“I will guide you like a moonbeam”
You think you can take bruised
Words and fill them with
Your scorn and malice
The hatred of your brutal heartlessness
As if to distill the world and all its glory
Through the sieve of scorn
And spit it out unblessed
Into a hazy mess
within which you cannot find a home
but is there not a home in words
can you not enter into them
as if there was a door
into a stream that you could prize open
in silent trembling;
as if treading upon hallowed ice,
above the pure depths
where all sound
all presence exists
in half-forgotten light?
Old Wis’s House
On the shore of Massaltham at the base of Fair-Child’s mount in the Red-hills, Jalo saw the ship arrive like the first raindrop in a puddle. It was bringing a song with it, and he was trying to hear it.
Since skimming stones on the beachfront and watching the swell of the waves cascade against early morning fishing boats, he had done little but whistle and clean his toes in the biting waters. He was lost in his mind’s shimmering, as he gazed onto the waters with his piercing blue eyes he thought he saw the prow again breaking through the clouds. Somewhere between the cascading waves he had found a path to wander on the pebbles, calculating a path for his next adventures out onto the freezing waters. It was a day for wandering, and the wind skitted freely through his loose auburn curls. His thoughts were out on the horizon’s edge, just below where the sun declared itself behind the grey translucent skies.
The breaming echo of the swell itself gave him the sense that his daydream was bout to pass. On the horizon itself he knew the icy currents would arrive finally at Palaith and then out further West to Qrecill, the land of twisting bark and the Forest men, of which he had heard of from tired tradesmen and their lonely cruises out at sea. out. He was dreaming of a good meal, of good company and a sense of the dawn sunshine upon the front lawn and his wet hair. This was to be a lovely day, with little to do but think with the waves with the goats at his side.
The morning had passed just like that and he had not even noticed missing meals. There was a dull ache at the pit of his stomach, his hair was caked against his face with sand, he was waiting for something. He belonged in that spot, enclosed by the cliffs, facing out onto the Ocean and her murmur. There it was now, the ship, simple and steady and very much on its way, carried by a light breeze to Island bay.
Jaloh hoped that the ship carried Salam. Salam was the Sorcerer’s maid and the sorcerer’s name was Old Wìssteoora. Salam herself had five small goats, which she kept in the old man’s garden and Jaloh had two of his own. Jaloh was hoping for her company, and he was hoping to be silent with her and let the sea provide a backdrop to their passing together. Seeing the ship he began to hear it’s song, it was singing gently and within the waves and of the waves;
“O little Ship
Whom do you carry?
O little ship
Don’t you tarry!
In you come like a
Take the mighty waves
Like a skip along the pond
Just one at a time!
Just one at a time!”
Jaloh liked to hear the sea sing, he knew not where his song came from, but it always arrived in quietness, at least recently it had. Now the skills that Jaloh had were simple skills and often he liked to keep silent. For with heart’s skill in his moments of inner silence, he could hear Songs other’s couldn’t and he could collect them inside of himself like they were writing themselves into him. This was something special and he knew among the Songatherers, that his name was “sent one” who “belongs to the stars”.
The songs Jalo heard were simple and yet bigger even than themselves and he was laughing at the waves thoughts. He said to himself in his mind “Yes this must be Salam coming in now, I can see her there at the prow”.
Salam was the only one who knew of Jaloh’s secret skills, other elves gathered songs, but she knew that he was gifted above the others. She listened to him even though he didn’t speak, she could listen to him thinking with the waves. This is why they were friends. Just at that moment the boat whistled in and steeped as it were on the shore, mast upright, prow facing into the stones. Aboard a little troup of sea-urchins were scarpping among themselves over the last of the provisions and there was Salam, with feisty orange hair and green eyes, staring back with a bold gaze that countered her gentle countenance.
Jaloh gazed back, in his heart’s ear he was steady to hear her laughter peering from out from out of her mouth. She threw herself onto the shore, and her boots glided upon the sand. At once she communicated to Jaloh that he must follow her. She did this with a quick “Jaloh, my brother of the stars, quick to Old Wis’ house! We will be late and he has something for us.”
