The Garden of the Gods

A Cywydd Llosgyrnog

When storm clouds hid the Manitou*,
They cloaked invaders from his view:
Giants* who engendered fright

With fearsome height and thundered tread.
Their horrid creatures ran ahead—
Kindled dread and panicked flight.

Before their jaws devoured the land,
A shaman knelt upon the sand,
Raised a hand toward sacred height—

He chanted prayers and pleas for grace,
Implored the God to show His face,
And unbrace the giants’ might.

The clouds dispersed; the Spirit spoke.
The hostile race stood still as oak,
Scorched by smoke that shuttered sight

And burned their bodies into stone.
The wind now whittles flesh from bone,
Carves a throne where kestrels light.

As vestiges of day unseam
Within the vortex of a dream,
Weathergleam* forestalls the night.

~The Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado, July 2017

*An Algonquian term for a spiritual force that controls nature.

*According to Native American legends, the massive rock formations of “the Garden of the Gods” are the remains of giants and their terrible beasts. When these beings threatened to devour the earth, the Chosen Ones prayed to the Manitou, who turned the invaders to stone.

*Light or clear sky at the horizon.

Gehling, Richard. “Native American Crossroads.”


Ancient Groves

A Tawddgyrch Cadwynog

The bristlecones
Endure the tine
And icy whine
Of wind that hones

Its teeth on bones
Of wooded shrine—
Yet watered wine
Of snow dethrones

The ancient pines.
When winters warm
With sultry norm,
The grove declines.

Their twisted spines
Decay, deform,
And seedlings swarm
To new snow lines:

A deadly race
Against the tide
Of greed and pride
That would erase

This sacred space
Where old ones bide
And peaks collide
With God and grace.

~~Inyo National Forest, California

Bristlecone pines are known for their gnarled, weather-beaten limbs and their longevity. Some individuals are 5000 years old. These conifers inhabit the desolate mountain slopes of Utah, California, and Nevada, where fierce winds and extreme temperatures have rendered the terrain inhospitable to most plant life. However, climate change is expanding the range of competing vegetation. Although some bristlecone saplings have migrated to higher elevations, more temperate species continue to crowd them out.

“Keepers of Prometheus: The World’s Oldest Tree.” 

Smith, Scott. “Ancient, Gnarly Trees Face Challenges to Survival.” Washington Post, 26 Sept. 2017: p. E2. Print.


Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a writer, poet, and editor who taught in community colleges for more than a decade.  She writes in traditional poetic forms that focus on the beauty of landscapes and their inhabitants. Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published in England, Scotland, Canada, Indonesia, and the United States. An avid swimmer and an enthusiastic fiber artist, she lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Updates on publications are available on her website:

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2 Responses

  1. Carole Mertz

    The Cywydd Llosgyrnog is a great form, and The Garden of the Gods a beautiful poem. Thank you for it.

  2. James A. Tweedie

    Each poem is elegant and as crystal clear as the White Mountain air that tickles Methuselah (Prometheus, alas, is no more). I am fascinated by how well archaic, arcane poetic forms are able to elevate words to such noble heights! They are like booster rockets that help carry us to the stars!


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