Highland Ki Society
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Do - The Way

Oct 21, 2014

The Road Not Taken

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

The Cloth of Islanders

 

There are no pagodas in the Highlands,

no tiny bamboo cabins to sway

like stork nests, above the Caledonian pines,

no butterfly-clad concubines

humming among the robins, awaiting a beloved lord

who is ever late, or never comes when sought.

No dragon houses, rice-papered screens

for walls or shadow-play of grass and whispers,

or scimitars of cloth; dark tipped, white-winged angel-sleeves.

But we know the shadows of betrayal, loss and exile,

carried through the forest in the melancholy air,

early frost, crisping the ribbons on the cloutie trees.

We know the blessing and the curse of poetry, and silence,

the power of a simple well-placed movement to divide and

rule or harmonise.

So when the ships came and the islanders arrived,

and unbound their bales; their cloth calligraphies,

their scrolls and all the oblique gestures of their lives,

how mysterious then,

that some among us

paused for breath and recognition;

to find among them strange familiars; echoes of our own souls,

as though some thing archaic and winged had blown through us,

and syllables we never knew we needed, for things we had no words for,

until they came,

were spoken, in flying gestures.

This is how it is with islanders;

The ocean connects us, and paper, gesture, reed,

silence, prayer.

Folded in amongst your cotton padded collars, your

bamboo reed and paper bindings, a lore we knew and longed for

and finally found, a dance of sorts,

a calling and a patterning of all that is, and lives, and moves.

An understanding flowing, with a rhyme and rhythm we've come to cherish and protect

and finally

to call our own.

 

A poem for Angus to Celebrate Charles's Shodan Grading

Beverly A'Court,  September 2013

 

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