Ode to Swansea

VERNON WATKINS
Bright town, tossed by waves of time to a hill,
Leaning Ark of the world, dense-windowed, perched
High on the slope of morning,
Taking fire from the kindling East:
Look where merchants, traders, and builders move
Through your streets, while above your chandler’s walls
Herring gulls wheel, and pigeons,
Mocking man and the wheelwright’s art.
Prouder cities rise through the haze of time,
Yet, unenvious, all men have found is here.
Here is the loitering marvel
Feeding artists with all they know.
There, where sunlight catches a passing sail,
Stretch your shell-brittle sands where children play,
Shielded from hammering dockyards
Launching strange, equatorial ships.
Would they know you, could the returning ships
Find the pictured bay of the port they left
Changed by a murmuration,
Stained by ores in a nighthawk’s wing?
Yes. Through changes your myth seems anchored here.
Staked in mud, the forsaken oyster beds
Loom; and the Mumbles lighthouse
Turns through gales like a seabird’s egg.
Lundy sets the course of the painted ships.
Fishers dropping nets off the Gower coast
Watch them, where shag and cormorant
Perch like shades on the limestone rocks.
You I know; yet who from a different land
Truly finds the town of a native child
Nurtured under a rainbow,
Pitched at last on Mount Pleasant hill?
Stone-runged streets ascending to that crow’s nest
Swinging East and West over Swansea Bay
Guard in their walls Cwmdonkin’s
Gates of light for a bell to close.
Praise, but do not disturb heaven’s dreaming man
Not awakened yet from his sleep of wine.
Pray, while the starry midnight.
Broods on Singleton’s elms and swans.