Retreat Cottage, Criccieth




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Robert Graves Poem

Welsh Incident


by Robert Graves


‘But that was nothing to what things came out

From the sea caves of Criccieth yonder'

‘What were they?  Mermaids?  Dragons?  Ghosts?'

' Nothing at all of any things like that.'

' What were they there?'

‘All sorts of queer things,’

‘Things never seen or heard or written about,

Very strange, un Welsh, utterly peculiar

Things.  Oh, solid enough they seemed to touch,

Had anyone dared it.  Marvellous creation,

All various shapes and sizes and no sizes,

All new, each perfectly' and unlike his neighbour,

Though all came moving slowly out together.'

' Describe just one of them'. 'I am unable.'

' What were  their colours?'  'Mostly nameless colours,

Colours you would like to see; but one was puce

Or perhaps more like crimson, but not purplish.

Some had no colour.'

Tell me, how they legs? ''Not a leg nor foot among them that I saw.'

' But did these things come out in any order?

What o'clock was it is?  What was the day of the week?

Who else was present?  How was the weather?'

I was coming to that.  It was half past three

On Easter Tuesday last.  The sun was shining.

The Silver band played Marchog Jesu

On thirty seven shimmering instruments

Collecting for Caernarvon’s (fever) Hospital Fund.

The populations of Pwellhi, Criccieth,

Portmadoc, Borth, Tremadoc, Penrhyndeudraeth,

Were all assembled.  Criccieth’s mayor addressed them

First in good Welsh and then in fluent English,

Twisting his fingers in his chain of office,

Welcoming the things.  They came out on the sand,

Not keeping time to the band, moving seaward

Silently at a snail's pace.  But at last

The most odd, indescribable thing of all,

Which hardly one man there could see for wonder,

Did something recognisably something.'

' Well, what is?'

' It made a noise.'

‘A frightening noise?'

' No, no.'

' A musical noise?  A noise of scuffling?'

No, but a very loud, respectable noise --

Like groaning to oneself on Sunday morning

In chapel, close before the second Psalm.''

' What did the mayor do?'

' I was coming to that.'