They stepped quickly up the reddened path and the chalk huts were coming into focus, surrounded by brackened foliage. At the back of the huts a proud oak-tree stood magnificent as below it arching beams you make the profile of Old Wis’ house, and there was the sounds of chiselling as they approached. The entered together into the dark hut. Wìsteorra hadn’t heard them coming and was working on a wooden sculpture of a giant figure holding a sun in its hands. He was surrounded by thousands of perfectly carved wooden figures and before the whole history of the Starwatchers was outpouring in wooden grain.
The shores of Masaltham are special. They are special for their story is one in which the sun has never set upon their frothy outlook without blessing a new tale.
Thalo peered out from the ships prow, he could hear the mast above furtively gliding along the eastern current; the air pockets loomed above and surged out onto into the expanse. It was cold. Thalo’s hand were cold, his mind at peace but his heart weary.
Jaloh was not like the other elves. For from his birth he had not spoken a single word. He was neither mute nor deaf. Yet if you forced him to bring forth a sentence, a word, a song, he would gaze back you inquisitively. Amogst the elves, stillness and tranquillity were virtues, so Jaloh was not ostracised yet many considered him an oddity and he spent much time alone under the stars. He loved to walk and from his earliest years, he cared for the animals that the elves relied upon. In this way he came into the possession of seven goats; Bil, Til, Koli, Flo, Pai, Kiti and Mina. The youngest and Kiti and Mina were only two winters and then the others had come together four winters ago. Jaloh fed them acorns that he gathered from the Grove just to the East of the Village. He took them there every day where they could eat and rest in the sun.
seven goats; Bil, Til, Koli, Flo, Pai, Kiti and Mina.
Red-Hills/ Fair-child’s Mount
Song of the Red-Hills
Moonlight of clarity
Over and above the mountains of flames
Silently you take your radiant throne
And gaze upon us in your splendour
You are the purest of Heaven’s Maids
A kindly blessing at the end of the day
Let us enter into your silent splendour.
Campfire at dusk – Jaloh, Yiah Muirtha and Ea
Then evening fell upon them in silent surrender to the peace of the advancing moonlight. The company settled, rested in the mountains; a great tapestry of woven colours in the dusk light. Jaloh felt as though this fest for his eyes would sustain him into the evening with thoughts of serenity, tranquillity and joy. Yia began tending to the fire, staring at the flames, she thought for a moment that they belonged to sunset itself, which danced like fire on the great cusps of the ridge on the horizon. “It’s fine to eat she whispered to Jaloh”. There goats had fallen asleep gently around them, whilst some grazed at the foliage appearing among the snow. After the soup of mountain vegetables, night fell upon them like a blanket. The stars began to chime, Jaloh thought that they began to relate a chorus of distant song but too soon he was asleep.
Song to Dusk Mountains
Do I stare at mountains?
Or at some woven treasure
Tapestried, hanging greatly
I know not what I see
For all is some great Art
Breaking forth in song
Look how even the robed heavens
Cloaking the mountain tops
Seemingly adore in union
With those ridges
The peace of silent splendour
As they too ebb into the sky
As if like incense blossoming;
All is fragrant in this air
The mountain declares its solemn peace
It breaks the heart to make whole.
Song of the Lantern Trees
It was in this manner then that Jaloh came to know of the Kingdom of Enchanted Trees. Following the twinkling of the Lantern Tree, Jaloh made his way along the moonlit path. Half in reverie, he observed that each tree shone in it’s colour of brightly lit stars. Field upon field stretching out, as if dancing out to the horizon they arose like frozen fireworks that shivered in the frost. The mountains loomed under the stars like praying giants. All was at a standstill but for the shimmering of the frosty trees. Jaloh noticed why the lanterns had taken him in this way with their beckoning message. He saw as if in an afterthought captured and toiled his mind to hear anew, that each tree was singing its own silent tune, enticing from within their kaleidoscope firework of leaves. The voices were gentle but they arose together:
Take the silent path
under the moon
follow to the hearth
of your heart.
