Poesie: From The Battle of the Trees

The word ‘poetry’ also derives from the Greek ‘poiein’, which has the same meaning as the Sanskrit root ‘kri’, whence comes ‘karma’.

This is also why the sacred books are written in rhythmic language, clearly making of them something altogether different from mere ‘poems’ in the purely profane sense, which the anti-traditional bias of the modern ‘critics’ would have them be; and besides, in its origins poetry was by no means the vain ‘literature’ which it has become owing to a degeneration resulting from the downward march of the human cycle, and it had a truly sacred character.  Traces of this can be found as late as Western classical antiquity, where poetry was still called the ‘language of the Gods’, an expression equivalent to those we have indicated, since the Gods, that is, the ‘Devas’, are, like the angels, representations of higher states.  (The Sanskrit ‘Deva’ and the Latin ‘Deus’ are but one and the same word.)

~ René Guénon: Symbols of Sacred Science

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Indifferent bards pretend,
They pretend a monstrous beast,
With a hundred heads,
And a grievous combat
At the root of the tongue.
And another fight there is
At the back of the head.
(…)
There shall be a black darkness,
There shall be a shaking of the mountain,
There shall be a purifying furnace,
There shall first be a great wave,
And when the shout shall be heard –
Putting forth new leaves are the tops of the beech,
Changing form and being renewed from a whithered state;
Entangled are the tops of the oak.

From: ‘The Battle of the Trees’, translation by D.W. Nash, a Victorian author who also wrote ‘Taliesin or The Bards and Druids of Britain’; quoted after Robert Graves: ‘The White Goddess’

 

Poesie: Blake’s Hear the Voice of the Bard

A Bard used to be much more than a mere wordsmith.

Hear the Voice of the Bard

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who present, past, and future sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word,
That walked among the ancient trees,

Calling the lapsed soul,
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole,
And fallen, fallen, light renew!

‘O Earth, O Earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumberous mass.

‘Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
The watery shore,
Is given thee till the break of day.’

~ William Blake

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In medieval Gaelic and Welsh society, a bard was a professional poet, employed to compose eulogies for his lord. In other Indo-European societies, the same function was fulfilled by skalds, rhapsodes, minstrels and scops, among others.  A hereditary caste of professional poets in Proto-Indo-European society has been reconstructed by comparison of the position of poets in medieval Ireland and in ancient India in particular.  Bards were those who sang the songs recalling tribal history, family history and genealogies in Celtic societies.  The pre-Christian Celtic peoples maintained an intricate oral history committed to memory and transmitted by bards.

 

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker.  Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered one of the most important poets and visual artists of the Romantic Age.

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