Ceres

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A statue of Ceres watches over Devizes from the top of the Corn Exchange…

*

My name is Ceres, Goddess of the Corn

I stand above the Market Place and stare

With stony face, half dressed, and with a horn

Towards the North, the hill, the over there

I’ve lovely hair, but long the days have passed

When men admired the firmness of my rack

I’m old, and to be fair I can’t be arsed

Once had one’s day is never coming back

I’ve sewn my seed, been fertilised, and borne

My little birds and thrown them to the skies

Seen men come to the Market Cross to mourn

Seen marryings, and mayhem in The Vize

I’m old, but oh I see, from up on high

The secret things, the glory of the sky

*

© Gail Foster 5th January 2018

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Burning Angels; Winter Solstice, 2017

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for the Druids of Avebury, and my muse

*

So many kings of old have come to me

At midnight, in the winter, at the still

In crowns of holly, clothed with mystery

Come riding proudly down from yonder hill

With torches flaming, salamander eyes

Ablaze with ancient summers full of lust

And I have had them all within my thighs

And I have turned them all to ice and dust

Except for he who keeps my fires alight

When darkness falls too deep to understand

Who lies with me all winter, till the night

Recedes, and spring returns to seed the land

With him I make, beneath the mistletoe

The burning shapes of angels in the snow

*

© Gail Foster 16th December 2017

Here, Again; The Autumn Equinox

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This poem was written for the Avebury Gorsedd; 24th September 2016

for everyone who was there, and for those who were not…

*

I’m here, again…

Come riding in, upon the western wave

My hair all wove with golden leaves, my breast

As pale as moonlight on a hidden grave

And all the sins of summer long confessed

I come, again…

In sweeping skirts, with white swan feathers strewn

To brush the summer dust from weary grass

Make ash of aspen, damp the flame of noon

Before the frost freeze water into glass

I bring, to you…

Windfallen apples, berries from the hedge

Long shadows on the barrows, and the chalk

Wild winds to stir the willows and the sedge

And mist, and myth, down every path you walk

I’m here, again…

The promise of the harvest to fulfil

The energy of autumn, streaming through

The swirling springs that spiral round the hill

To drench the land in red and russet hue

I come, again…

Between the longest day and shortest night

To fill the blood and marrow of your bones

With all the orange glory of the light

Before the dark descend upon the stones

I bring, to you…

A cornucopia of ripened fruit

Dark juices of the vine in bottles bright

To nourish soul and body, to transmute

Your thought to dream, your dream to second sight

For I am She…

Am Autumn writ, in every field and tree

Am mistress of the Owl and running Hare

So yield unto my kiss, and blesséd be

And dance with me, oh Druid, if you dare…

 *

@ Gail Foster 23rd September 2016

 

The Work; Summer Solstice, Avebury

Written for the Gorsedd of Caer Abiri, Avebury, Wiltshire;

a Druid rhyme of seven verses

***

Across the land this morn, a roll of light

Gave birth to shadows, cast from chalky hills

The larks ascended, sang away the night

Vibrated sky to waking with their trills

‘Tis Summer; round the circle swirls the breeze

As darkness yields unto the swell of day

As every meadow hums with birds and bees

And scent of elder steals the breath away

This is the time, when earth craves heaven’s kiss

All full of lust, all bursting in its bloom

All lost in heady momentary bliss

Before the fall, and crashing down to doom

Now comes the wren, as if from nowhere blown

Within its beak a lively twig of oak

And suddenly, forth from a door of stone

Springs sacred fire, and wild midsummer smoke

And from within the smoke the King appears

From black stream spilled, the son of mountain high

With shield burnished bright by virgins’ tears

And salamander flame within his eye

Upon his head a crown of acorns sits

He holds a horn of gold from faery lands

Across his face a flick of fear flits

He plants his feet on earth, and solid stands

And She; blue butterflies around her head

Bare breasted, barefoot, riding a white mare

With piercing speedwell eyes to blind the dead

And poppies red all woven in her hair

She rides, in to the circle, on her horse

Dismounts in silence, looks him in the face

Above them both, the sun, stopped in its course

For here is now, and only now, this place

He touches her, he places sword to cup

She speaks some ancient magic without sound

Above their heads the heavens open up

Bright waterfalls of light pour to the ground

She touches him, and fossils shake from sleep

Electric rivers rise with shock and force

To flood the sky with fire from the deep

All light in circuit, flowing back to source

Just now, oh now, now come, now come; now gone

All energy subsides, and colours dim

They rise up from the ground they laid upon

He steps away, and bows, and She to him

A feather from a lark falls gracefully

To land among the flowers where they sat

He fades into the smoke, and so does She

And so The Work is done, and that is that

The wren returns, and sits upon a stone

A holly berry glistens at its feet

It sings a song through all the ages known

A song of earthly bliss, and heaven sweet

For all the Gods are one God, sang the wren

All Goddesses one Goddess, ‘neath one Sun

And we are one another, Gods, and men

As God and Goddess, joined together; One

***

© Gail Foster 2016

 

