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Poetry Pleases: The Forest Of Creation

Caroline Glyn's poem tells of the place of making and ending.

I came one night to the forest of creation
Through the dark of sleep and the fear of a dream,
To where the trees stand in immortal fire,
Though their standing is dancing; and I came
To the burning glade at the forest's heart
Where three trees, like angels, spread their branches
About a table, to guard it and to welcome
Travellers who come to that place of making and ending.
There in that dancing stillness, in the glade of three trees,
I feasted on the flame they gave me. I drank their fiery wine,
And all the while I ate and drank, the holy trees were singing.
But it was only slowly I knew that they were singing to me.

The darkness you passed through is for your sake a veiling,
The darkness of earth and sea, of the mind's hiding,
Dark of the far stars, darkness of the beginning.
For the dark of distance and the dark of forgetting
Are a shield to you from the light beyond burning
In heights and depths; from your own heart blazing,
And from the still white radiance of creating.
But beyond the fiery spiral of the stars' turning
And the much fierier vortex of the blood's pumping,
The darkness does not hold you; but we are standing,
And have stood, since we sang at your world's making.
And through the night of silence before your existing
We kept vigil, in the emptiness listening
To the one cry, the single word, for ever sounding
Over void and fullness; reverberating
Back to itself in its own rejoicing.
For you did not teach us movement with your world's struggling,
But even we, the first trees, from our planting
Have moved to the rhythm of another circling
That has in itself the pattern of all worlds' revolving,
and the agony, too, of your strife and suffering
Which it holds, itself untorn, and moves to the healing
Of all things through its own one unceasing
Dance of creation and our endless answering.
You have called the dark city the place of losing,
But you will name us when you know us, the forest of finding;
You will feel us close when you hear the silent singing
That sometimes in yourself you have heard echoing;
You will be among us in your guessing and wondering
And in the long slow joy of remembering;
And you shall see us in the country of your awakening.

I did not know any more now who it was that was speaking.
I was passing through valleys of stars, the great brave ones shining,
The ones I had always loved and had watched for their rising:
Arcturus and Altair, Vega and Sirius flaring,
Antares and Aldebaran in crimson and scarlet burning,
All of them in their beauty and I with them flying,
Until they danced so fast that I could not see them moving.
But a great stillness seemed to come, and there was no more singing.
I saw nothing but an arch of sapphire sky, falling
Sheer to unguessed depths from zenith beyond any seeing,
And in that sweep of colour one streak of such brightness soaring
That, except for the fire I had tasted, I could not have borne looking;
But I knew for all that the golden star ascending,
Rising for ever and for ever still, burning and yet floating,
In its sovereign brightness held, and all brightness holding
In its own free life, that is the first dance of creating.

It shot from the core of fire, that arrow of poised lightning,
For above me was the still heart, all motion shaping and transcending.
But I saw only my own vision darkening.
Yet I heard in the new silence, as it were a memory of shouting -
As though a mighty voice somewhere had barely ceased calling
And in that stretched firmament the resonance were lingering,
The echo of that cry of power that with such gladness was ringing
That the very sound itself was like something living
And even unheard, half-remembered, had set me crying and laughing.
Then through that vault of space I heard another voice answering.
It was a voice I seamed to know so well, exultantly hailing
The first, as though I had heard its hail before, some long-ago morning;
and I could feel it throbbing in me, healing and remaking,
The cry of strength and love; the Word over all sounding,
The thunder of creation, destroying and renewing,
And still the sound seemed to grow, rising and swelling,
Until, intoxicated with it, I felt myself falling.
Then a path of light from that arrow seemed to come seeping,
as though he sent out a ray to catch me as I went hurtling,
And tip me down the trail of the brightness of his own rising.
I saw it below me, a shining track, and then I knew nothing.


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