‘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, then?’
‘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 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’d like to see; but one was puce
Or perhaps more like crimson, but not purplish.
Some had no colour.’
‘Tell me, had they legs?’
‘Not a leg or foot among them that I saw.’
‘But did these things come out in any order?’
What o’clock was it? 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 Harlech Silver Band played Marchog Jesu
On thirty-seven shimmering instruments
Collecting for Caernarvon’s (Fever) Hospital Fund.
The populations of Pwllheli, 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 recognizably a something.’
‘It made a noise.’
‘A frightening noise?’
‘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.’
I was coming to that
Well, come on. What?
Well, come on. What?
Oh, how it echoed in my head.
Time and time he’d said it and now
What did he say?
I listened back to myself.
And I saw myself.
Agog and Aghasting
Hearing all he had to say.
My, and every one person was spellbound
And no-one believed a word
Except it might have been true
Well, it could have been true because
These things happened
Especially on the Traeth
And last thing at night
On a summer evening
As you walked back home
Was he drunk then or was he tipsy?
Does that explain his observations?
Well I’m sure he was both although
It was a sunday evening.
And they had Temperance then
And no-one could drink in the pubs at all
But I’m betting he had a club to go to –
They always did that after the service,
After the preacher telling them
What to think
And when to do it.
But that would not have clouded his judgement
He always saw what he saw.
And he saw no need for embellishment
When he came to speak.
So they were then, all over the beach
Strange, strange beings – no colours and no feet?
Most certainly there and maybe some kind of pink
And I’m sure the Mayor addressed them but
Then it gets.
Dieu I have to think.
Look, he told me lots of things and forgot a whole lot more
Those creatures, they were there then and, well, yes,
All over the shore
No, he couldn’t get the colours right
and he might have missed the limbs
Did he say they repeated that morning’s chapel hymns?Yes,
There, on the sands, as the waves rushed up
Those not quite so welcome visitors opened out to sing.
And the mayor?
Well, he joined in.
Author’s notes Somebody suggested the poem by Robert Graves was not finished. Well, of course it ain’t – it’s a shaggy dog/soap poem I’m sure. Above is where it took me!