Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beleriand


BELERIAND*

(*The western portion of Tolkien's Middle Earth where many events in The Silmarillion take place before Beleriand is destroyed and sinks beneath the sea.)


Beleriand, O Green Beleriand,
Your central spine, the mighty River Sirion, flows—
Down from your mountainous crown,
Through Elven kingdoms and great forest lands
That countless birds and beasts call home—
Flows to your ocean-touching toes,
Beleriand, O Green Beleriand!

Your northern mountain ranges reach the sky
And never sleep – while Ulmo’s waters,
West and southward flow from high
To low, where there is no name or word,
Leagues of trees cast shadows deep—
Mist and cloud by breath bestirred:
Here Thorondor, Lord of Eagles, flies
O’er meads of flowers and precipices steep,
He spreads great wings o’er all Beleriand.

Beleriand, O Green Beleriand,
League upon league of your living land
Lies to the river’s right and left hand—
From those far-eastern mountains of blue
To the western shores of timeless sand—
Here long ages lives my heart,
Though I’m only passing through
Beleriand, O Green Beleriand!

Not only Nature carves this land—
But scars of ancient battles done
Beneath the stars before the Moon and Sun:
Where sleep the seeds of future joy and sorrow
Upon the wheel of reckoning spun,
Threads of destiny unknown.

Beleriand, O Green Beleriand,
Who is She that comes with nightingales,
That walks upon tiny flowers
Yet harms them none?
That summons western ships with painted sails—
Who is She among those ancient Powers
That are Children of Il├║vatar, the One?
What is her name,
Beleriand, O Green Beleriand?

From those far-eastern mountains of blue
To the western shores of timeless sand—
Here long ages lives my heart,
Though I’m only passing through
Beleriand, O Green Beleriand!


Copyright 2011 Bruce P. Grether/ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Kingdom of Frogs (A Poem)




The Kingdom of Frogs

(A Poem)

The Kingdom of Frogs
Can come and go
Because every frog knows
What all frogs know.

Regardless of sex, every frog is King
And each can fearlessly fling
Itself into shadow…

For in and around
The Pond of Life
Every stage from egg to carcass
Co-exists.

On the lily leaf is printed
The tadpole’s mortal shadow
Where the sun scorches a final wriggle
To a dark silhouette.

No regret?

We cannot say!

Only clear as day
Beneath the screech owl’s silent wing
Every frog is King.




Friday, August 26, 2011

ORCHID OF AWAKENING is now available!!!


Dear Friends and Internet Wanderers…
      I am so excited and pleased to announce today that Book Two of The Moontusk Chronicles, my new novel Orchid of Awakening is now available.
      About 30 years ago in 1981 I had a vivid dream about a privileged young man named Dare who was the heir to a kingdom. He hated the oppressive ritual and responsibility of his inherited role, so when his tutor died mysteriously he freaked out and ran away from home. He was accompanied only by his beloved dog. This dream felt so real and vivid that I wrote it down. The dream became the doorway into a fantastic world in which the moon has rings and wooly mammoths survive in the northern mountains… among many other wonders!
      Over the next few years I expanded that story into a novel, and several different friends read and critiqued it--an extremely helpful process! The only major change from the original dream, except that it went on and on, was the dog changed to a cat. In "real" life I had been adopted for the first time by a cat and his name was Taliesin. Of course in the novels he became the chameleon cat, Maumet, who can camouflage himself and plays a crucial role throughout.
      At one point, I realized that I had written only half of the story, so I continued and this grew into even more of an epic. The bloated manuscript of close to 2,000 pages finally broke itself quite naturally into four shorter novels. Eventually Dare met another young man named Hosis, and they fell in love. Meanwhile I had met my life partner, Tomas. The world that Dare and Hosis lived in underwent a dramatic transition as its patriarchal empire was overthrown by an army of women…
      Though the novels are classified as "gay fantasy" and called "frankly erotic," there is a great deal more too them that a hot love story. (I'm intrigued that apparently more women read this genre than gay men, and I hope others will also enjoy them!) You enter a complex, detailed, engaging plot and various stories unfold within that. You meet all sorts of characters, men and women and other races of beings, as well as a host of animals, more ordinary and very strange creatures. You eventually visit all sort of amazing places in the process.
      Now after all these years, Book One: Rendezvous in a Ruined City was published earlier this year and now Book Two has arrived! I'm also busy starting Book Five, The White Mammoth, as it looks like my publisher Lethe Press will put out one novel every six months or so.
      Apparently it pays off to follow your dreams and work hard at your bliss…
      Learn more and you can also purchase Orchid of Awakening (also Book One if you need to catch up) through this LINK.
      In profound gratitude,
      Bruce P. Grether

