Charles Williams in Logres

Shouldering shapes through the skies rise and run,

through town and time; Merlin beheld

the beasts of Broceliande, the fish of Nimue,

hierarchic, republican, the glory of Logres,

patterns of the Logos in the depth of the sun.

Taliessin in the crowd beheld the compelled brutes,
wildness formalized, images of mathematics,

star and moon, dolphin and pelican,

lion and leopard, changing their measure.
Over the mob's noise rose gushing the sound of the flutes.

Gawaine's thistle, Bedivere's rose, drew near:
flutes infiltrating the light of candles.

Through the magical sound of the fire-strewn air,
spirit, burning to sweetness of body,
exposed in the midst of its bloom the young queen Guinevere.

So Charles Williams, a poet largely forgotten now, but one who attempted a re-drafting of the Arthurian cycle for his own times (1886-1945) entirely as a conjuration of his own imagination rather than as a summary of existing knowledge, though he was steeped in such knowledge. His Taliesin inhabits the land of Logres as a fully realised inhabitant of a visionary realm, but note above the echo of Logres in Logos - a place where the spoken word gives rise to a world of myth. If he tended to weave spells out of abstractions, he also knew when to draw them into concrete images. Out of the maze of symbols that 'sound of flutes' wafts through the air and the candles flames burn 'to sweetness of body'. If Logres is realised through visions of Byzantium it nevertheless is realised as a place the imagination can inhabit. Like John Cowper Powys (who in some ways he is utterly unlike) he made the place his own. As we each of us must if we wish to spend time in such places.


Welsh Mythology said...

He is chiming a cynghanedd sain in the first line and his alliteration alludes to cerdd gaeth, and yes, by creating the architecture of an ideal space in song he invites us in to join him, as was the traditional approach in medieval times. He is strangely very modern and traditional at the same time, although his super subjective take on it is very unlike the court poetry of the princes. Great to read it though, thank you.

Heron said...

Well spotted!

Yes very much modern and traditionalat the same time.