Poetry of the Mawddach

Roger Redfern 1975

Roger Redfern is one of my favourite writers about the Mawddach estuary and the mountains he knew so well – both as the chronicler of his family’s life on a dairy farm in Cutiau, and as one of The Guardian’s leading countryside correspondents.

This poem is taken from Verses from my Country and is the equivalent of a big, steaming mug of silky hot chocolate on a chilly Autumn afternoon.


 A slant of winter sunlight through the naked trunks

 And on the slopes to either side

 The russet bracken flaming.

 The little trees are empty, still alive in sleep.

 My shadow, long and pale, climbs up the slope of lane

 Ahead, and on the brow it levels out.

 Behind, the sea silent with distance

 Creams on the winter shore,

 Lit by a mellow sun.

 In front, two men are walking

 With a dog before me in the hillside glow.

 No breeze rustles dead leaves

 Not a sound but silence

 Over all with her sparkling cloak

 Says, “This is my domain, an ancient natural law.”

 And up the hillside lane I go.

 Where the sweep of Llawllech drops down

 To the Mawddach glistening below,

 And washed sands and pebbles sing

 With the tide; there on the slopes

 Where ffridd melts into higher brown

 And ruggedness, the song of the curlew

 Echoes in the sun that suggests coming spring.

 Lone white and purple clusters

 Bob above the breeze-washed grass.

 Gorse is gold again and swinging gates are open wide.

 The sky, like Pacific solitude, is ranged

 W ith islands, white and mounta inous,

 Floating high. Before the sun pales more the skylark’s

 Song climbs to the unatt i inable blue.

At Ffridd Bant I look along

That lane that leads by bullrush bed

But not today to tread that way.

Instead up the hill between high banks

Past Llwyn-gloddaeth, empty as winter branches,

Onto the opening of the way, the levelling of the land.

 The whole, wide world is opened up.

 From Diphwys’s moulded top and far sheepwalks

 To cringing grass-blades at my feet –

 A splendid harmony, a charitable harmony!

 Now through the gate and down the lane,

 On the way a wave from Llwyn-onn’s doorway.

 Blue with paint; and Home again.

 Through the gateway with the swinging gate

 That squeaks and crashes to.

 Down and down with walls of hazel and thorn

 And whispering waters as I go

 On the descending way.

 I tread in Grace’s steps,

 Long now silent since she went along the road

 To live the evening days

 In the hovel at Bontddu.

 The fallen roof, the cowshed

 And the chimney stacks

 Stand, girt with shrub and leaf.

 In the shade the everlasting waters run and splash,

 Welcoming me once more.

 Returning I have come,

 And up there in the skylark’s everlasting sky,

 The sun says, “Home again. “

Poetry of the Mawddach: 1887


Canon HD Rawnsley 


The river failed as if a wizard’s wand

Had smote it; where dark Idris mirrored lay,

 Behind his woody skirts and range of grey,

 Was unreflecting waste and wrinkled sand;

 No life, no light, but here and there a band

 Of hyacinthine blue, that stole away,

 Like to a guilty thing, toward the bay,

 And left the boats heeled helpless on the strand.

 Then from the central sea a whisper came,

 The salt white water swam as smooth as oil,

 Swept o’er the shoals of sun and flickering gold.

 Other, but inconceivably the same,

 Incessant, but without a sign of toil,

 Renewing all, the generous tide was rolled.

Sonnets Round the Coast