, his freedom to be met,
If he could proposition and somehow get,
An immortal volunteer to agree to be dead,
And a mortal so sincere to destroy the daily threat.

Then in walked tender Chiron and brave Heracles,
The trickster may find asylum with God’s such as these.
With a sweet surrender and sudden irony,
wounded healer and defender died with notoriety.
It was no small labour, but the mortal killed the bird,
And unchained poor Prometheus … at least that’s what I heard.

Until today,
When I met him on the bus!
Yes, I know it’s an unlikely place for people like us
Still, I took the chance to ask him, why Prometheus?
And he told me …

I Prometheus, wild adversary,
Thief Immortal, paradoxical trickery.
I bring you Fire! I offer Power!
Bring you liberation, to create or to devour.

I Titanic traitor chained unto a stone.
Bird satiater, cursed to live and die alone.
Yes, my fate was always marred, the gate to Olympus barred,
permanently scarred, and on what charge?

My unrepentant, holy burning heart.
He despised my cunning, he shunned my art,
Why? Because I dared!

Bound in chains, my Olympic fall from grace.
Each day an eagle’s feast, my sacrifice to warm your face.
Why? because I cared!

And a thousand vestal virgins, do not do me honour,
and a million clay built humans still shun the sacred fire.
Why?

Well don’t just stare!

You heard me! I gave up what I got!
I suffered and I sacrificed, for what?!

You! Yes, you! Clay built flora in God’s image,
tormented by Pandora, holding false hope’s privilege.

I conspired, I inspired you to take charge of your own,
to stand against authority, to take wisdom gods have known,
And now little metal boxes warm your heart and heat your home,
Orange coiling filaments, light switches. Flame dis-owned!

And you choke in the smoke of your ill fed bonfires.
Eyes burning acrid; blinded by fools and liars.
And like Zeus, you bind me! Another rock to sit upon
You stand me in eternal golden form, beside your temple to Mammon.
Rockerfella wraps me in a zodiacal chain,
To witness your torture again and again.

You take my fire, run it round, with a corporate charade,
New World Order bound, coca-cola reign on your parade!
Five rings for the race of man, five rings of fire ascend,
An Olympic spell with one to rule them all, one to pretend.
A million eyes gaze on the screen, open to suggestion.
‘Go back to sleep,’ they say. No need to beg the question.

All you vacant vestal virgins wear about your neck, false chains.
And my deluded clay creations. You know nothing of my pains.
Do you.
Or do I judge too quick?

Will you awaken from the eternal torture of your soul?
Will you break the chains that bind you before your liver is sold?
Will you tend a sacred flame? Will you keep it pure and clear?
Take the power of my prophecy to those who would hear!

Will you light a simple fire, to sit by with your friends?
Will you grasp your sovereignty? You have a planet to mend.
Do you dare to burn and sack your Gods of corporation?
Do you care to claim back? Reinstate your sovereign nation!

I Prometheus,
A living mythology.
In the darkness of mystery,
I leave with you my history.
Complete it!

Lisa Goodwin

Open Gorsedh 2013

Poster for PrometheusThis year’s contest for the Bardic Chair of Ynys Witrin was won by Lisa Goodwin. The crown was awarded jointly to Harmony Davies and Hugh le Provost; Richard Field won the fool’s prize for the second year running and the Tim Sebastion Memorial Trophy was awarded posthumously to Graham Coles. The standard of entries was higher than ever and the atmosphere for the Finals was electric.

We had a gorgeous Gorsedh ceremony on Sunday afternoon – the weather held off ominously overhead. It is with great sadness we remember the passing this year of Graham Coles, Glastonbury’s Town Crier and Honorary Bard and Nikki Dorakis, who provided valuable magical support in the initial setting up of the Gorsedh. Gerry performed her duties admirably, initiating seven new Bards and graduating to Elder herself. We would like to welcome Thalia Brown – *Lady of Avalon, Senga Skylark, Duncan Batey, Steve Astronaut, Lisa Goodwin, Jeremy Bull and Hugh le Provost as new members of the college. It was lovely to have the Mayor attending this year and it was a profoundly moving experience to welcome Geoffrey Ashe as an Honorary Bard. I shall treasure the look on his face for years to come! Thanks to Lydia Lyte (Swordbearer), Denise Michell (Elder Druid) and Shamus Joy (Herald) for holding the energy of the ceremony so gracefully. It was great to be able to chill out at the Buddleia Bar afterwards and ground the energy with some mouth-watering cheesecake!

