Hiraeth and Hwyl: Vanish by Kathy Miles


For a new sequence on The Clearing to celebrate the publication of The Long Field, the author Pamela Petro invited eight writers, poets and artists to contribute pieces exploring hiraeth and hwyl, Welsh ideas, but rooted deeply in us all.  In Vanish the poet Kathy Miles considers that most typical of Welsh weather, mist.



Some days the land is stolen from itself,

chimneys and slate roofs swallowed, village

and pit-head lost to this cold mouth of mist


as it muffles hymn and chapel bell, silences

the scold of crows that crowd around

the plough like a flock of ranting preachers.


It snags on fence and gorse, collects in hollows,

conjures rabbits secretly from burrows. Egrets

skim the river, small ghosts on gauzy wings.


Maps are useless now, in a world of blinded

signs. Mountains pull up roots, drift away

to the vanishing point like wandering erratics.


Fields’ old names have gone: Cae Gwair,

Cae Gwyn, Cae Derlwyn, their winter stubble

bleached to a wash of heron-grey.


Some days it comes in so densely, it seems

the dead have returned, cluster in damp

ranks, blowsy as hooped petticoats.


Here I am a slow dissolve; a disappearing

landmark in this place, where nothing is solid

or certain, not even the quiet constancy of flesh.





Kathy Miles was born in Liverpool but has spent much of her life in West Wales, which informs and inspires much of her poetry. She is the author of five books including Bone House and Gardening with Deer. Follow her on twitter: @kathym974.


The Long Field by Pamela Petro is out now.


The image at the head of this poem is by Pamela Petro.





1 Comment

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Marged Pendrellreply
October 1, 2021 at 7:27 pm

Such a beautiful poem with haunting images that will return to me when I am walking in the mist.
I particularly love the line -“Mountains pull up roots ,drift away ……”

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