Poetry Blog by Chris Armstrong


For Gwen, Anne and Eryl


In that happy heady grass-green Spring of my years

A time of lambent lamb slow lamb full days around a whited cottage

Lent us space and ease beneath the sun long sky

Golden glorious hours together in a single thought

With close chicken scrape and distant herd

When the swallows dipped to the fly buzz

When the kite climbed to a gliding speck


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Cambrian MountainscountrysidecowsEndymionfarmsfieldshorseslovemoonnightpastoralSelenesheepstarssunWales

Mostly Welsh

I grew up in Wales

Around the Swansea docks

I walked beneath huge cargo ships

Held up with props and blocks


I was made in Wales

Around the southern ports

I watched the big ships dock

My family guessed my thoughts


I was mined in Wales

Near valleys black with slag

And closing pits and picket lines

With many a mine lodge flag


I was forged in Wales


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docksexperienceheritagehistorylifemerchant navyportsseafaringshipsSwanseatravelWalesWelsh

One people

I will not fight, I will not stand

For border, nor for any land

I need not know, am not concerned

Your place of birth or language learned

Too many wars are fought, too many die

Over province, pride, triumphal lie


I will not guard, I will not bar

The stranger landed from afar

They need a home, and wish to settle

Want to work, to show their metal

We can only profit...

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Danger! No Swimming

A poem for Manchester Art Gallery


Lily of the water, Nymph thou art

Perfect buds rising from cold dark depths

Flower faeries with alabaster skin emerging

Waxen ivory clothing a golden heart


Show love! Watch over this foolish boy

Who would risk all amongst your beauty,

Careless haste for pleasure clouding wisdom

Your ancient roots may yet ensnare his joy



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dangerHylasNymphaeaceaeNymphsswimmingwater lilies


O, where roams your delicate soul

Does it yet travel the seas

                gliding afar with the Arctic tern

                or is its delight in quieter waters

                in dappled river pools or streams

Is it content to rest in the cool damp shade of the willow

watching minnows play

                diving among the nymphs

                and sacred lotus



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Alcedo atthisAtthiscalmdesireHalcyonHylasKingfisherlosslovepassion

A dream itself is but a shadow

In the grey cloudlight of a pre-dawn moon

something stayed my dream

a stray insistent noise heard through sleep

the uncertain call of the hunting owl:

I am knelt naked at the window -

beneath, the frosted grass glimmers in the pale creamglow

hazy through the early swirls of mist

but not a shade or waft disturbs the spectral scene

although my flesh seems chilled by some slig...

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Aberystwyth Scenes, 1970

It was always The Cabin

before her lectures


                and Flic demolishing

                                The Times crossword,

                                sharing the clues but

                                writing the answers

                                as she read, smoked,

                                pushed her blond hair


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1970sAberystwythCeredigioncoffeeCwrt MawrPrice AlbertSkinners Armsstudent lifestudentsstudyTalbotThe Cabinuniversity


Those love letters from the seventies

I could not bear to read again

and could not bear to throw


Those airmail forms

those tortured lonely twelve page laments

that I read and read so many times

in my cabin off Cape Town,

in Melbourne and Sydney:

So many words

So  much love


But in the end

They were just ash

And I scattered them


Ashes to her ashe...

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letterslovelove letter

The Man on the Mountain

In the inky winter darkness

A rough track from the lane

Leads upward onto the mountain:

                A small glimmer hints at life

                and we wonder where we are being led.

Out of the blackness, a dark shape shows in the slight mist

                The lights in a window flicker dimly yellow

                and the smell of peat smoke drifts down in the still ai...

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1970sCeredigionCottageMynydd BachPeatPurdeyshotgunsWales


The sand was always hot

                beside the white dunes and the coarse grass


The sea was always blue

                between the black rocks and the horizon haze


The beach was always ours

                between the seagull shout and the distant crowd


We were always alone

               between the far world and our near union


We swa...

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beachdunesfutureGowermarriagesandseasouth walesswimmingWales


from an idea by Conrad Aiken


The Lounge

Netted windows with fawn roller blinds

lowered a little by their macramé tassels for his forty winks

Shush! Be quiet, he's having his nap, don't make a din -

or completely, when at night

he shovelled the last coal from the bin

concealed in its wooden cabinet

and lowered the heavy lid on the fire to keep it in


The Playroom


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The Poet's Problem

Impulse is the best linguist

So Mr Thoreau thought

And often what is written here

Is spoiled by what is later brought



All I write and sometimes rhyme

Falls on the page untaught

So needs some tender love and care

Before you see it as you ought



The lines you read from any page

Should by your ear be caught

As best words ordered to flow well


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Hen dŷ

This old farm cottage of mine

keeps all my years safe

for it knows my secret ways

and remembers


There are shadows in the shadows

but in some rooms

my sons have hidden smiles

to lead me in


There is more solitude indoors

but here and there

she has retained a past caress

to warm me


The old mirror we found at market

still retains her ghost


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The lake is still in the evening sun

A little breeze make the longer grass sway on the bank

and a ripple disturb the surface:

A mayfly lands

A swallow drinks and is gone before I see

With a rattle, a duck takes off from behind the island

Then it is still again

Beneath the reflections are fish

Sometimes - but not yet tonight -

A circle of ripples flows out from a rise


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Prometheus Redux

Semper animus libera



O Thou that watches over all

And marks the good in man

Unnamed Godhead of all the thronging spirits

Who guard thy mortal worlds -

When skies darken and the plunging waves roil through

When the mountains themselves spit ruddy fire

And melt into valleys or crash steaming into the ocean deeps -

To keep thy people safe in those mortal li...

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DemogorganfaithJupitermythologyMythsold mythspraisepriestsPrometheusreligion


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Recent Comments

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raypool on Aberystwyth Scenes, 1970 (Sat, 10 Feb 2018 08:19 pm)

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