Violet and the Toad.

All watch Violet in the lane,

Kissing Mister Toad again,

Does she think that we don’t know

Of how they carry on…?

Violet doesn’t understand –

The rumours, now, are out of hand,

Does she think that we don’t know

The secret of Mister Toad…?

Rumours here

And whispers there –

Violet shrinks ‘cause the Toad don’t care,

Does she think that we don’t know

She’s at his every whim…?

Now Violet comes to understand

This Toad plays only underhand,

Yet, still she thinks that we don’t know

The secret of Mister Toad…

He has warts upon his skin

And no one knows quite where he’s been,

And we don’t like him,

We dislike him,

We don’t like him very much  at all…

Maybe, Violet,

You could be my bride –

Stand for ever

Right here, by my side.

Maybe, Violet,

You could hold my hand,

But I know that you wouldn’t understand…

See a girl who lost her dreams –

Through the holes ripped in her seams,

Watch her pine her life away,

Since Mister Toad hopped away.

‘cause Mister Toad didn’t want to play –

Mister Toad just  hopped away…

A Star Came Falling.

And, just for a moment,

The world paused from turning,

Lost in the depths

Of a dark diamond sky,

Black August velvet –

Bestowing serenity,

And no one else saw them;

Just you there, and I…

I looked up for hope,

An end to the sorrow,

And a bright star came falling –

From Heavens on high,

I held your hand

And knew you were smiling,

No words broke that silence –

No sound, save your sigh…

And yet, still another,

Came down, silent, sailing,

A second wish granted

To send upon high,

And I still remember

The peace that we sought there,

Beneath russet Moon

And glittering sky…

So cherish these memories,

Burned now for ever,

Let them live in your heart –

There, never to die,

And remember the joy

Of those stars which came falling,

And those moments of magic,

For you, and for I.

Sunflowers

And once again soft scented breezes
Caressed the perfection of morning,
Sighing from nowhere,
Heading anywhere – everywhere.
Rustling restless motions
Searching amidst the wild growth
Of the roadside
Dandelions; Poppies;
Burdocks; Teazle;
Long grasses,
Rippled.

And in far flung fields and around
An astounding blaze –
Yellow and gold
Snatched my breath,
Left me for a moment without.
What towering giants stood there,
Heads upturned towards azure sky,
And the blazing eye,
Far above…?

So tall and fair these massed ranks –
Swayed by sweet breath of summer,
Lost in a whispered conversation –
Hushed to all but themselves
They nodded and smiled
A mutual agreement
To silent sentiments
Only they could comprehend.

And then far away a sudden burst
Of birdsong, carrying down the breeze;
As though her very heart might break
If that melody were to stop
Before it reached Heaven above.
And I thought I understood
The nodding of those flowers
Growing all around.
And for an instant
I thought I knew
There was a God
And the world
Was at peace,
Tranquil
Still.

Fool’s Tower Fallen

Dazed and bewildered
Standing ‘pon stygian shores
Of midnight’s deepest myre,
Drowned in darkness,
There exists no sight;
No sound –
Seems no sense at all.
Nothing is fresh.
There is no life;
No breath –
Bereft even
Of welcome death.
Feels no sense at all.
Nothing thrives or grows – Under realm and reign
Of Nocturne’s fallen Darkling Prince.
Stillness of smothersome silence encroaches
‘pon everything around,
Leaving naught but slow fade
of human memory.
Wracked and ruined rubble –
Fallen; falling still,
From vaulten gilded firmaments filled
With beautiful, fire-fretted dreams of an ancient world –
Paradise long lost,
Where soft spreadling wings
Once bore a fool aloft –
With laughter, light,
All that went before –
A Tower for to build.

So look you…!
And cast your eyes not down.
Gaze thee ‘pon a tragic, benighted fool.
Look now –
And see him very well.
One who hoped – oft-times ventured
That his tower might reach the Moon,
’til he smote at its foundations,
Laying waste to all around
Paralysed and useless –
Fool’s tower hit the ground …

Now ’tis very dark here –
And I can’t find my way
Home.