Hiraeth and Hwyl: Escaping Ophelia by Richard Taylor

To celebrate the publication of The Long Field, the author Pamela Petro asked eight writers, poets and artists to explore the ideas of hiraeth and hwyl for this new sequence on The Clearing. Today the poet Richard Taylor finds the space between reality and imagination.



A softly curved and bright grey thing

was Ophelia in the stream, I dreamed, staring

up through the thin water, her tresses curling

in the grass and dappled shadows

of the overhanging trees.


As I walked often by in the wood,

the granite split below a vanished bridge was there

begging rescue from ignominy, and I from its stone eye

unclaimed but for a dream.


She was a maid I met on stage, and she came with me

to the stream, the dream, and the pale stone. A dream

falls upon a thing quite beautiful, already more than itself,

parades with it


in the mask of metaphor that tried my eyes. In a dry July

I looped a chain around a waist beneath the mud,

snugged it to a tree, and inched the stone from burial

with windlass arm and August afternoons.


Abduction from a dream takes time tugging,

as love does, relentless and slow up a long plank

and wide to a warm bank and rest

as the thing itself.


The farmer and his tractor fetched it there,

set its cut curve spanning a stone and stump

in a field behind the barn, reclining in my eye’s arms,

if on occasion at a distance in the twilight

posing as a leaf.





Richard Taylor is a poet whose work is grounded in the hard reality of  country life, and who has published two volumes of his poetry, the latest being Footfalls of the Unknown. He’s also a language and literature teacher, and represented the US at the 1964 Winter Olympics.

Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.