I am a hill of poetry

first poem in a poem cycle in progress 1995/2007

The title of this cycle is taken from The Song of Amergin:

“said to have been chanted by the chief bard of the Milesian invaders as he set foot on the soil of Ireland in the year of the world 2376 (1268 B.C.E)”. Written originally in Old Goidelic, the only surviving versions are in colloquial Irish translation.

The phrase ‘I am a hill of poetry’ represents knowledge and is assigned to the month of September, which has the vine as its tree and is the month of the titmouse and the poet “the least abashed of men as the titmouse is the least easily abashed of birds. Both band together in companies in this month and go on circuit in search of a liberal hand; and as the titmouse climbs spirally up a tree, so the poet also spirals to immortality. And Variegated is the colour of the titmouse, and of the Master-poet’s dress.”

— Robert Graves, The White Goddess, pp. 205-208, p. 299

Note: This cycle of 13 poems is based on the lunar calendar Robert Graves describes in The White Goddess. Each month is associated with specific natural/mystical characteristics and a particular tree.

The cycle consists of a poem for each month based on a particular person’s birth date and character.

Karen Margolis

Berlin, 2011

I am a hill of poetry

on the birth of Quila Lulu Anastasia

14 January 1995

I am a hill of poetry

my tip houses an eagle’s nest

where dreams hatch into song

my base flows into the well of life

to join the subterranean rivers

in caves that echo with the playing of a dulcimer;

my belly is filled with the runes of ages

and the hand of the bard strokes my mound

like a mother caressing the head of her infant child.

Precious ores run in my deepest veins

mingling with the pulsing rhythms of the earth

in lustrous ecstasy. Rhymes

flick their tongues from the mouths of lizards

lying sundrenched in my surface crannies.

In summer grass covers my gentle slopes,

in autumn the tree gods shower me with colour,

in winter my thoughts are naked, unashamed,

and when the year wakes to spring again

I’m still there, breeding lilacs and hexameters

I am a hill of poetry.

Enter my gates carved by the singers of psalms

to let in the light at the winter solstice.

Crawl through the tunnel maze to my ancient mystery:

the journey is long and hard

the rebirth into poetry is spiked with pain

and promises only rediscovery

of what life takes away

each day we grow farther from childhood.

I am a hill of poetry.

Come inside me. All my passages spread out

like starry beams. In my hollow core

bowls of incense fill the air with perfume

a bed of feathers is waiting for your weary tune.

Lie down. Close your eyes.

Shut out straying conversations.

Drift on a tide of rapturous melancholy

down to castles hung with tapestries

where troubadors tell tales of victories;

weave the stuff that dreams are made of

with the words that flood your mind

press them between the pages of a book

that closes only at the edge of time.

I am a hill of poetry.

I stand here by the grace of nature.

One day the earth will open up and swallow me

into the canyons of desire.

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