Sunday, January 8, 2023

Four Ammanford Poems by Kenneth Morris

Here are four Kenneth Morris poems recalling the Ammanford he knew as a youth. Three poems cover his family’s three houses, Pontamman, Brynhyfryd, and Werneleu. A fourth poem discusses St. Tybie’s Well at nearby Llandybie (St. Tybie was a daughter of a fifth century Welsh king, and an active evangelist for her Christian faith.  She is commemorated with a church in her name in Llandybie.) The poem “The Well at Llandybie” also appears in Morris’s retelling of part of the Mabinogion, The Fates of the Princes of Dyfed (1914).

Pontamman Garden

I remember a crimson rosebush that was in old Pontamman Garden,
And the royal sprays of blossom she would toss and sway in the windy sky,
Speechlessly eloquent in the speech of the soul of the winds and stars and summer
And the blue and dew-dropping Rose of God on high.

And I remember the snow and silver of the clouds over old Pontamman Garden;
And the blue bloom gentianella;  and the windy poplars;  and behind,
The far slopes of Bettws Mountain—the green, quiet slopes of the mountain—
And God in the scent and sound of the mountain wind.

All that had their welfare and pleasure of old in old Pontamman Garden—
They and their prayers and courtships—their hopes and doings and the ways they trod—
Are made a part now of all roses, and snow and silver, and green mountains,
And the far off whisper of mountain winds, and of God.

Old Brynhyfryd Garden

There’s a quiet old enchantment of the heart that’s calling, calling
From when Myrddin wielded magic powers, and Gwydion wove his tales;
And you’ll hear it any April morn, when the apple-bloom is falling
In old Brynhyfryd Garden, in White, Wild Wales.

There’s an Ousel in the Orchard there, and dear knows what he’s telling;
But I think there’s Welsh comes welling from his throat when no one’s nigh,
And it’s he that in Cilgwri in the olden days was dwelling,
And he saw the Quest of Cilhwch, and the old worlds die.

There’s a lonely, lofty spirit that will fire your soul with craving
For the kind and haughty glory of the old, Heroic Kings,
Where the foxglove and sweet-william on the turf-topped walls are waving
In old Brynhyfryd Garden, when the West Wind sings.

There’s a ruin filled with nettles, where I think Ceridwen lingers
When she’s out to gather herbage for the Wisdom Broth she brews:
And maybe you’ll close your eyes there, and you’ll feel the touch of fingers,
Or the dropping down of healing with the cool June dews.

Ancient Magic of the World, it’s the fires of you are burning
When the Wind is in the pine tops, and the moon is o’er the vales;
It’s a rumor of immortal hopes, Immortal Hearts returning
That’s in old Bryahyfryd Garden in the white West of Wales.

The Blubells of Wernoleu: A Welsh Legend

Out of the bluebell bloom of the night
When the east’s agloom and the west’s agleam.
Over the wern at Alder-Light
And the dark stile and the stream,
There’s dew comes dropping of dream-delight
To the deeps where the bluebells dream.

It’s then there’s brooding on wizard stories
All too secret for speech or song,
And rapture of rose and daffodil glories
Where the lone stream wandereth long;
And I think the whole of the Druids’ lore is
Known to the bluebell throng.

For they say that a sky-bee wandered of old
From her island hive in the Pleiades,
Winging o’er star-strewn realms untold,
And the brink of star-foamed seas—
Thighs beladen with dust of gold,
As is the wont of bees.

She left the hives of magical pearl,
Of dark-heart sapphire and pearl and dreams,
Where the flowers of the noon and the night unfurl
Their rose-rimmed blooms and beams—
Fain of the wandering foam awhirl
On the wild Dimetian streams.

Of the rhododendron bloom on the hills—
(There’s dear, red bloom in the pine-dark dell)—
Of rhododendron and daffodils,
And the blue campanula bell,
And the cuckoo-pint by the tiny rills
That rise in Tybie’s  Well.

(And where’s the wonder, if all were known?
There’s many in Michael’s hosts that ride
Would lay down scepter and crown and throne,
And their aureoled pomp and pride,
So they might wander and muse alone
An hour by the Teifi side.

And if anything lovely is under the sky,
That the eye beholds, or the proud heart dreams,
When the pomp of the world goes triumphing by,
When the sea with the sunlight gleams—
It’s show you a lovelier thing could I,
’Twixt Tywi and Teifi streams.

Let be!  whatever of praise be sung,
Here’s one could never make straight the knee,
Nor stay the soul from its paeans flung
Where the winds might flaunt them free,
For a thousand o’ mountains, cloud-fleece hung,
’Twixt Hafren Hen and the sea.)

Musing, down through the firmament vales,
Here and there in a thousand flowers,
Even till at last she was wandering Wales,
Lured by the pure June hours,
Lured by the glamor of ancient tales,
And the glory of age-old towers

Peony splendor of eve and dawn,
Tulips abloom on the border of day,
West on fire with the sun withdrawn,
Night and the Milky Way—
Ah, it was midnight’s bluebell lawn
Most in her heart held sway.

O’er Bettws Mountain she came down slowly,
Drowsy winged through the tangled wern;
Where in the sky was there hill so holy,
With so much glamor to burn,
As the hyacinth wilds beyond Wernoleu,
With their white bells ’mid the fern?

Musing, round by the wern she wandered
From bell to bell with her wings acroon,
There where they laughed and nodded and pondered
Through the beautiful hours of June;
Bluebell-dark were the dreams she squandered
On the gold and green of noon.

And the wild white hyacinths, wondering, heard her.
Suddenly caught by her starry song;
Gave no more ear to the woodland bird, or
Heeded the wild bee throng,
Or laughed with delight of the sunbright verdure
Of fern they had loved so long.

Marvelous thought took hold of them wholly,
Azure of mingled darkness and light,
And they deepened to dark-heart sapphire slowly
With brooding on the splendor of night;
And the first of the bluebells of white Wernoleu
Bloomed, night-blueness dight.

And that’s why the wern at Alder-Light
Is sweet with silence and deep in dream,
In that wizard region of dream-delight
Beyond the stile and the stream,
When the dews have fallen from the bloom of night
On the glooms where the bluebells gleam.

The Well at Llandybie

It’s there, when the glimmering hosts of twilight throng,
That the soul of the Land of Song comes whispering near;
And your heart is caught in a wandering sound of song
That rings from the hills, by the Well at Llandybie,

And you hear strange secrets breathed through the dreaming eve,
Strange secrets breathed, and a learning lone and dear,
Till you’re wrapt away from the will to fear or grieve
By the starry spell of the Well at Llandybie.

The world lacks naught of laughter, naught of light,
When the stars gleam white on the waters cold and clear;
For Immortal Feet are passing, night by night,
Through the old, Welsh field of the Well at Llandybie.

Ah, dear little well where the sunlit kingcups glow
And the stream croons low through the mint-beds, dear and dear!
There’s a Druid’s verse on the least of the winds that blow
O’er the dancing sands of the Well at Llandybie.

Original appearances:

“Pontamman Garden” The Theosophical Path, July 1926

“Old Brynyfrud Garden”  The Theosophical Path, August 1911

“The Blubells of Wernoleu: A Welsh Legend”  The Theosophical Path, December 1911

“The Well at Landybie” The Theosophical Path, January 1912

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