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Ode to a Welsh village

A poem to enduring love

By Rachel DeemingPublished 7 months ago 10 min read
Ode to a Welsh village
Photo by Bradley Pritchard Jones on Unsplash

Dear Portmeirion,

It seems strange to be writing this

Knowing that you will never read it.

And yet, a great poet expressed

His joy of a thing in an ode

From an ancient pot to a season

To a bird,

And those planted words,

Again and again,

Have been read and recited and revered,

And heard!

The words winging

Their way through true vocal cords

To sing and exult and praise!

Why not my words as well

Through wires and WIFI and web?

It seems only right that a poem

Should be dedicated to you,

A tribute

To your uniquely quirky splendour.

It may have already been done,

Words spun by another,

Describing your uniqueness,

Your eclecticism, your charm.

But those words are their words,

Other voyeurs to your appeal:

I may find you

Contained within-


Those words are not mine.

This is where the joy is found:

In the expression of my impression,

Gathering together again the warmth,

The excitement, the fulfilment.

I knew of you before,

A site of architecture extraordinary;

I remember Technicolor (TM)

And weirdness synonymous

With the psychedelic 60's vibe, man,

That brought your brightness

And individuality to the awareness

Of many.

Your appeal,


-Despite the trappings of a box:

The Prisoner - a trick of tubes and waves

Beaming your image into homes.

You could have been a film set of façades

And flimsy fronts, propped next to props

Like giant chess pieces,

To be removed when the spool ended.

And therein lies the irony

As this perfectly describes

What you are, indeed what you were:

A TV set, filmed and preserved.

But Time is the great changemaker,

Banging his drum,

Each second a beat towards difference,

Towards adaptation and recognition.

This is 2023 - a new century, over fifty years

Since your earliest fame as a discovery

Worthy of exploration and regard:

Clough's conceit,

A building feat.

Renaissance reborn:

Restoration, preservation,

Appreciation, conservation.

Have you changed much from our first

Brief screen encounter?

I can't wait to see.

I did not know we were to meet.

It was a surprise; a gift from another love

That grew from a discarded comment

From seeing your many faces once more

Projected from a screen;

A flippant remark of longing

To see you in your stuccoed flesh

And explore your alleys and niches

And sample your colours and shapes

And indulge in your vibrancy.

You were being drawn when I saw you last,

Immortalised on canvas ,

Your image being captured by another

Who, in the brightest of summer sun, was allowed

To gaze on you, hours stretching

In your presence and in that moment,

My longing to see you was urgent!

And I voiced it: threw it out to share

Hoping that it would become real.

Because I had never seen your whole -

Just parts, glimpses shared,

Viewed circumspectly

Through the lens of another;

An angled shot of their choosing

The perspective all theirs.

Like a jealous lover

I craved your attention:

I will admit to it without shame.

When others said that they had

Sampled your delights,

I felt Shakespearean green, I will not deny it.

It merely increased my desire

To share that experience

To see you for myself -

To gaze and roam

And marvel.

And my other love?

He listened.

And now, you and I,

We have finally met.

Was this the perfect encounter?

I struggle with perfection,

Knowing that it flees when it's recognised,

Only appearing when least expected

Or at the fruition of arduous labour

Or with the discretion of Lady Luck.

It is fickle and chooses its admirers carefully.

It seemed our meeting would be far

From an idyll reached.

The weather was not good;

Grey, misty, wet - a potential dampener

Of spirit, mood, appearance and apparel,

The constant drumming of drops

A torture Welsh to the core.

But the drive to greet you was spectacular.

Anticipation already high

Augmented by mountain and mist,

Precipice and precipitation,

Slate and scree and startled sheep

On winding narrow roads through

Ancient mythical lands,

Of dragons and princes and magic.

Views emerged as wheels turned

And you grew ever closer.

But we were early yet

And you were not the only place

My heart aspired to view:

An indulgent break in History

On the grey battlements

of Harlech where the men sing

And the stones hold onto days

Of fury and resistance

With Unesco's helping hand.

The solid walls of Harlech

Could not hold us

And the time had finally arrived.

We approached you.

I saw the sign, the hedged driveway.

Another castle greeted us, of many syllables,

Our first point of discovery:

A cheery face at the counter

Bestowed on us the keys to our room -

Unicorn; a name to conjure romance

And child-like wonder.

But what's in a name?

"Unicorn" was a bungalow,

Unassuming and pink,

Practical and with parking.

Simple and sedate and surprising

In its sobriety.

But then! Like a conjuror,

The trick is revealed;

A façade created to conjure,

Your trueness uncovered within and without,

Your best face presented beyond

Perched overlooking the village

In a position of grandeur,

Gated and gardened,

Sweet scents to entice and lure.

A stepped pathway in the green

Revealing the view by degrees.


Our first encounter was promising

And I brimmed with unrivalled happiness.

I was here, within your bounds

And you had greeted me

With delightful deceit,

A cheeky trick to tease

And induce curiosity.

I was enthralled with the anticipation

Of it all.

Of you.


I wanted to see you in brightness

But clouds coated the sun,

Their gloomy heaviness

Dripping down onto my lenses

To obscure my vision

Like a fairground mirror


And inhibiting my carefree footfall -

Eyes floorward.

But we were here to see you

And see you, we would.

Arches, leading to rugged steps

Leading to a viewpoint,

Hindered by grey, unforgiving grey.

