Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Black Mountain River

Autumn begins.
It doesn't take much;
One tug at my feet by
Autumn's grey strangers
And I'm away
Or rather, perhaps,

As if a stream
Has appeared in front of me
Towards that great
Black Mountain
Of Winter,
Autumn sings me home.

There I am.
In the womb of Black Mountain,
I'm waiting
As patient as a
Heron or the
Hawthorn on the moor.

Spring's grey sister
Has come for me.
What began with a crocus
Ends with the broken bough,
The leaning-in towards
The quiet soul-song
Of the mist on the
Black mountainside.

I step into the water,
Leaving Summer's gold and laughter,
Like a man baptised
Into a luminous darkness.

The silver mist closes behind me;
The grey strangers accompany me;
The moon puts pennies on my eyes.

The tragedy of life is not its sadness,
But forgetting the way back home
Along Black Mountain River.

Beautiful photograph of Dartmoor by Jen Bryant


  1. Beautiful, so beautiful Tom. Autumn is my favourite season, it has its magic and its siren song for me, though it means something different here...the gentle rain and greening after long, hot summer, the return of life, the light becomes soft and gentle rather than harsh and blinding. It's when I begin to wake up creatively.

  2. I thought I could live for years in the sun, but in India, after months of delicious heat, it rained. And I mean it RAINED. Everyone - including the animals - fled for shelter, but I stood in the street laughing as my own baptism pelted down.
    That turned something in me, so I now greet autumn with relief. The permission to tunnel in keeps the sharpest monsters at bay.
    Thanks Tom - a sweet celebration of this darkening, gentling time.

  3. If Ian McMillan is the 'Bard of Barnsley' then you are most definitely the 'Minstrel of the Moors'. ;-)

    I hope the publishing wing of Dark Mountain comes to fruition in the very near future because I have a vision of reading a cloth-bound edition of your poems, typeset by Cristian Brett (bracketpress.co.uk) and illustrated by Rima, beside a well-tempered wood burner on a midwinter night.

  4. Warren, that sounds wonderful, but what would be even more wonderful, I think, is if the book came with a CD (all artwork by Rima, of course) of Tom reading his poems, and maybe a story or two as well! With the gentle sounds of an accordion to accompany it, and perhaps the crackle of a fire in the background. These poems are meant to be heard, not just read!

  5. Well done Tom! I agree with the mermaid in the attic; I would like to hear it read by you. I read it to myself once, then again, and then I liked the sound of the words so much that I was inspired to sing a musical version of it, three times in all. I know that sounds like the kind of thing a crazed fan would do (perhaps there are no rules against a sister being a crazed fan) but I really enjoyed how the words sounded sung. It could be something not too obviously folky but just a taste of, with strangeness and spirit and the feeling of just having remembered something and trying to hold onto it. Sort of mantric as well. Maybe Tom will do it! Or maybe it would kill it, I don't know. Some things shouldn't be messed with... Once a poem gets out into the world it runs the risk of things like that happening to it, but that's just the nature of people, to want to take something they like and make it their own. I think we all read favourite poetry aloud as though we are the only ones who ever properly appreciated it, or when we find a nice picnic spot feel that it is really ours alone! You can take it as a compliment, Tom, that people want to mess with your creation, or, just to be on the safe side, you can add a little afterword to the next poem, strictly prohibiting the translation of your work into theatre, animation, Country and Western songs or opera.

  6. Haha. @Warren - don't ever call me 'Minstrel of the Moor' to my face, okay? ;) But yes to all the rest! I think we could actually make this happen. Must ply PK & DH with mead, then get signatures...

    @Mermaid - there's a thought. I have been planning to make some recordings to put up here, but got distracted. I shall attend to it... Thanks for the reminder.

    @Lunar - we're just like the seeds that only germinate with the right curves of temperature. These particular conditions of mist and chill and rain cause something essential to flourish in us. The season of the breathing flowers.

    @Hita - yes, I was thinking about this the other day. Once you let things out here, they're liable to cross-breed with other ideas and other voices - so long as no one's making money that should be mine and give attributions where they're due, I say let them fly :) I look forward to hearing your album of My Brother's Poems... you've such a beautiful voice: it'd be a joy :)

  7. Cross pollination is a marvelous thing. As for crazed sister fans, I hope there are no rules...I also have an incredibly (and sometimes annoyingly!) talented genius for a brother!

  8. Ah...nobody knows how to dance better than a poets...the dance of the soul. Lovely


  9. I think this poem would deserve another poem to be written just to capture this poem's beauty :)

    BTW, I'm quite amazed there is someone (and non-Slavic even) so fascinated by Baba Yaga! I wrote my BA thesis about her, and so I found out not many people are interested in her. Well, at least not many scholars, sadly.

  10. @Petra - you'd be surprised. She has a lot of 'fans', but perhaps few of them are academics. Do you know Rima's work? :: http://intothehermitage.blogspot.com :: there's plenty of Baba Yaga there, too! We're both devoted to Baba Yaga tales...

    Would love to read that thesis!


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