The beckoning lantern leaves
Never fail to bring into
This great shimmering
Shimmer with us ruby hearts
And all of you with
In this secret valley
In which you can meet us.
SONG OF THE OCEAN
The Ice Stream – Eccean – The liquid of silence
It was a stream like no other. Enshrined by the mountains it formed a circled and seemingly had no end or beginning. Plucked from within, like by a harpist’s caress, Jaloh yearned for the icy waters. The snow topped mountains were caving in from the night skies, as if to form the abyss of some great Font or Blessing Place. Jaloh fell to his knees in the blessedness of peace. His elven heart yearned for communion with the silence of the icy waters, from which the song of soundlessness outpoured like a misty vapour. He did not know how long he spent in this silence and yet his heart was growing into a stream and stream was filling the Crown like a cup. He held it now so as to replenish it in the icy waters, all the time his hands were trembling. It was then that he noticed the stars, they were endlessly pouring down upon the Crown. Their distant glance as if gleaming together to view a great spectacle they now came closer blinking. Jaloh noticed himself that when he took the cup itself to fill it, even the stars themselves were filling up, and he dared not look up and see if it was but a reflection that he was gathering. And it was so that Jaloh filled the cup of the crown, with the source of that deep river and he took this prize now within his hands and turned away with warm tears.
In the mountains
A memory mellifluous
Imploding and resurrecting forth in song
“Oh mountain stream what is your song?”
“My song is the ecstacy of life
I am pure and full of splendour”
“From where do you come and to where do you go
For I am caught in your outpouring?”…
The fairies of the stream
Then Jaloh heard the fairies of the stream and he began to follow their call yet he did not know if he perceived them like a floating vision of colour, now dancing above the clapping bubbles, now frolicking above the last snow. Jaloh’s hear raced as he perceived a fairy plunge into the icy water to swim in the tumbling pure spouting stream. They were delightful creatures with the finest wings as if off crystal brimming lace and they delighted in the water’s purity, as if belonging to the song that he now began to hear tumbled within him. It was as if the stream began to pour into him and he felt cleansed by the calling song. The fairies sat to watch him as Jaloh. In his stillness he felt as if he belonged to the river. Then suddenly he hear a rapturous applaud of tongues, realising suddenly as if awoken from a memory, that the bubble’s voices were proclaiming a new chorus….
“feed on our delight
we are the ecstacy of yearning
see how invigorated your tender heart
belongs to the pouring forth
we are song and singing
we are the song of life
drink from our song
tumble in the foaming depths
drink of our ice as we outpour.
And sonorously the time began to ebb to and fro, and Jaloh did not know if he was asleep and dreaming. And the fairies glided around his head with their wings like a heartbeat, with the clapping of the stream’s song.
Along the mountain curvature Jaloh strode, ahead was Yia, and the goats followed gambling among the rockery. They silently made there way through the trees winding until they saw on the horizon a great snow covered mountain, now blue in the afternoon’s gaze as if it formed a great waterfall in the sky. They sat in the copse in the peace of the snow, taking out their fruit leaves to make tea, using the snow on the hot stove for water. They gulped their drinks as they planned the future pathway.
850 th season of the stars
It grapsed failingly, water-bludgeoned, bled from the waves a body shuddered. An icesheet of water suffocating from the depths. Gapsing it fell into the dark morning light. No stars lit the shore. There was a brutal crush of waves on the horizon. A billowing flume of tin water, burying the broken form as the rain consumed the air with sheets of screeching nails. Shadows flitted on the line of ripped, shattering waves. Grabbing for the darkness, Old Wìssteoora’s body was dragged to the Village in the red-hills. It was slowly making its way down the shoreline in a morbid procession amongst the shallow rocky culverts. This is the first time he had seen the shores that birthed his exile since the days of the star orchards; where all was light, where the fruit was ripe fallen and sent to the glittering heavens on raised bows of gold. The stars had been sent up in a crescendo of molten light. That was centuries ago. Nobody had believed him then of the impending abyss, and now he returned in death throes. These were cruel times, this was the last outpost and death was certainly coming at dawn.
