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'Castell Dinas Bran', Richard Wilson, circa 1771

The path zigzags upwards to the keep, like

smoke or a hare hounded. Magpies lowfly

the gorse, bank to a clump of pine, barks pink

as coral. Ravens wheel. Birds and the wind

disdain the ruins peasants carted, raised,

razed and thieved. Before allegiances, walls

was this hill, that vast, limestone precipice

and, everywhere, silent, ancient waters.

Whoever sees the turf worn with walkers’

traffic and earth’s crust shining, whoever

looks across the vanished sea to the cliff’s

myriad catacombs will imagine the hoe

snick in the furrow, the clangour of arms

and the chough’s triumphant croak.

Defenders,  tousled on the battlements,

watched fields sown, leaves fall, expected Saxons.

Foes were covert. A viaduct terminates

the valley and trim, mechanical

dynasties converge on the smoky plain.

The journey from Powys to the Five Towns

was all of sixteen leagues, as ravens fly,

a thousand years and such optimism.




© Copyright David Selzer

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