Not far from the Banks of the Irfon

(Cilmeri, December 11: for those who still gather there)

You see, it must have been somewhere,
in this sloping field or that;
where Dafis walked his dog today,
whose snout went snuffling
in a certain broom-choked patch;
where lovers lay last summer in the flattened sun-dried grass,
or lay, for that matter, in that self-same spot
a hundred or so years ago;
or there upon the hillside where the fat, incurious sheep
chew now upon the cud.
Or beneath that rooted blackthorn, succoured
by the good black soil that sucked the seeping blood.

But no-one knows the exact place, now,
where the spearhead bit into close-knit mail,
where the long sword’s steel described its arc
when the whetted blade swung at its mark –
where there and then it was the cross, the talisman, the shield,
was wrenched from round the very neck of Wales.

And now the needle thrusts against the sky
in a chosen place that’s plain to see,
in the still, the cold December air, where the chill is felt
as it might have been those seven hundred years ago.
And banners flap yet in a rising breeze as they did in that age gone by –
and songs are sung and verses read
for the one who fell, nearby, somewhere
    – but no-one knows exactly where –
in whose living name fresh tribute is paid
from year to passing year, from one year to the next.

From ‘Welsh Past and Present’

2 thoughts on “Not far from the Banks of the Irfon

  1. I love this ‘take’ on one of the most important events in our nation’s history, particularly the descriptions of everyday events in Stanza 1, which ‘ground’ us and link us so closely to that night over seven hundred years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jacydo. Yes, in Stanza 1, for those who are acquainted with the events leading up to Llewelyn’s murder, the fact that Dafis’ dog was snuffling in a certain ‘broom-choked patch’ is particularly significant in linking the past with the present.

      Liked by 1 person

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