Sunday, 30 August 2009


Aberystwyth, the seaside town in Wales, is more than a fishing village. Aberystwyth is a way of life. The very name Aberystwyth, the sound of it, is the touchstone for the exiled Welshman (or woman). Damn it, the place even has a promenade, a post office and a shop selling bara lawr (or laverbread).


abroad with fantasies and airport fictions
retro futurism and kitsch aesthetics
not to mention the homeland literati
poring over poetics
in bardic magazines
arriving monthly in the post
I tended to think I was out of touch
with something
that's claimed to lie in the phantasmagorical
stubbornly defying wisdom and logic
something that's not available on postal subscription
but is free on an everyday basis
to the few

they say it's found

in the whistling of the wind through the drystone wall
and in the rumble of the early morning milk train

this raindrenched evening found me squelching
under Cadwallader's dragon
limply hanging
from the promenade flagpole
with the local bardic outpourings
stuffed in my raincoat pockets

in an everyday kind of way
there was a sad politness
about it all

pilgrim-ing my pious wanderings
and Hiraeth
around the old ancestral beat

splashing around
in massage-comfort shoes

stumbling over that ancient folk-rock activist
outpouring her lucid deliriums
in the bar of the Red Dragon pub

so tell me cariad -
how's things in Aberystwyth?

solicited between sets / passing over the tongue loosener

frothy fragments
bursting forth
into my reconciliation zone

and suddenly it was all over

the bardic dreams
the airport-polished shoes

gw 2009, 2008


  1. I would say that usually it is better to have bardic dreams than to return in person. I too am an exile, even if only by a hundred and fifty miles - I too have dreams of how things were but I dare not go back because I know they are not like that now. Thinking about it maybe poetry is the best of all mediums in which to explore one's past - love the poem - you have managed to convey a dream-like quality to it. Lovely day here - grass cutting going along nicely while I cook roast beef and Yorkshire puds for visitor lunch. Best wishes.

  2. Enjoyed your poem - sat here with the laptop, reading it outloud.

    Had to google hiraeth - "yearning for home" and "cariad" - sweetheart (is it related to the word caryatid, I wonder?)

  3. I'm with The Weaver of Grass: don't go back. Things / places are never as you knew them.

  4. Dominic (great man fo the google) beat me (great man for the gargle)to finding the meanings of the welsh.Great poem I really like it.I spent one of the best weeks of my life in Aber.Should have been at school,stayed in the girls hall of residence (with my older sister who was a student there) Remember someone playing the bagpipes at 3am on constitution hill.Drank in the seabank(it had a pub dog and we called it Doggy Seabank.Dry on a Sunday so drove (6in a mini cooper)to a cave (well it seemed like one)in Machyncleth (sp?)where you could pour your own real ale and pay on the way out.Not only did I paid on the way out,I passed out on the way out too!I'm with the others here never go back.You might get arrested.

  5. TFE, when you read the last sentence of Dominic's comment on my item 'cello solo' you'll see and confirm your belief in action: yes, what a "great man for the google" as you aptly put it he is ;-)

  6. Weaver, all are agreeing with your advice not to go back. And so onwards and upwards it is then!

  7. Dave, you are right. For example, I've been to many places that I knew as a child - and they are always smaller and less impressive than I remember. Invariably a disappointment.

  8. Dominic, I also read it aloud. It was at the Höflein poetry festival yesterday. Judging by the reaction I don't think many understood it. Mostly they were German speakers, although Arabic, Spanish and French there also. My poem about Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) went down best of my trio.

  9. such a long time since i've been to Aberystwyth and I'd never find the memories again.

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  11. Really takes one to that special might want to take a look at Stephen Millhauser's story "The sepia Postcard" in "The Barnum Museum", which has the rainy out of season seaside town in combination with some M.R. James.

  12. Dedicated to the memory of John's tree, blown down by Brian a most ferocious storm.


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