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Where the Menai Straits are at their narrowest,

between two bluffs, Thomas Telford chose to build

his one span suspension bridge, high enough

for tall ships to pass. The two towers,

exposed to the tides, were built of limestone blocks

from the Penmon quarries on the coast

north of here. Caernavon Castle had been built

from Penmon stone – and blocks were shipped to Dublin

to line the Liffey with wharfs and quays.


Telford, the ‘Colossus of Roads’, was reared

in penury – a stone mason by trade,

a self-taught engineer, begetter of

the A5 coaching road, erstwhile Watling Street;

the London-Holyhead trunk from Marble Arch

to Admiralty Arch by the Irish Sea.


Built a generation later, a mile south

and within sight, is Stephenson’s railway bridge.

Two British industrial colossi

so close in space and time! So much investment,

ingenuity, innovation, to keep

the Catholic colonies of Ireland,

those reserves of navvies and wheat, in thrall!


Between the bridges are The Swellies

around Fish Trap Island – Ynys Gorad Goch –

whirling at high tide, lake calm at low water.

The Druids, deemed Rome’s enemies, were hunted.

They crossed here in coracles, felt safe at last

on Ynys Môn, Mam Cymru.  They watched the soldiers

swim like dogs across the sacred waters.

Rome’s mercenaries ran them down like boar,

skewering them among the flowering gorse.





© Copyright David Selzer
1 Response
  • John Huddart
    June 28, 2019

    Another poem bridging lands, past and present landscapes – and pleasant conceit at the back of all – it’s about bridges! There’s a themed volume waiting here…………

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