And so he should have died had not the elves taken him back to their homes. Golden helmets flashed. The swords cut through the night rains. The blood edging the corner of his eyelid, the bruised skull, the saltwater in his aching arms, he was scraped along from the shoreline into the darkness. Every pebble raked his skin and tore his flesh. There was a terror still reeling in the air, for Wìssteoora had witnessed the death of a star, and his eyes were recoiling. His tongue had been cut from his mouth and it has been left to bleed. The elves had to keep him alive. They sprung now into life, swiftly wrapping the body in leaves, and carried on horseback returned Wìssteoora back to his home.
They needed to hear his words, the account of what had happened. Too many stars were dying now. The music was wrong. The songs that were siphoned were raucous, violent, disturbing. For the elves were song gatherers by name and nature. The Song Gatherers had long dwelt at Fair-child mount. They followed the first of the star-giants, down from the icy northern pinnacle before the star-seasons had begun, before any orchard had bloomed.
But that was centuries ago. Now little is known of the stars or where they came from. The skies are dark. The light has long passed.
4 th Season of the stars
The Village of the Stargatherers was nestled at the heart of arched verdant hills forming together at a point in the clouded misty skies. It was a small village of stone-white carved architecture, golden parapets and humble chalk dwellings that grouped around the peak. On an icy wind’s tail, a bird’s-eye view revealed a great leaf amidst the icy waters; the apparition of Fair-child’s Mount. That was where the council of the Wordsmiths was held and where the Songs were purified and distilled, ready for star building.
On clear days, the Mount’s crest was a blazing fiery gold. At the heart of the island it gave the impression of a meandering autumnal leaves rustling in the great tides and that was before any stars had been built. For when the star-seeds are planted, the skies above Fair-child’s Mount are aglow in a rapture of anticipation. The distillation of a song, that brings the star slowly into being ensures the environment is jolted. The air buzzes. Life is in the air. This was the settlement of the star-elves, where Tungla lived, where his ancestors had watched the stars, where the stars had guided his people in the Ancient Days to this very Island. This is where Tungla learnt the skills of the stargatherers, to hear melodies, to gather them and keep them safe for future enterprises of greater stars to adorn the skies outstretched in the black cloak of the night.
Grow the stars from the songs that call,
Cast them deep into the night
Then when the call comes
In the darkness seek the light of darkness
Where beyond the blaze of bows
At the fiery arrow’s end
A new course is found
Where the chorous begins once more
New starseeds blossoming at journeys end
A wild flower blooming in the night of heavens
A chaos of light
The birthing of new creativity
Celebrated by new songs for Gathering
Inland the rivers of To’ Gomlo and Dramwyra, flowed out to the east and their tributaries suckled the coastline, whilst out west like a great azure shard erupted a tide of constant and babbling water; the mightsy Brahaya distilling into three fingers cutting forward; Somolo, Sisda and Tham. The bird’s talk gathers there. These rivers are the spines of the great leaf, three east and three west, but they cannot see from where the waters flows or to where it flows because their source is a hidden pool deep below Fair-Child’s Mount – where the water-fäiries live in the water of Olmængla.
The deep waters of this cavern are drawn forth from the Rock of Fair-Child – the first of the Star-children, who delighted at the dawn of Uma but fell down to the earth when the stars fell in the First Rain. For this is a long tale, and many stars have passed through birth, life and death since it’s first telling among the Starwatchers.
SONG OF THE WAVES;
The waves were always thinking, sometimes they had great and mighty thoughts, other times they slumped onto the shore like a weary plough. There were never any gaps and in any case they were always on the move. They carried themselves to shore with the rhythmic clumsiness of an interweaving weft, upon a Great Loom with no ends but the mist. A mouthful of pebbles here signalled the next echo of a song, beyond itself, and even distance, or thoughts; imagined by the waves. A cutting shot of spray spoke upon the yellow sands toying with the seagulls. There was a mumbling from the depth too – a breath of silver fish. There was no end to their play night or day.