A blue grotto of shells, intimate and hidden.

A colonnade, sheltering statues,

The gentle plop of drops in a pool,

Accompanied by a fountain's steady, persistent trickle.

A boat, made concrete, to embark upon

And climb - no need for sea-legs or captaincy.

A tower and Admiral Nelson in colour, poised to salute,

A salutation

At a tunnel to where?

Cobbles, slick and unforgiving;

And rain upon rain upon rain.

We returned to dry out.

You were there but you were not there:

I felt in some ways closer and yet further away -

Is this the deception of imagination?

To have a picture in one's mind

And never see it with one's eyes?

This seemed cruel - to be met

With the summit of one's desire

And have it filtered, watered down,

Presented in monochrome;

Like having a bad meal in a Michelin star restaurant,

Lacking flavour.

I felt a little cheated.

I resisted disappointment but it seeped,

With every droplet of rain: insidious.

Unicorn promised much - a patio

Fragrant with blossom and busy with birds and bees.

I longed to sit and gaze,

To soak and let you into my very bones.

It was unfair; it was unfair of me -

To blame you:

Mountains and sea in close proximity,

The perfect recipe

For Nature's moodiness.

Time to savour now.

Let the grey go:

Accept and enjoy.

Night beckoned.

I wondered

How would you look in the dark?

More alluring, more mysterious?

Gothic perhaps, your strangeness accentuated.

Your best features were uplit

Shadows creating nuance

Not seen in the day.

There was a sense of you:

Giant buddha, glimpses of gold,

Places yet to explore.

And to see you as the light leaves

Is a rarity allowed the few.

Thank you

For the revelation, the intimacy

Of the show from another angle.

Perhaps tomorrow would provide

A fresher glimpse.

I was hopeful

At day's end.


The sun has won!

And we get to bask in its steady stream

Of light warmth through the blousy grey clouds.

Views appear which were veiled

In mist to reveal distinctive lumps:

An estuary of sand and rocks

And an island a small distance away.

Mountains rise to protect the horizon

And the sky shows shots of blue,

Clouds foam to white

And the light illuminates.

You are different today;

The sun makes me lift my head

Like a flower

And I see so much more.

My feet are independent,

No supervision needed,

And my eyes can wander.


A feast of styles! Of colours!

Pastels and ochres, whites and blues,

The brightness of you is palpable.

Domes, plinths, cottages, arches,

Bunged together seemingly

Into a place where people could live,

Have lived, could live again.

I am temporary here, a visitor

But I imagine life here in this decorative space,

This whimsy of Williams-Ellis,


For his own purpose and delight.

I can see it, my life here:

Dressed decadently, dandified

To match my flamboyant surroundings.

Classy and exclusive and eccentric,

My daily strolls, newspaper under arm,

My sitting on a bench, my sunhat askew

My walk to the shore to paddle,

Trousers rolled up.

I feel a connection here, a timeless echo

Of something within me that fits

Perfectly with you.

I savour and swirl every moment

Eyes wide, heart full.

There are few moments like this

In life.

I have been lucky, I realise.

It is quiet, and I thank my old enemy, the rain

As it dawns that it has been a friend

A shield from crowds, an instigator of intimacy

Which has granted me an exclusivity

Like a nightclub bouncer or bodyguard.

At times, it is just me and my family

Wandering and discovering.

I am allowed to enjoy this time with you


Grasping the memories slowly,

Letting them sink deep into my mind

To store and restore from time to time.

I have been blessed.

You are there in my thoughts:

The feelings you engendered

The sights you presented

Juxtaposition of the jaded and jewelled.

I shared what you offered

And it warms me still.

People talk of magic:

I am not ashamed to say

I felt it with you.

I did not want to leave,

I wanted to remain in your weirdness,

Your uniqueness, your beauty.

I don't know if I'll see you again.


There is a word in Welsh: hiraeth

Which speaks of longing, nostalgia,

Yearning, an eagerness to return

To that which is known,

To where one belongs.

It sits in the pit at the core of your being

Like a weight, waiting for release

With reconnection.

I feel it now, as I write

Heavy and solid.

It is a reminder of the time

I spent with you

And how I long to return...

Mae hiraeth -

My Portmeirion.


Portmeirion is a village on a peninsular in North Wales which was the creation of Clough Williams-Ellis, an architect who thought that buildings of different styles and periods could be placed together and made into a place, a village to live. It is truly eclectic and a little bit twee but there is something so whimsical about it, so playful, that it is difficult not to fall in love with it.

I have a milestone birthday this year and staying there for two nights was a gift from my husband as a surprise. I had always wanted to visit, but to actually stay there in one of the buildings was, for me, a dream come true. I would have settled for a day trip but to inhabit it, just for a little while - well, this was a truly thoughtful gift.

It rained. Wales is notorious for rain but it cleared and the contrast between Portmeirion in the rain compared to it in the sun was remarkable. I loved it in the grey but in the sun, it lit up, Mediterranean-like, transformed whilst still keeping its Welsh essence.

The days I spent there were magical and I would love to go again, long to, in fact.

This is my love poem to Portmeirion.

artperformance poetrylove poems

About the Creator

Rachel Deeming

Mum, blogger, crafter, reviewer, writer, traveller: I love to write and I am not limited by form. Here, you will find stories, articles, opinion pieces, poems, all of which reflect me: who I am, what I love, what I feel, how I view things.

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