She Comes

Silbury Spring

A rhyme written for the Spring Equinox

and the Gorsedd of the Bards

at Avebury, Wiltshire

*

For all the night she trod the furrowed earth

As she has walked all winter in her wake

In seeking for the child she brought to birth

The maiden bride whom Hades chose to take

The gibbous moon is waxing to the bright

And shedding shifting shadows on the lands

One single moonbeam spills down through the night

Upon the rutted earth on which she stands

Made heavy by the weight of mother’s tears

The ground beneath her feet begins to yield

The imprint of a child’s foot appears

Emerging from the darkness of the field

The dawn is tinting grey the silken skies

The lifting mist moves gulls to take the air

She swears she hears these words within their cries

She comes, she comes, she comes, is nearly there…

Around the hill of Silbury swirl the springs

From many sources meeting there as one

Upon the fence a bardic blackbird sings

His songs of seasons ended and begun

The heron stands in wait down by the brook

The willows’ leaves weave rills upon the stream

The cormorant is fishing for the rook

Whose shadow shapes a fish from daybreak’s gleam

From alder trees drip drops of ancient dew

Like shining crystals, in to waters deep

The grey of morn becomes a brighter blue

New lambs are woken from the dark womb’s sleep

A muffled drumbeat pounds within her bones

Thrills through her feet and trembles in her chest

Draws from four corners people of the stones

To stand and lay the winter to his rest

Can it be so, she thinks, that she will come

And willingly escape the thrall of Hades

Be called by this fast beating of the drum

To dance among the wild lords-and-ladies

The drum, the drum, the Druid in the East

The daylight shattering the glass of night

Behold the mead and cake that form the feast

Behold the glorious blessing of the light

The blazing gorse flames yellow on the hill

Bright shafts of sun surround the Druid’s head

She comes, she comes, my daughter liveth still

Released at last from fathoms of the dead

Her eyes are purple crocuses; her hair

Is woven through with wood anemones

She shocks the eyes, her presence is so rare

And strong, as hyacinths upon the breeze

She wears the sun a-shimmer on her dress

In folds of drops of snow and celandines

And, as befits she with the power to bless

Comes riding on a stag of seven tines

She speaks unto the awed and silent crowd

“I come” she says “I bring the fire of life

I come to cast my seeds on fields ploughed

To quell your hunger and relieve your strife

I bring you daylight from the depths of hell

Where I with Hades am forever wed

Of Christ and Dionysus I shall tell

In sacred stories of the risen dead”

The crowd are stunned to silence, robbed of breath

She came, she came, brought winter to his knees

Defied the dreadful tide of dark and death

To bless the ground with shoots, and trees with leaves

The ancient Druid offers up the cup

The wine of her libations there to sip

He bows his head, as down she stoops to sup

And touch the cup upon her rosy lip

And with this act the sunlight floods the sky

The spell is broken by the touch of earth

And Demeter runs forward with a cry

To hold the maiden that she brought to birth

The seasons come, the seasons go, and all

Shall rise and fall and fade and reappear

And Spring shall once more answer to the call

Of Hades at the dying of the year

But here, by mother love and heat of day

Persephone is made a child again

To run upon the hills; to dance and play

And plant her flowers in the world of men

*

© Gail Foster 2016

The Solstice Door

The light is coming… and I wish you well

*

The Solstice Door

*

Behind the running, running man the land

Lies silent, fallow, haunted by the cry

Of one lone mourning rook who flies alone

Inscribing solemn circles in the sky

There is no time to take a backward look

Just running, running, running, running blind

He leaves the flowered garlands that she wove

With ribbons bright, with summer’s love, behind

He runs with only hope in empty hands

All faint of heart, with life blood running cold

The chill of winter earth beneath his feet

All water turned to ice in frozen fold

All out of breath with minutes yet to live

He runs, through elder grove and stand of yew

Runs, seeking for the ancient Solstice door

Described in tales the bards and ancients knew

 ‘Till suddenly he stumbles on a glade

All silent where no wild bird wheels or calls

And in the glade there stands a single stone

And on the ground a moon dark shadow falls

And there, within the shadow’s light he sees

That which before him other men have found

A stairway leading down in to the earth

A dark descending path in to the ground

No way but down now, this the only way

He gathers one last breath, and full of fear

Goes down the old and foot worn ancient steps

That lead towards the portal of the year

How dark the endless steps of winter’s stair

That shadow down, down to the Solstice door

To where, beneath the door a chink of light

Hints soft and bright across the cold stone floor

He sits upon the bottom step to rest

Reflect, and contemplate the year behind

And lo, she comes, bedecked in leaves and fruit

And dancing, dancing, through his weary mind

Forget me not, she sings; I am still here

I wait for you, for life to shift and stir

And through the keyhole and the chink there blows

A fragrant waft of birch and silver fir

Reviving, blessing, soft upon his face

The promise of new life upon her breath

Touched by her grace he weeps upon the step

For she has saved him with her love from death

Another year dies, another lives

He sits and waits; she watches from afar

And as he waits the light in darkness shifts

And creaks the ancient Solstice Door ajar…

*

by Gail