Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Hiraeth

I went back to Cwmcarn a few years ago. Beech Terrace was still there, Number One had gained lovely wide windows and was light and airy. The fine views down to Crosskeys and up to Twmbarlwm could be enjoyed from the house as well as the outside toilet! 
My father lies on Mynyddislwyn.  He looks down on a valley that is now green, for the heavy industry of his childhood and mine has gone, as has the top line and the canal. The River Ebbw, once black and lifeless, is now clear and clean, and leaping fish swim in its bright waters. The salmon of knowledge has returned.
Above Cwmcarn the Forestry Commission had created a drive through the whispering forests of larch, with picnic-places peopled with carvings, carving of mythical characters and creatures from folktales. 
There I found characters from many of the stories of my youth. There were the giant Ysbaddaden, Culwch, Olwen, Twrch Trwyth, The Eagle of Gwernabwy, the Owl of Cwm Cawlyd and, in their hundreds, the Tylwyth Teg. It was as if all my memories had briefly taken physical form and were reaching out to new pilgrims in the Land of the Summer Stars.
Since then the carvings have gone, victims of clearance to prevent larch die-back disease. But the forest drive has been re-opened. Change is all around but the geography is unaltered and you and I know that the stories are still there. Still there and everywhere, all around us. It’s up to us to pass them on. 
For now, farewell and God bless you.

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