I will guide you with a moonbeam,
I will be your inner stillness,
Fall on me in your distress
In my arms and my caress
I will guide you like a moonbeam
As the beast entered, Thalo trembled to the core, he felt as if he were to be decimated by the impulse of despair threatening all he gathered within himself to resist the urge to dissolve and never return.
SONG OF THE STARS
He travels to the birth of a star
Star seeds – field…
The star field glowed and with it a ripple of tears melted through the chaos. All was covered in a blue glow and many were the stars that grew there.
Liar – he is told that it is his imagnastion… battle for the imaginsation, singing with the universe, co-creation…
I will plan an escape from my head,
I will plan an escape to the stars,
one day they will see that I am made of stardust,
that I was wrought in an agony of starlight,
at the beginning of the stars,
when the fields were bare where no foot could tread.
I will plan an escape from my head,
I will not corrode,
I will seek your eyes,
I will make them my home.
Stealing songs ….
The destroyer came and with it all the joy that budded through my eyelashes went. Inside I became a warground a battle ground. I was punished from the inside out, nothing I could choose would help.
Walking like a corpse, Thalo forgot to look into the eyes of the world. He forgot to look into the radiance of things. They past him like a nothingness. Even spectres can hear, but Thalo was the spectre of swaying grass. The destoeyer had stolen his songs. The conflict had left him bereft. He walked with no sens e of belon ging and his insdes gnashed at him. His mouth was agape but he did not even realise.
Suddenly a chasm was opened and his mind contempolatyed the form of a beast, and it was his eyes as smile that brought horror. There was horror in the smile of the beast. Thalo fell in on himself, he scrambled into his hheart and looked for a current of a song. Hwe was fallibng and he felt destruction in his bones. Around him was a storm of confusion. The beast began to mock him, he intone d a banal tune which he repated in Thalo’s ears as if to suck the spirit out of his fibres. Inside Thalo was weepeing and his insides were cascading he felt a torrent out at sea passing through his ribcaghes.
‘I will break every sinew you have said destyoer’ you will not see hearts, we will not see eyes, you will corrode in your mind, you will become an illsuionl and no longer will you speak flowers.
At this poin t Thalo was flung headfirst into what could only be seen to him as a mirrored parody. The beast had become a Tree who leaves were mirrors. Thalo w as filled with rage and he looked into the mirrored leaves with fearsome eyes. The tree shook with glee. And Thalo looked into a thousand eyes. And the eyes wqere piercing him with pure hatred, he seized with a caludron of jealous envy. A myipoic vision od silvershards, teeth gnashing at his heart. Sunddenly he was surrounded by wolf –spirits. At once he grabbed his bow and darted to the slopes. He called deeply with mind for support and then the flowers begun to sing.
I will be your inner friendship.
I will be constancy.
Stay with me I will not wane.
For you and I in this field
Can defeat with grace.
Jaloh, friend of Salam apprentice of the Guild of Wordsmiths, arose at the command of his master. Nothing was said but all listened. The Guild had gathered in the heart of a great rock at the centre of the township. This was the third day after the new moon’s waxing, and the starlight trickled through the carved door. There was no time. Thalo opened his mouth and breather deeply. And in the silence all gathered for the appraisal, such was the practice of the guild to gather at this time to listen anew:
“This is my great secret. It is silence. It is the crisp dew and golden eyelid of dawn, distilling through the great wheeling of libations in the waters that magnify my presence that arouse the great sequences of life and urgency of all living creatures. These waters are my silence.. It is tranquillity of a calming sea after the ravaging of storm. I am the name-giver, I have let my freedom describe itself a new into the waters of my silence. My silence shelters and nurtures all songs. I made lilies in my silence. I am fashioner of the hidden words, the hidden song. The brook is encouraged by silence to declare its rapturous applause, it’s siren call if you so see it. All stories belong to me in your freedom. Thus spoke the nothingness. I give and I take, I do not say. There is nothing in me that says for nothing of me says, I do say, I am silence. Cradle the inner ear of your heart, to my silence, let me bleed the blood of my silent waters voice into your very own heart. I give you my silence as my greatest offering to you. It is the very gem of my gift, it is beating pulse of my hiddenness.”