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Long Drive From The Land Of The Dead


Dreaming last night:
      Tomas and I are in a big house, not our home, with a group of nice people that includes our friend Joe Vitale and his lovely partner Nerissa, who is a special friend of mine. It is a sort of social gathering and in a big kitchen food is being prepared, perhaps like a potluck supper.
      Something tells me that an incredible event is immanent and following my intuition I go outside. I see a road stretching across a sort of semi-arid landscape that leads directly to the house where our friends are gathered. Something in the distance is approaching along the road… to my amazement I realize it is not a car, rather a sort of huge dish that looks something like a coracle, one of those little round boats.
      The vehicle does not appear to have wheels, however it skims effortlessly along the road and comes right up to the house where it parks itself not far from where I stand. Perhaps a few others from inside have emerged to witness this with me; I'm not sure, as my focus is on the new arrival.
      At first, I see nothing and no one in the "vehicle," if that's what it is. Something begins to appear above the big dish shape, maybe first only a shoulder and an ear. Then as if a "cloak of invisibility" has been swept off, a man appears there. How do I know him? Only I do!
      It is Carlos Castaneda--the famous author of a series of books concerning the teachings and worldview of his teacher, the Toltec seer and sorcerer, don Juan Matus.
     This is astonishing, as I know that Castaneda is an elusive character who avoids being photographed, and yet here he is! He shakes my hand and we go inside to join the gathering. I'm interested to see how this might shift the energy of the group. Usually when our friend Joe is among a group in public or even at a private event, a lot of the attention revolves around Joe. After all, he's quite charismatic and also very famous now.
      Interestingly enough, both Joe and Castaneda, though fascinating guys, do not dominate the group's attention, and everyone continues to visit and bustle about preparing food without a major disruption of the preparations.
      I go to Castaneda and say, "How about a cup of coffee?"
     "Thank you, I'd appreciate that," he says with a sparkle of his eyes and a grin. "Especially if it's organic, shade grown coffee."
     "Sure," I say. "That's the only kind we have."
      When I wake up and tell Tomas this dream, I add, "It seems that Castaneda came a long way to join our gathering…"
      "I'll say," Tomas says, "all the way from the Land of the Dead!"
      Indeed, I feel as the late novelist William S. Burroughs would say, that when we dream of people who have died, it is an actual visit from the Western Lands.
      A dream worth sharing with YOU!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Oneness Reveals Itself



