"Ponderynge together yestardayes promise, and two-dayes doyng"
(Hall's Chronicle - 1548)

"Goronigl gwyr yr Ynys" (Lewis Glyn Cothi - 1450)

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Sacred Waters?

Holy Well, Llanfihangel Genau'r Glyn

Every time I look
into the well
the level is the same
placid equilibrium:
it never rises nor falls.

No water is drawn from it
these days, not for drinking
nor for healing. Little rain

Runs in around the slate cover
over the grill that tops the shaft.
Around the edges a shiver
might be seen on the flat surface
beneath, the dark water
inscrutably responsive to enquiry,
deflecting the question
for further articulation.

This is tranquility, and yet
yards away the stream rushes
over the bank above and crashes
noisily to its channel below
when in full flood, or ebbs
back to a trickle
after a dry spell:

It is not constant like the well.


Is it the well
Where the pool lies still
Beneath the grill cover,

Or the nearby falls
Where the stream fills
The air with living water?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

At The Beaver Lodge

Tourbière du Venec

It is the smell of water mint that resonates in memory, conjuring the path through the boggy meadow along the stream where it grows and scents the air with sweet astringency.

It was a sultry day and, sticky with sweat, I stood beneath the shade of a willow sheltering from the sun, the banks of cut branches forming the dam across the stream luxuriant with mint.

Dragonflies hung in the air and swooped for pond-skaters on the stilled water. They said we would be lucky to see beavers and we saw none. But the dam, and the gnawn twigs discarded on the bank, made them known.

If a beaver would dive now into the peaty stream it would be luck indeed, but I counted it lucky just to be here on a still day in late summer waiting for a splash that did not come; fulfilled by the place itself and everything that was there, seen and unseen.

Thursday, 11 August 2016


How many miles to Babylon?
Listen to the spirit language in silence Is there a voice? No human voice. Words? They are unbidden, uncalled for: All the words in the world but that we seek Unwordly, unworldly, unsounded. To get there and back again no need to count the miles but kindle the flame which flickers, falters for a candle space a candle time. Listen! - they are timeless, the smooth words flowing, Hardening to roughness: corrugations in the runnels of history.

Sunday, 3 July 2016


Ned Thomas of Aberystwyth's Mercator Institute addressing the 'ALL EQUAL' event on the sea front.

The Referendum campaign seemed nothing less that an exercise in collective irresponsibity and the disarray following its outcome a fitting conclusion to the process. In spite of my dismay at the outcome I had expected it and was only surprised by the surprise of the financial markets who had predicted a Remain vote. So much for them as indicators of how things are.

The tide of xenophobia unleashed during the campaign and manifesting itself in its aftermath is disturbing, quite apart from the longer-term social consequences of the outcome. It was heartening, then, to be able to attend a gathering on the seafront in Aberystwyth where the flags of many nations, including many minority and/or 'disputed' nations, fly to celebrate diversity. The event was organised not so much to dispute the outcome of the Referendum, but to affirm the equality of all the inhabitants of the town and of the wider country wherever they are from.

There were speeches, poems, songs and statements of affirmation of this principle and we were all invited to wear a safety pin to represent the fact that we are all pinned together as common citizens of the world. We concluded by joining hands in a chain under those flags all along the Promenade. It's good to be part of a community that can organise such an event at short notice and get such a good turnout to support it.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016


A cat flits down a corridor of shadow
 - out of the sun -
and under a wooden fence,

a brief moment of mystery
 - caught and held -
though the deeps of the world recede

as time erodes them; they flatten
 - obscuring what is hidden -
to the bright plainness of day.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Wood Time

I caught the scent of hawthorn on the breeze this morning as I walked through the woods. It is the scent of summer. The ash tree, last to leaf, was springing with sprays of green. After a couple of thundery days the sun is bright and the sky clear. Looking up through the fast-developing canopy of different shades of green there are flashes of blue through the delicate tracery of birch leaves. The oak canopy is much thicker but light trickles through still as the leaves continue to bulk out. It is in one of the oaks growing from the bottom of the steeply sloping hillside that I had seen a kite’s nest in the fork of the branches from the ridge top path that is level with the tops of the trees growing from the bottom of the slope. The kite lifted off the nest and began circling the open ground in the valley. As I came up level with the nest it looked empty, but when I trained my binoculars on it the fluffy grey-white head of a chick popped up for a moment, then disappeared. I waited some time, standing on the bluebell-lined path as time slowed and then seemed still. Nothing happened. I caught site of a treecreeper on the trunk of a nearby tree. The kite could be seen every now and then still circling above. Further off a buzzard circled too. The birch leaves glistened against the open sky.

I retreated along the path and up onto the hill above the wood. The dew pond where the sheep drink in a hollow near the summit was barely damp. Water seems almost magically to gather here or be absent. There is no spring but sometimes it is full of clear water while at others it has all drained away. Turning here down back to the wood I retraced my steps along the ridge path. The nest looked empty but when I trained the binoculars on it I could see two chicks sprawled across the edge. I watched a while, but it was time to go. I had already left wood time behind and clock time was calling me back to schedule.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

When it Will be Summer

It’s May, and starting to feel like Summer might be coming. The last few weeks seemed like they were colder than most of the Winter, but today the wood looks suddenly green and the sun is shining. I have for the past few years participated in the ‘Track a Tree’ project, and it is time for me to start recording the development of leaves on the particular tree I document each year. It is an ash and has consistently been one of the last trees to come into leaf over the last three years. Sycamores are in full leaf, as are hawthorns. Blackthorns, which usually flower before they leaf, seem to be doing the two things simultaneously this year. Oaks have come into leaf, though they still have that yellow-brown colour of their early leaves before the chlorophyll masks it with green. But the ash buds are still closed, big and black but unburst. Gazing up into the canopy for any sign of leafage all I can see is what looks like the first flowers which are easily missed and come before the leaves. I also need to record any flowering plants around the tree. Although this wood is always good for bluebells, there have never been any around this tree, but this year there are, as elsewhere in the wood the bluebells seem to be spreading from the swathes of them on the slopes to other areas. A little further along there are wood anemones, but not near enough to the tree to be recorded.

The tree is high up on the ridge at the top of the wood. Following the path along the ridge I look out for a kite’s nest that is visible in the top of one of the trees growing from the bottom of the steep slope, so the path is more or less level with the upper branches of the tree. The nest is there and when I train my binoculars on it I see the kite sitting on it, head turned towards me so that the beak is in profile. I watch for a while then go along the path to a seat surrounded by bluebells. Sitting in it I can see right across the valley and I spend a little time doing just that. The hammering sound of a woodpecker echoes through the trees then stops. A little later I see the bird flash through the trees below me. Is it now Summer? Not quite. When the ash buds open it will be, and that cannot be very long in coming. So I’ll come back to the wood every few days to record the bud burst, the partially and then the fully opened leaves, by which time the canopy of the other trees will have fully developed and I’ll be lucky to get site of the kite’s nest. Then it will be Summer.