wilf jones poems 3

                    the heft and the edge                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     10/6/2020







      VERSE                                 Tales of Gwynedd







































































































































































































































































































































































































































































The Ascent of Man

What can I say?
Moel Hebog
Sits on the earth,
Home to the Hawk,
Hard by the refuge of Owen Glyndawr,
As unconcerned now as then
With the bipeds who scramble his slopes.
I am not qualified to speak:
Hours of sweat and aching muscles,
Sore feet and sunburn
Are merely due payment:
The ticket-fee.
What is the life of mankind
To the weight of time
Here defied?
His view makes ancient history
Just born: Cloudy head Yr Wyddfa,
Moel Siabod, Y Garn, the Nantlle ridge.
Recreational yes, but
A skyline set to survive eternity
Deserves more respect.
And yet,
As I climb,
My feet tread a path
That cuts deeper every year:
Skin broken and scarred
By thousands of boots.
The summit litter, I know,
Purely transitory,
And yet
Clear warning.
How frightening it is
That this bastion of time,
This witness of godhead,
This object of homage,
Must retreat before us.
Vicarious immortality
Too attractive to ignore,
Year after year compelled we return,
Oblivious to the destruction we cause,
Or simply unconcerned.



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pic Geralt Roberts      click



Island of the Mighty:



In the pottery
Castell Arianrhod
Is seven hundred and fifty pounds sterling:
A mighty work
Dwarfed by legend;
A tribute
For sale.
A skilled hand creates
Blodwedd with flowers curling
About her face,
About face with an owl,
On a plaque to hang
From a tree, perhaps.
Will I one day find
The stone with a hole
Speared through:
A memory of Garonwy and Llew?
Not in a field by a river I'm sure
But dead in Celtic Crafts;
With the harp of Gwydion,
The Pigs of Pryderi,
The Head of Bran
Blessed and displayed
For purchase.
Giants of men
Bestrode these hills,
The Gods lived here and
Spoke to Math,
And gave him Sight,
The sorcerer saw
This future and more,
And laid a sly curse on the authors
- Of the Mabinogion, that is -
Few now recall the names.




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A figure on a golden shore
That echoes not to the sound
Of flashing engines in the sky,
Or grinding, rumbling screw at sea;
No car or coach twists along
The lanes above to spew
The eager onto holiday sand,
Just a figure on the beach,
And white peaked waves,
And the clean shuddering rush of the wind.

I see him clearly now:
In shoddy clothes and worn boots, laced,
His red rag hair, watchless arms bare,
He wields his crook at hidden foes.
A shepherd boy at play alone,
Dogless his footprints skip and spin.
The headland path I climbed he climbs,
Unwearied sits by weary me,
A mere thousand years away.




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"Oh tell me wise sheep
What is this land,
And who are the people
That walk on the strand,
And tread the high mountain
In Autumn and Spring
With their crooks and their collies
Knee-deep in the ling?"

"They're bastards, young sir,
That's who they are.
They're bastards who shear
The coat from my back
And give me a whack
If I put up a fuss;
They scream and they cuss
If I give one a nip
As I squirm in his grip;
Forgive my complaint
But a plunge in the dip
Really isn't that quaint."

"Oh, Come now, sir sheep,
How can you so rail
At the men who helped birth you
When the winds they did wail,
When the snow lay so deep
And black was the night,
And your mother was bleating
In terror and fright?"

"Dog's bollocks to that!
Just mushy old crap.
Protecting investment
Is nothing to do,
When you’re saving a ewe -
Who's lamb just won't drop
And you're up on the top
Of a wintery fell
And you've promised to sell
The wool of your flock
And the 'produce' as well -
With loving your stock."

"But tell me, dear lamb,
Did you not find it fair
That the price for your living
In shepherdly care
Just a white woolen fleece
Off your back twice a year?
I cannot well see
That being too dear."

"Oh, bugger off home,
You daft blinkered twit!
A farm is a place
Where babies they take
All for the sake
Of keeping you fat:
Hypocritical Rat!
Sheep mothers have cried,
A million lambs died
For your Sunday lunching.
Your take on the countryside
Is really revolting.

"Go on, take yourself off
With your twee bloody verses
And your guide books and boots
And your full eager purses
And your wide angled lenses
For shooting the view,
With sheep a neat focus
Then tasty in stew.
I'm sick of all this,
You streak of ram's piss!
Would anyone miss
An idiot spouting
Wordsworthian verse,
(and very much worse)

And with that for a curse,
The angry wise sheep
Pushed the man off the mountain.




