Hiraeth

Behind the dam that holds back the floods, There hides a place that’s homesick for itself; Polluting the fresh air, the town churns out a nausea That funnels down the streets, by rows of houses, into cars Stopped, winded, by the side of winding roads. A sense of crisis precipitated only by the overhanging Weight of the reservoir, is kept in check by but the rain’s sermon. In common with revolution, or a resolution Of New Year’s, many regret the settlement, Now forever into the Valleys scarped and shaped, For the sake of black gold. In their Rhonddarhetoric One hears talk of digging deep, of recovering A past that did not exist, or at least from a terminal lack Of care necessary, as befits an end-of-the-line-dropoff-point. In pubs where bitter’s served warm on tap, A certain class of men will vent a nostalgia Quite understated yet here stamped firm, as if a mark Of high quality. What makes their eyes still further crack— Or is that become steeled to the future? The same process that left them milling about, that mixed The hardness of souls with flexible labour laws, that militarised heritage. To tour around the local cwms and tors Is welcoming that wistfulness which fogs The fells in clichés of Wales, either on foot Or with woolly prose set to task sloganising turf. Thus is Hiraeth strewn vaguely over hills, Belying as they must the nature of life, what poverty exists Under the auspices of farms and hearths, what essence extracted. Not that a name means a thing, for where Resides such elusive heartache also works hope. The hinterland has always kept paradise its secret, Though now inundated with opiates, amphetamines, and ket— Stalks the land no spectre but a wraith. It’s Time! call tenant-landlords from overlooked vantage points, And all go home, the morning to construct new mechanisms for coping.

Frederick Coombes