ERDDIG: REFLECTIONS ON PATRIMONY

From the corner summerhouse set in the wall,

the towering lime trees between the canals –

at the eastern end of the formal garden –

are still leafless, like jet lace work, like nets

disentangling, against the light blue skies

and the white, driven, cumulus clouds of March.

 

This was a medium-sized business. They made

their money the usual gentry way from rents

plus coal, were typically self-sufficient,

using and selling their managed timber,

were unusually innovative in

hydraulic projects,

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THE OPTIMISM OF ENGINEERS

For John Huddart

 

Whichever way you approach the town of Fflint,

on the coast road east or west, down Halkyn

Mountain, from the Dee Estuary, you see

the towers first – Richard, Bolingbroke and Castle

Heights, three 1960s, multi-storey

social housing blocks – not the castle.

 

Richard Plantagenet, Richard of Bordeaux,

King of England, surrendered to his cousin

and childhood friend, Henry of Bolingbroke,

in the inner bailey of the castle,

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AND WITH A LITTLE PIN

On liberty’s last morning, he said mass

in the Great Tower – the chapel was cold

as winter. August’s sun warmed the rebels

riding along the estuary shore,

their drums silent. He watched from the walls.

At his back, the seas breaking on Ireland. King

and Usurper, first cousins, exchanged

purple words in the base court, a surfeit of

epithets: bombast, self-pity. Serfs

were indifferent but Richard’s dog fawned

on new majesty. The epicure

who bespoke a coat of cloth of gold

rode captive from Fflint to London in the same

suit of clothes.

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THE WRECK OF THE SS ROTHESAY CASTLE

A dirty night in the Menai Straits…

a paddle steamer on a sudden sandbank –

pounding itself, pounding itself, pounding…

seas silencing the hullabaloo.

 

For the last time, the lifeboat pulls for the shore.

Two lovers, roped to the mast, drown their joy.

 

All turned to chalk on the dark sea bed.

Far, far above was the muffled cry

of gulls, the cormorant’s swift shadow.

 

 

Note: the poem was originally published on the site in November 2009.

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BRYN CELLI DDU, YNYS MÔN

This March day is replete with the bright warmth

of spring and ewes bleating for their lambs.

Cropped, walled grass rolls like a green, chequered sea.

The name translates: ‘Hillock of the black grove,

the dark cell’.  The sacred trees have gone:

with the Druids, out-run by Rome’s legions;

and the wheat fields, which fed all of Cymru

before the Plantagenets came. High ground

and megalith survive:  sign-posted, fenced.

 

A passage of shale slabs opens on a round

chamber,

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