Tag Archives Number 6


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For Arthur Kemelman


‘To find the right road out of this despair [the pain of those who walk through the night blindly] civilized man must enlarge his heart as he has enlarged his mind. He must learn to transcend self, and in so doing to acquire the freedom of the Universe’. THE CONQUEST OF HAPPINESS, Bertrand Russell, 1930


The village post office in Penrhyndeudraeth,

Merioneth, was very busy

during the Cuban Missile Crisis

with telegrams to Kennedy and Kruschev

from Bertrand, 3rd Earl Russell – philosopher,

logician; mathematician, author;

moralist, socialist, pacifist.


He lived nearby, down a lane, in a late

seventeenth, early eighteenth century house

with a veranda that commanded views

of the Glaslyn estuary, Porthmadog,

Traeth Mawr, and, south east – if the earth were not

almost round – beyond the tip of Ireland

the Americas. There he had been

labelled – “a believer in free love…

a free thinker…a commie”. ‘Americans,’

he believed, ‘are terrified of thought’.


Below, on the promontory, hidden

by deciduous woods is Portmeirion,

the fantasy village, where Russell once stayed –

an invited guest with Noel Coward,

H.G. Wells and King Zog of Albania –

and laid the foundation stone of the Dome,

a modest homage to Brunelleschi.


Perhaps one bright afternoon in ’66 –

on the veranda in his cane chair,

observing the sun over the Atlantic,

smoking a pipe of his favourite

Friborg & Treyer’s Golden Mixture –

he thought he heard, vivid as in a dream,

someone declare, ‘I am not a number…’




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