BARD LIADAN, OR PERHAPS ONE OF THE RISHIS, CONSIDERS THE INFORMATION OF A
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
me be certain I have understood you.
tell me that you have no guilds of bards
to convene and sing to one another
sacred measures of what has transpired
the full and dark, the dark and full,
offering the fragments of their vision
an image of the hour take shape,
the most skilled then set before the people
put them on their guard against the guileful
rectify the laws and names of things;
poets vie in speaking idle words,
nothing, making nothing happen;
for their labors most have no reward
to be printed on a page perused
none, except their rivals studious
the judge’s mind, that they too may be printed?
the harp of concord thus untuned
bardcraft made into a trade for fools!
is the dark age you must live in surely,
age our eldest bards foretold last solstice
such a cold as no one could recall.
traveler, if you hear me, as I you,
if your well of wit is not quite dry,
you not now return and tell your comrades
time has come to win word’s honor back,
the canon and the sacred forms,
the counsels of the wise,
forth your strongest voices to beseech
people to return to reason’s measure?
words of all who do this will be deeds,
of space in the memory of the gods;
rest is vanity, the trash of time
time will sweep away.
POET TO HER COLLEAGUE
sit with me and be my friend
we'll tell stories without end
far and near, from books and life,
dreams I've dreamed, the lands I've known,
should you not call your own?
friends you've had, both false and true,
I not know them all through you?
the unenlightened talk of spite
envy among those who write!
faster shall our friendship grow,
livelier shall our verses go.
company, three's company,
constitute a poets' bee,
a council of the wise --
end to what we might devise!
whether all eggs or few may hatch,
present good at least we'll catch,
(as our favoring signs portend)
sit with me and be my friend.
do not come to read here in the pride
being chosen by those arbiters
on whatever basis may decide
person's poem is better, another's worse.
write because we must; we come to read
the heart must speak its mind, or break;
recognizing one another's need,
with attention hears the other speak.
is a humble thing, a humble place,
greatest things spring from humility --
the Tao says, the central empty space
the vessel its utility;
we may yet be, if we hold this dear,
city's heart and mind, its mouth and ear.
gather here to see
from which we need not hide our face,
hear the sound of honest speech, to share
dreams have etched upon the sleeping brain,
the still voice has said, when heavy hours
us to regions of the mind and life
mentioned in the marketplace: to find
match the threads of common destinies,
grimed over by our thoughtless life --
sanctuary for the common mind
seek. Not to compete, but to
we have seen and learned, and to look back
here upon that world where tangled minds
the problems they attempt to solve
doubting one another, doubting love,
wise imagination, and the word.
looking back from here upon that world,
ways will appear to us, which when
only struggled in it, did not take
of kindred minds, lay undiscovered;
reflecting on the Babeled speech
various disciplines that make careers,
shall find out some speech by which to address
sector of the world's fragmented truth
bring news of the whole to every part.
say the mind, once whole, can mend the world.
mend the mind, that is the task we set.
many years? How many lives? We
do not know;
each shall bring a thread.
VERSES (THE PATH OF SONG)
who desire the skill of
wish to know how to acquire
bear in mind with joy and
things chiefly: the word, the
human other, the cosmic Whole.
First the word: how
each word we use
a wealth, a world of meaning.
every hour watch words in action,
names above all accord attention,
the act of naming is half of
too, the books of the bards
what they do and how they do it,
tradition's table listen and
Next, attend to
yourself, your soul,
of memories, well of dreams,
of wounds, seeker of healing,
teller of its own tale,
of melody beyond experience:
who can hear both tale and tune,
them all things bring signs of guidance.
Then, the others who
are to themselves
of memories, wells of dreams,
of wounds, seekers of healing,
tellers of their own tales,
of melody beyond experience,
to you as you to them.
all, abhor envy like poison,
envy blinds the I in the other,
creation with hatred of good.
envy stings, let its sting alert you
what you must praise lest
your soul perish,
draw its fang with magnanimous deed
all you acknowledge shall be
Last and first: the
household of Earth and all
infinite fugue of human fates,
hope of vision, of one awareness
all earth, surmounting
each true word the poet utters
to attention, advances toward peace.
is the Way, complex beyond knowing,
free, unforced as a child's chanting;
every step the goal is present
most when we manage the step
all who read this find
friends in wisdom
inspiration for sacred song!
BARD'S FOURFOLD TASK
learn the tradition and hear how the voices converse together;
find your own vision and voice, assume your part in the play;
to all around you, to gather and order knowledge;
on the ground thus gained, to teach and organize others.