Welsh Incident – Robert Graves plus addendum


‘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.’

‘Well, what?’

‘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.’

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!

About greencentre

Non grant supported hence independent scientist, green activist, writer and forest planter.
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