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Whichever way the visitors choose to come –

up the steep, narrow road with blind corners

and left onto the Harlech Castle car park

or walking down from the high street – most

make for the statue, especially those

with young children attracted by the horse.


It is a war horse, so the tail is docked.

Its neck and head are lowered, its legs splayed,

its nostrils flaring, its eyes wide. It carries

two kings: Bendigeidfrân – Brân the Blessed

– and his nephew, Gwern, a boy still, who lies dead

across the horse’s flanks, bound in a cloth

wrapped tightly round his uncle. Brân – whose name

means ‘Raven’ – is hairless, his arms merely stumps

and his legs lopped off below the knee.

He was once a giant who crossed the sea

in a dozen strides. Later in these same

Irish wars his head will be severed.

His seven companions will bring it back

talking to Harlech, where it will hold court

for seven years. They will bury it

on the westernmost isle of Gwales.


The sculptor’s work is mostly busts or statues

in bronze of figures of note: statesmen,

soldiers, artists, and these mystic kings

from the Mabinogion. Most visitors

are silenced by the three figures though some

seem unconcerned by the horror or are

too embarrassed to mention it.

The littoral that features in the stories

is now populated with caravan sites.


Such rhetorical bathos is arriviste,

for they were bards for millennia,

makers of metaphor. ‘The severed head

spoke. But one, curious for truth, opened

the forbidden door…’. Before messiahs,

before calendars, before the curve

of the imagination, ‘the waters

turned, replete with gods and birds, unsung,

unblessed, empty of man’.




Note: The statue is ‘The Two Kings’ by Ivor Roberts-Jones –




© Copyright David Selzer

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