Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Twmbarlwm

In the mornings the watching Twmp of Twmbarlwm was silhouetted against the bright sky, dominant and proud. It gazed watchfully towards the River Severn; it gazed affectionately towards the waking valley. But it commanded minds as much as landscape. In his autobiography Far Off Things (1922) the writer Arthur Machen, who came from Caerleon, wrote: 
Twym Barlwm, that mystic tumulus, the memorial of peoples that dwelt in that region before the Celts left the Land of Summer.
It was our mountain, Twmbarlwm, that was part of the landscape that reached out and inspired Machen’s work. Dylan Thomas read those words, which is why in Under Milk Wood Reverend Eli Jenkins writes a poem describing Llareggub Hill and its "mystic tumulus". 
The view from Twmbarlwm appears in the poetry of the poet William Henry Davies, the well-known Newport writer and ‘supertramp’.
Can I forget the sweet days that have gone
When poetry first began to stir my blood
And from the hills of Gwent I saw
The earth torn in two by Severn’s silver flood. 
His were the well-known words:
What is this life if, full of care, 
We have no time to stand and stare?
and I could imagine him, carefree, drinking in the view up on the windy hill.
For Myfanwy Haycock, winner of the 1924 Pontypool National Eisteddfod, Twmbarlwm was the ‘Hill of Dreams.’ It was that for many, including my father, who always spoke of it with affection, as if the memory brought back the days before he left the Land of Summer, and I loved him for it.

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