Poem of the month




of Amlwch,

a pattern of fields and buildings

interlocking with lives

that drift

and jolt down centuries


in conflict and agreement,

through the blind accelerations of history,

the growth of poems,

the advance and retreat of peoples,


personal defeat and victory.

Like others before me,

I make shift among scatterings

of lived material:


first when the system of cymorth, mutual help

precluded the need for a Poor Rate

in the unbroken tradition of the farming hamlet

its innocence broken by copper;

then through the mining boom

when a sympathetic priest

petitioned for the injured

to the agent of Lord Anglesey


and through the simultaneous trough of the wave:

a hut full of naked children

destitute of all conveniences

and almost all necessities


a patchwork of rags to be coveted

under the threat of the red cloth badge

of dependence on the parish –

beginnings of the red menace in Wales.


In the wake of those years,

the visiting of the people

with a winter of cholera.


In the good times, neighbourly

hogs rooted at liberty in the streets.


Now we have tourism,

materially paper-thin,

letting in the light.


Patchworks of Amlwch,

a pattern of fields and buildings

interlocking with lives.




© Steve Griffiths 2018





This was the first poem in my first book, Anglesey Material (1980). As I enter my seventieth year, I've been reassessing what I've done. And of course, you stumble across flaws that are frustrating to see. This is one of about a dozen that I've tweaked. I'm calling the process 'restoration', because less gets in the way of what I wanted to say.

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