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,
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,
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
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
-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:
A building feat.
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,
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 my other love?
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.
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 -
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,
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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 -
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.
About the Creator
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.