I seem to have been attracted to old royal hunting grounds over the years. This poem came from a mix of different experiences tracking deer through the woods, some near where I grew up in the Thames Valley in a wood called King's Wood near Sonning Common, some from Savernake Forest near Marlborough. More recently I have been on the slopes of Venlaw in Peebles trying to catch sight of the deer there. Peebles was a resort of Scottish royalty for recreation and the nearby Cloich Hills recall their use for hunting, Cloich being the Gaelic for "play".
The inspiration for this poem came from the song “There's a Star” by Ash on their “Free All Angels” album. I had been having my breakfast watching TV and they came on to play this as their new single. Very disillusioned with the pop music at the time this was the first thing in a while that I actually liked and the lyrics for some reason struck a very strong chord with me. The result was that I wrote down my poem shortly after in practically it's entirety in a sort of flow of consciousness moment. It contains many of the ideas which had been at the forefront of my mind around that time about myth, landscape and belief after I had been on a couple of long distance journeys on foot, hence the “Routes” aspect of the title.
Not black, not white,: This first line in which the heart is not black or white symbolises the concept that no-one is wholly good nor wholly evil. We are all living, breathing beings in this world with all its complexity.
And the saplings grew to Giants: These are the two giant oaks, Gog and Magog, which when I saw them on the side of Glastonbury Tor were looking like they were on their slow and gradual decline, however still showing signs of life.
A Great Soul: This is the translation of the Sanskrit word "Mahatma".
Κyβεrpοετica: The title of both this poem and the website is a neologism which encapsulates many of the ideas and themes of the poems presented. The "Κyβεr" part relates to the word "cyber", frequently used to denote things that are connected with the internet or World Wide Web, and which has its origins in the Greek word for a helmsman. The connection between the internet and "cyber" in etymological terms has many threads including William Gibson's coining of the word "cyberspace" and the earlier pioneers of systems theory who used the alternative label "cybernetics" for their discipline. All of these etymological references were considered when choosing this for inclusion and "pοετica" refers to both the language form used here as well as the Greek root of the word which is the verb for doing or making. Κyβεrpοετica includes both Greek and Latin characters and is a synthesis of these two extremely influential languages in the history of western civilisation. There is a harmonious and equal balance of the two by combining characters, first one Greek, then one Latin, then two Greek, then two Latin and finally three Greek followed by three Latin. Thus arranged the characters would hopefully also be able to be interpreted by English speaking audiences as the Greek characters are the ones most closely related to the Latin ones.
I can see those waves extending: I was sitting on the bus going into Edinburgh one day letting my mind wander, as it tends to do on those long bus journeys which at the time I seemed to be doing day after day, and I started to think about how there is a continuum of connecting matter between myself, interfacing at the surface of my body and connecting with the air which extended out around me. This then came into contact with every other surface on the bus, including the people, and so because in modern atomic theory each atom consists of a small nucleus surrounded by a large amount of empty space in which electrically charged particles with very little mass were whizzing around, I could "see" that extending from me was a continuous connected field of electrons. It also occurred to me that as electric charge and light are so closely related, according to Maxwell's findings, that even the very light that was coming from external sources actually acted as if I were literally touching that source of light. In hindsight such revelatory insights and their implications showed how ungrounded I was and should have warned me of the fact I was in a somewhat unusual mental state.
Retina to occipital lobe, etc.: These lines of the poem are outlining the possible path that the light which comes into contact with the retina is conveyed through connecting nerve fibres into the very body itself.
Corpus magnum.: The link here is to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, my grandfather's Alma Mater, and of course the bulk of the corpus of philosophy was originally in Greek and Latin. I am only refering to that which is given the label "philosophy" because undoubtedly other cultures had philosophical systems but would not have referred to it as philosophy, Yoga being one.
From end to end the blue flame runs,: It will probably come as very little surprise that a lot of this poem was inspired by Walt Whitman's "I Sing the Body Electric", electricity being like fire but in the body not burning at as intense a heat and thus cooler, blue being associated with coolness.
Begin to move now, move to another place: Another person I was researching at the time of writing this poem was V. I. Vernadsky. His theories on the Biosphere and the Noosphere were on my mind a lot and in this final part of the poem I tried to convey my ideas on this topic. One of these being that the surface of the Earth has an interior mental correlate and so the activities done to the Earth and the environment also have an impact on our minds. Emotions such as sadness may be experienced but by moving from one place to another a new and different e-motion can be found. This navigational instinct is very deep within us and can be seen in numerous other creatures such as salmon who travel great distances in their lifetimes but are able to find their way back to the place they were born in order to spawn. Once we realise that we too have this innate ability, which we have had since we were children, we will be able to relate to all the other creatures in nature and also the landscapes we co-exist in.
blaze a trail forward: This is a reference to the Portland Trailblazers, the home basketball team from my mother's home town of Portland, OR.
It is there in abundance: There is an abundance of fire contained in, for instance, the engines of cars which are all around.
This is one of the earliest poems I wrote which was in my mid-teens. It is based on a dream I had which I tried to capture in the poem using the sonnet form.
