Crazy Horses: Mari Lwyd

More from Kevan’s Bardic Academic blog – folk tradition alive and well on the Welsh borders!

The Bardic Academic

20160116_182907 Crazy Horses! The Battle on the Bridge Chepstow Wassail 2016 by Kevan Manwaring

Out of the mist comes the jagged silhouette of the horse-skull, teeth perpetually bared, bone-clack of jaw, death-rattle of stiff-wooden tongue, draped in a spectral sheet, swaying to the doom-doom beat and the wassailers make their groggy way up the milk-bottle street. It is New Year’s Day in Glamorgan. In the villages and towns of the coal-black valleys the newly ancient custom of the Mari Lwyd is being enacted. It is led by the ostler by umbilical rein:  accompanying him are outlandish characters, Christmas cast-offs, Father Christmas or one of his misbegottens, green men, white ladies, following the Y Fari Lwyd, the Grey Mare, or Grey Mary to some, as it dips and jinks to the threshold. A sharp rap-rapping at the door, a rude awakening. The cold slaps you like a hangover. Curtain-twitch curiousity. The gummy-eyed…

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Lost Border

Kevan Manwaring launches this, his latest collection of poetry, at the Stroud Out Loud Poetry Special at Mr Twichetts, Subscription Rooms, Stroud, on Friday 29 January, 7pm for 7:30pm.

The Bardic Academic

‘I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world…’ So wrote Rainer Maria Rilke, in his ‘Book of Hours’, and this epitomizes the experience of the last couple of years for me. I have crossed several borders – county, regional, national, international – and one quality they seem to share is, the closer you get to them, the more they dwindle, even disappear. The same with places (that horizon, that hill, that view, the light at the end of the track) and people. Intimacy dissolves boundaries. We have more in common than in difference. On a subatomic level where one thing ends and another begins is a debatable point. Is there no separation then? In terms of our shared humanity and interconnectedness to all life on Earth, I think not. The nation is a state of mind. Borders fascinate me – they are often places of…

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