Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lamorak and the Queen Morgause of Orkney (II)

I had gone in summer at the king's word to explore
the coast of the kingdom towards the Pole; the roar
of the ocean beyond all coasts threatened on one hand;
on the other we saw the cliffs of Orkney stand.

Caves and hollows in the crags were filled with the scream
of seamews nesting and fleeting; the extreme theme
of Logres rose in harsh cries and hungry storms,
and there, hewn in a cleft, were hideous huge forms.

I remembered how the archbishop in Caerleon at a feast
preached that before the making of man or beast
the Emperor knew all carved contingent shapes
in torrid marsh temples or on cold crookt capes.

These were the shapes only the Emperor knew,
unless Coelius Vibenna and his loathly few,
squat by their pot, by the twisted hazel art
sought the image of that image within their heart.

Sideways in the cleft they lay, and the seamews' wings
everywhere flying, or the mist, or the mere slant of the things
seemed to stir them; then the edge of the storm's shock
over us obliquely split rock from rock.

Ship and sculpture shuddered; the crags' scream
mingled with the seamews'; Logres' convulsed theme
wailed in the whirlwind; we fled before the storms,
and behind us loosed in the air flew giant inhuman forms.

Taliessin through Logres (1938)
Charles Williams

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