Saturday, September 27, 2014

In Cheddar Gorge

To listen to an audio recital of the poem, click here

I lived in deepest Somerset for many years, spent countless hours in Cheddar Gorge, climbing its rocks and crags from the outside, plumbing the depths of its caves where the viscera is filled with stalactites that are the eighth wonder of the world. The scale of Nature cannot be reduced to language, any more than can its emotional impact. Many times I went to Cheddar with my camera, thinking a photograph might capture what words could not. But the camera fails too. Cheddar is not the Grand Canyon, nor Timna, nor the Yarlung Zangbo of China, nor the Kali Gandaki of Tibet, nor the Cotahuasi of Peru, nor the Copper Canyon of Mexico, but if you cannot get to any of these, go to Cheddar. If the universe has a pulse, this is one of the places where you can hear it beating.

In Cheddar Gorge

In Cheddar Gorge
  the grey rocks
            the granite rocks
the filaments of flung rocks
the deep fissures
                  in the cleft rocks
and the rooks’ nests
                  in the cliff face
and the fossils forged
                    in the chill air
where man rocks
  at the slow pace
            and the dizzy grace
                     of cold prayer

The sheer gorgeousness of the sheer gorge
  extends from the high crags
            to the deep coombes
from the siren outcrops of meteoric rock
  to the cut shards of volcanic rock
Cold caves dug beneath the live rocks
  their icicles a cryptic code
            engraved upon the tomb rocks
                     the hieroglyphs of some poor devil’s lair
and in the lofty air
at every manageable and unimaginable angle
  granite grey or grass green
            ivy-clad or strung with ferns
the overhanging limbs of ancient trees
  dangle perpendicular against the falling screes

The steps of rocks ingress upon the pillars
of a natural temple
               altared by dolmens
(altered primordially by a tantrum of the gods -
the smashing of tectonic plates
  against the walls of rocks)
obelisks of original rock
  pyramids of natural rock
catacombs of raw crude rock
    tumuli cut in the cathedral rock
in pulse of tree and pulse of rock
    monolith and tabernacle
              shrine and nave -
                       pure rock

The human voice requires a song
    to sing the god and gorge within
and harmonise it with the silence
    of the gods without
to echo pulse of tree and pulse of rock
    in the beating rhythm of the human heart
and transform godly silence
    into human shout

Any liturgy will do -
              psalm or veda
                       ode or hymn
Words are irrelevant in the end
    whatever their significance in the beginning
Only their rising upwards through the human gorge
    to issue
              carved in stone
                                  not rock
reduced to cairn or cottage
                                 wall or track
and the presumption of the humanly superior
    in a pitted road
              an empty church
                       a dug quarry -
and the rock
    the rock forever at our back

Worship the hanging tree
                        the live rock
Worship the dark bowels
                        of the cold caves
Worship the high places
                        steep as climbing
Worship the deeps
                  the steeps
                             the steps
                                        the scars
Worship the grey rock
                       the granite rock
the deep fissures
               in the cleft rock
the rooks’ nests
               in the cliff face
the fossils forged
               in the chill air
Worship the lofty dizziness
    where man rocks
lullabied against the wind-swept broken boughs
    dangling perpendicular against
              the falling screes
inconsequential in the chill air
    like uprooted trees

  "In Cheddar Gorge" is published in "Welcome To My World, Selected Poems 1973-2013", The Argaman Press. Click here to purchase the book.

Copyright © 2014 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

No comments:

Post a Comment