This poem is one of the "wierd sonnets" which became a common motif for a period of time. Their shared features are 14 lines, free verse with a lack of rhyme and ending with a question. There is one other on the Kyberpoetica album (not including Zoomorphic Dreams, which is in its own way a wierd sonnet).
And formulated the concept of the Tao: The Tao is also known as the Way and in Chinese philosophy is often seen as metaphorically akin to water. The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu is the classic sacred text on this subject studied by Taoists.
And came up with a mechanistic view: Western philosophers including those labelled "natural philosophers" who later became known as scientists developed a view of the universe which was deterministic based on the writings of Newton and Descartes. In their view the cosmos and all the activites within it progressed with entirely mechanical and predictable precision much like a giant clockwork. God was the primary cause and mover of the mechanical universe setting it all in motion but not present, hence the duality of body and soul.
Are we entering a New Stone Age?: This question is posed after explaining how science has led us to the current state of proliferation and pervasion of electronics and asks if a new paradigm will arise. The reference to the "New Stone Age" also echoes the Neolithic period during which time archeologists and historians propose that people lived in cultures which revered nature and held animistic beliefs that matter contained spirit. There are cultures still today which hold this view in many parts of the world which are increasingly coming into contact with new technologies.
This is another "wierd sonnet". See the note on "Chronology" above.
Pharaohs maybe, the last of Dynasties: The last Pharaoh in the line of Egyptians before the Greek Ptolemaic dynasties was called Nectanebo. As far fetched as this may seem there is a tradition that the Scots were descendants of an Egyptian princess named Scota which can be found in both the Scotichronicon and the Declaration of Arbroath.
I wrote this poem after going to see a Jah Shaka gig in Reading. It was an unforgetable experience where I saw for the first and only time a soundsystem that had one turntable. The bass was like an earthquake.
I am a gift from Jah,: Jah is the contraction of Jahovah which refers to the deity revered in Rastafarianism.
Where I uphold the Sun's throne: This refers to the constellation of Leo which in astrology and Jyotish (Indian astrology) is traditionally said to be ruled by the Sun.
Than the might of Righteousness: This line is a play on the phrase "Might is right" which I consider a flawed view and oft repeated to justify oppression.
Skyting over the surface,: Skyting is the Scots word for sliding, slipping or skating.
This poem is called "A Vision" because it contains what I felt were powerful images, the first stanza being the seed from which it sprang. An interpretation of this on one level would be appreciated by neuroscientists. The forest is the mass of nerve cells (neurons) with their branchlike dendrites in the neo-cortex (new bark) and the stars in the space between the brances are the astrocytes.
My tree,: This is a play on words of the Sanskrit "maitri" meaning "friendship".
Planted when the world was young,: The world being "cosmos" in Greek so there is a cosmological reference here as well.
Philodendron.: I don't know if this strictly translates as "friendship tree". Part of the word, "Philo", in Greek means "friend", "companion" or even "lover" as in "Philosophy", and the "dendron" part certainly refers to "tree". So it could mean "friend of trees", and there is a genus of plants called Philodendron which certainly are nothing like my description. However, in the Botanic Garden in Edinburgh in the glasshouses there are some Philodendron next to a Zingiber plant named after Mark Newman, a friend of mine, so I left it as is.
This is a Scots Gaelic translation of my poem "A Vision" which is by Angus Peter Campbell, an accoplished and very well respected Gaelic poet, to whom I am extremely grateful for allowing me to publish this here. I originally asked him via email to have a look at my faltering attempt at translating the first paragraph and he kindly provided me with the complete poem.
The translation works line by line and is even more terse and compact than my own poem. We have been in correspondence for a while and on Twitter in response to one of my comments he replied "Less is more, less is better". This translation bears this out.
Craobh a' chairdeas: This line in particular has been pared down, however my original "I call her", in which I was trying to make the point of the gender of the tree as female, is not required as the gender of the word "craobh" for "tree" in Gaelic is feminine.
I feel strangely attracted to you, Lorenz……: Edward Lorenz was the mathematical pioneer whose developments in the field of "strange attractors" brought him recognition, as well as the popularisation of the phenomenon of "the butterfly effect" which he was credited with coming up with. One of the strange attractors is known as the "butterfly" attractor, hence the "Aurelian" in the title of this poem.
Above a rusty-brown badlands of: The images of "badlands" echo fractals created by high-powered computing and mathematics which have also been brought to the attention of the general public in recent years.
Wind-whipped whirling dervishes cast sand: Lorenz and other mathematicians in his field have also contributed greatly to the refinement of mathematical models of global weather which are run on super-computers and are used in weather predictions by the Met Office.
From above our nation an observer watches: This is a nod to the Joni Mitchell song "Woodstock" in which she has the bombers "turning into butterflies above our nation". This album was also released around the time I was born.
The endlessly repeated circle: Countless numbers of iterations of calculations are used to generate both fractals and the output of models. For a much better explanation see "The Essence of Chaos" by Edward Lorenz