literature

Thomas Traherne goes walking

November 7, 2020 0 Comments
Thomas Traherne goes walking

Today Thomas Traherne is counted alongside George Herbert and Henry Vaughan as one of the great ‘metaphysical’ poets of the seventeenth century.  All three, interestingly, were men of Welsh and Welsh Borders origin.  Herbert was born in Montgomery, Vaughan came from Llansantffraed near Talybont-on-Usk and returned there to live, and Traherne was probably born in […]

Continue Reading »

‘Ymharadwys’: Pentre Eirianell

October 16, 2020 0 Comments
‘Ymharadwys’: Pentre Eirianell

Yn ddiweddar digwyddodd imi fod mewn sgwrs ebost â thenant presennol Pentre Eirianell.  Hwn yw’r hen dŷ fferm ar ymyl Bae Dulas ar Ynys Môn lle magwyd ‘Morysiaid Môn’ – Lewis, Richard, William, Elin a Siôn (neu John) Morris – yn gynnar yn y ddeunawfed ganrif. Gwelais i’r tŷ am y tro cyntaf ym Medi […]

Continue Reading »

In praise of Kathleen Jamie

October 2, 2020 0 Comments
In praise of Kathleen Jamie

The half of me that’s Scots lies buried, and usually dormant.  It comes to life when visiting Scotland.  But since my parents died, there’s less obvious reason to go, and we’ve not been there for a few years.  Sometimes I daydream about moving to live in a newly independent Scotland, released from bonehead, vicious British […]

Continue Reading »

Vernon Watkins: a second visit

September 25, 2020 1 Comment
Vernon Watkins: a second visit

This year’s Haf Bach Mihangel, the forecasters say, will come to an abrupt end tomorrow, on the autumn equinox.  But today’s a perfect day: hot, with sunshine from dawn to dusk, and only the slightest of breezes.  I’m walking the coast to Oxwich.  After climbing out of Pwll Du Head the path is easy going, […]

Continue Reading »

Emily Dickinson’s ‘What care the Dead’

July 24, 2020 3 Comments
Emily Dickinson’s ‘What care the Dead’

When I’m distracted or glum I often reach for the poems of Emily Dickinson. I’ve an old copy of Thomas H. Johnson’s complete edition, published in this country by Faber.  It’s less of a book and more of a box.  With its stocky build and 770 pages it looks like a box of postcards.  You […]

Continue Reading »

Chaos describ’d

June 19, 2020 0 Comments
Chaos describ’d

These days chaos as a concept has been captured by mathematics and physics. (Sometimes it gets re-exported to the popular imagination through tropes like the butterfly effect.)  But before that it was available to anyone.  It was especially attractive to philosophers, theologians and mystics, and to creative people like writers and artists. Chaos has always […]

Continue Reading »

Cymru a W.G. Sebald

June 12, 2020 0 Comments
Cymru a W.G. Sebald

Cyhoeddodd W.G. Sebald Austerlitz, ei nofel olaf (os mai nofel yw hi) yn Almaeneg yn 2001.  Pan ddaeth y fersiwn Saesneg allan yn 2002, roedd yn syndod i ddarllenwyr yma i ddarganfod mai Cymru yw un o’i phrif leoliadau, mewn llyfr sy’n crwydro dros rannau helaeth o gyfandir Ewrop.  Hanes dyn o’r enw Jacques Austerlitz […]

Continue Reading »

On sparrows

May 15, 2020 0 Comments
On sparrows

Obituaries lift the heart.  They’re the part of any newspaper or magazine to turn to first if you want to cheer yourself up by reading about the positive side of human nature.  At the moment, when the news pages resemble an unending nightmare by Hieronymus Bosch, that’s especially true.  Last week I read on Twitter […]

Continue Reading »

‘Reports of my death’: the many lives of Jean Rhys

April 25, 2020 1 Comment
‘Reports of my death’: the many lives of Jean Rhys

False news is now so natural a part of our world that few people are surprised to read about the deaths of people who remain stubbornly alive.  There are plenty of examples, many of them recent.  Wikipedia lists over 300 in one of its more amusing pages, List of premature obituaries. The ‘reported death’ people […]

Continue Reading »

Lludd and the three plagues

March 30, 2020 2 Comments
Lludd and the three plagues

Lludd, son of Beli Mawr (‘Lud’ in English) is king of the Island of Britain, and a wise and successful ruler.  From his capital, Caer Lludd (London), he takes care of his subjects, housing them well and supplying them with ample food and drink.  One of his brothers, Llefelys, is king of France.  So begins […]

Continue Reading »