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nb Gwynedd is pronounced g-win-eth (apologies if that’s annoyingly obvious)



She's a fine girl is Gwynedd,
And appropriately female,
The men, after all,
Were for many years
Merely the offspring of women.
It was only the English,
Cynical Saxon stock,
Who delivered the startling news
That men have a part too
In birthing.
I shouldn't joke,
For she's a fine woman, Gwynedd,
If a little long in the tooth:
Majestically wrinkled,
Craggy round her shores
And weathered by tears;
But a dam worth the stars
Who'll teach and console,
And surprise you with beauty,
And shiver your heart.
Oh, and she can be cruel,
My dark Lady Gwynedd:
By turn the maid singing
The terrible tale of innocent days,
By turn the mother weeping their loss,
But always the goddess, neck deep in blood,
Remote from the intentions of men.
For her the sun and the moon,
And the birds in the sky,
And the dark of Anwwn,
Are always and everywhere
And everything.
I may say:
"She's a fine girl, Gwynedd",
But what would a simple man know?
I leave her unchanged by my leaving,
Aloof from the passion of the ruddy English,
Amused by such attentions from a class below,
Amused that in going I have never wholly gone,
And will ever return.  No threat
To a woman as wise and as old.
Unstirred she sits at her wheel
Spinning past and present into one yarn.
And I fall for it.  Over and again
I am teased into the thread,
Infatuation led to believe
Her greater than she is.



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The view from Rhiw
(Yes, it rhymes):
The long sands of Neigwl,
Hell's Mouth,
Quite sublime:
Worthy of the sisters
Whose primary lust
Was buying up Wales
To give to the Trust.
Worthy of words
Much better than these,
Worthy of praise
From thousands who pause
To wander the gardens
Box-hedged from the breeze,
To idle in sunshine
'Mid mallow and yew.
A greeting from the Keatings
Of lovely Plas yn Rhiw.

There is a moral, of course,
To this tale and it is:
Find a nice spot
And then, without fail,
Live in the place
For fifty odd years,
Be as constant and quaint
As these three old dears,
Donate to the Trust
The spartan abode
And become a piece of History:
Heritage for the bewheeled
Who have to admire
When people well-heeled
Divert all their funds and professional fees
Into Houses and Gardens,
Lakes, mountains and trees.
Forgive me such cynicism,
I don't mean to displease;
I'm grateful for what they have done.
The chip on my shoulder
Will rot when I’m older.




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Canol y Cantref;
Maes Parcio and Dynion!

On road signs
That language
Spoken by one in five
Of men called Welsh.

In Monmouth, Montgomery,
Clwyd and Flint,
Cardiff and Swansea,
Brecon and Pembroke:
In all of the places
Where English is King,
There it is,
On road signs,
Like a subversion.

In earlier days,
In the days of burnt cottages
Abused for the weekend
By the middle-class Brit,
Welsh Maquis would spray-paint their creed:
Conway to Conwy, Wales to Cymru,
An attempt to make clear where everyone stood.
But now Plaid Cymru have lost their felt pens
To Roads and Highways, County and Town,
Determined to cut the cleaning bill back.
At least we can say, when the traffic is flowing,
That everyone now knows where they are going.

The revolution was Government led,
All hail legislation and
Welsh National Curriculum.
Westminster foisting Welsh on the Welsh!
A policy doomed to fail:
The Nation capitulated so long ago
There is no turning back.
Could you imagine kids rapping in Welsh?
Batman Returns subtitled?
Super Nintendo won't quickly translate,
For Welsh it's the end of the line.

Except for that bastion of Gwynedd, of course,
Where the song lives on in the streets,
Where the stuttering, secondary, Englishmen's tongue
Is used but for the cause of financial extraction.
And yet even here a foe walks abroad,
Peers over the battlement, surveys the advance:
The traitor Hospitality, law to the Welsh,
Has become the enemy within.
With a welcome in his heart,
But tears in his eyes,
He throws open the castle gates and cries:
Welcome invader, scourge of our tongue.
Croeso, here is shelter; Croeso, here is food;
Here is our warm soul, Croeso!"
I wonder if it's all the result of a trade off?
The deadly deal went thus:
'You may have your Welsh road signs
Providing they cry,
Providing they sigh
With their terminal breath:



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