Once you look Oneness in the eye, you can never ever again be the same person you thought you were before!
Recently I encountered a tiny new-hatched green anole lizard. It perched on the lower edge of the kitchen window frame: baby on the outside in its native heat and me on the inside in my blessedly cool air-conditioning. We saw each other, eye-to-eye…
This exquisite lizard—commonly called a chameleon by many for its color-changing talent—was no longer than my little pinkie, including the tail. Probably 2/3rds was tail, so scope out how incredibly itsy bitsy this creature was. At present he was green because he climbed up from the green nandinas that grow below the window.
As new-hatched baby and I examined one another, I sought not to intimidate with my size; I moved slow and did not loom too close. The miniscule head turned, and a microcosmic gem of an eye swiveled in its socket, wary and yet evidently not afraid.
The baby ambled along, to show off perfect tiny feet.
Our encounter provided me with a glimpse of that indescribable Oneness lately quite trendy in “ahead-of-the-cutting-edge” spiritual circles. Only it’s nothing new, this “non-duality” the Hindus have called Advaita for millennia. It’s something like what physics now calls “entanglement.”
Only Oneness isn’t so easy to “get” because it cannot be gotten. It’s unavoidable. It’s the fact that nothing is actually separate from anything else. Separation causes suffering, only separation isn’t real. So get over it!
I’ve noticed a curious thing—the major Oneness “teachers” don’t offer any spiritual practice. They say you don’t need it. Other excellent teachers provide a practice to point you towards Oneness.
What does Oneness really mean? It is not something you can understand, describe, achieve, enter or leave—it’s simply what IS.
Who knows? It’s a great mystery. Only I also noticed something else about the tiny lizard… it offered no practice. It doesn’t need a practice!
It simply IS.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Book/Film Review: THE EAGLE

When I first saw the trailer for the film THE EAGLE, I happened to be reading a wonderful sci-fi novel by Stephen Baxter (perhaps the finest sci-fi writer alive IMNSHO) called COALESCENT. Curiously enough, both the upcoming film and the Baxter book dealt with events in Roman Britain, a fascinating subject to me, as a historian. The film and its literary source are inspired by a historical mystery--the complete disappearance of a Legion of thousands of Roman soldiers in 2nd century Britain, at a time when the native tribal Picts (source of the term "Pixies") lived in much of the north.
      Though intrigued by the beautiful cinematography the upcoming film promised--plus its two handsome and engaging young stars, Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell--it seemed it might be too bloody for my taste. While I visited my mother in Colorado last February for her 90th birthday, I happened to visit a bookstore and purchased the film tie-in version of the Rosemary Sutcliff novel that inspired the film. Though originally titled THE EAGLE OF THE NINTH, this classic published in 1954, a year after my birth, was retitled for this edition simply: THE EAGLE.


      I am so grateful to discover Rosemary Sutcliff, whom I had vaguely heard of. An amazing writer who spent much of her life in a wheelchair, her vivid and atmospheric stories are rich with historical detail and plausible characters. Her recreation of the English countryside in late Roman times is stunningly vivid and alive. Now that I've finally seen the DVD of the film (which I gratefully own!) I know that the book is a bit subtler, less frantic, and more detailed.
      However the film is magnificent in its own right. Tome it is pointless to compare books with films that inspire them. They're seriously different media. In this case, both book and film are superb, and though there are a few moments to wince and avert your eyes, the film is not all that bloody. In a few moments it breaks you heart--yet life is that way, right?
     One aspect both versions share is that they are what folks now call a "bromance." The two major male characters really come to love one another, though they are "guy's guys". It's a bit more than being buddies, though not necessarily lovers. Still, if you read between the lines, it's every bit as romantic and touching as Frodo and his Sam! I don't know how conscious Sutcliff really was of this, though it seems to be recurring in her work, these plausible and sweet bromances.
     Now I'm also reading the rest of her "Roman Britain Trilogy," which continues in THE SILVER BRANCH and THE LANTERN BEARERS. These are fascinating, deliciously told stories with historical substance… plus there's something curiously relevant today about the passing of a major empire that has believed it controlled (or should control) the known world for a time.
      (Let's hope this corporate hegemony that has taken over all the major governments on the planet is also on its way out, as it's unsustainable and toxic to Life on Earth.)
      While we await developments, we need to keep feeding our heads, our hearts and souls. Sutcliff and the film I also adore are great recipes for all of the above forms of feeding.
      Flying on this EAGLE's wings I discovered Rosemary Sutcliff, which is a treasure in itself!