" ........... The speech
of the shaman is locked in the water web
where rivers meet."
So writes Glenda Beagan in her poem 'Shaman' included in The Dancing Pilgrimage of Water, a book of photographs by Phil Cope and writings selected by Dewi Roberts. In a previous book Holy Wells: Wales, Phil Cope had included some poetry alongside his commentaries on the wells. Here the idea is that the creative writing and the photography are in balance and complement each other. The selection of writings ranges from the seventeenth century to the present, but with a strong representation from modern works.
When I received my copy of the book I soon realised that something had gone horribly wrong with the typesetting or the editing as my poem 'Trawsgoed' ends suddenly in mid sentence five lines from the end, but with a neat full stop seemingly indicating the end of the poem. I have since learned that I am not the only contributor to suffer in this way.
Be that as it may, the photographs are stunning and the texts accompanying them, including some translated from Welsh, all engage deeply with the flow of waters through, across, over and under the earth. There is much more that I could quote, but having started with Glenda Beagan's reflections on the confluence of the Elwy and the Clwyd, I'll end by following with her the flow of waters back through time:
" ........... Hear heavy wains,
the whining of horses, the voices in the dusk -
chill calls, that Norman French nasality,
Tegeingl mingling Mercian : vowels broadening,
lengthening, but never merging with the plaited water
nor interweaving on a loom of moisture.
The threads remain: sharp, several, sure."