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.