872 AD : Colga mcConnagann abbot of Kynnetty, the best and elegantest Poet in the kingdome, and their cheefest chronicler, died.
The Annals of Clonmacnoise
Poetry, that distillation of the human experience thro’ the saga & symphony of words, has been the chief pursuit & soul-motor of my life, thus far. In the final months of my twenty-first year, upon the 1997 ‘Day of Fools’, I left forever my student accomodation at 66 Sackville Street, Barnsley, clutching a yellow suitcase full of poetry books. A romantic, but rather a cumberous moment, I had decided I was to be a poet, & a poet, since then, I have become. A decade after my embarkation, when settled into my Wordsworthien temple in East Lothian, Heather Lodge, I began to realise that I was in fact slam-dunk in the middle of a twenty year course of training as a bardic druid, i.e. a Pendragon. Indeed, this very book & others I have been recently publishing mark the end of my studies, so to speak.
‘In their schools they are said to learn by heart,’ wrote Julius Ceasar about the Celtic bards of Gaul, ‘an extraordinary number of lines, and in consequence sometimes to remain under instruction for as many as twenty years.’ My own ‘twenty years’ instruction commenced about the 20th May 1997, when in a small thin notebook I wrote my first brief ‘Philosophy of Poetry’ as a lily-eyed, 20-year-old initiate into the artform which would soon come to dominate my life. Early edicts contained in that juvenile essay include;
Poetry is the poet’s psychotherapy
Poets are sublimely arrogant beasts of Divine Inspiration
Poems can be worked on, like a gardener tending his roses, & often sprout seeds which lead to other poems
Poetry is my bastion, my own safe haven from the world
Since etching down those wee ditiches I have lived thro’ significant periods when I have turn’d away from the paths of composition & exercise, surveying instead with some intensity the mechanics of my chosen art. This book is an assemblage of three of these periods, in which I felt intellectually obliged to make a serious attempt at a poetical thesis.
The first led to a final assembly & edit of essays upon the gorgeous Sicilian island of Marettimo between December 2006 & January 2007. The second period arose just I was beginning to approach the close of my ‘twenty years’ training; over the span of a couple of months in early 2015, I created a number of Pendragon Lectures at my base back home in Burnley, Lancashire, a delightfully authentic weaver’s cottage on Laithe Street. The third essay period – something of a Pendragon dissertation – was undertaken while on a family holiday in Crete, July 2017, a little over two decades since I had departed Barnsley with that soft leather suitcase as golden as the sun!
The fourth & final set of essays were written as part of my Mumble Words editorship, 2018-2021, concluding in the same time & space as did my epic poem, Axis & Allies, the northern Greek island of Samothraki.