Clawdd Terfyn

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


This collection of poems examines the impacts of climate change on communities in Wales and is structured around images of a farmer on his death bed. Through images of memories, present uncertainties and an apocalyptic future, impacts on landscape and society are presented. The first poem depicts the farmer in hospital kept alive by a life-support machine and medication. The second describes a vision of a landscape scarred by flooding and erosion, the patterns of human influence on the landscape shattered, which is, possibly, a drug-induced hallucination. Refugees are depicted walking across a post-apocalyptic landscape and a preacher searches for refuge in the chapel. I then return to the old farmer on the ward whose time is running out. The sixth poem depitcs a fuel rationing after peak oil. The seventh poem is full of images from the farmer’s memories of harvesting hay in the days before mechanisation, before his illness and before climate change began to unsettle the familiar patterns. It is a memory distorted by time. The eighth poem depicts a polar bear ‘dancing’ on the melting and thinning ice, becoming a metaphor for human society. The penultimate poem returns to the farmer who has survived another night, and for whom a new dawn signifies a small measure of hope. The final poem occurs in the recent past, at the beginning of the farmer’s illness. He is confined to his bed in front of a window, staring out at the land that he used to tend. A storm is brewing, and fields of corn bend as the winds strengthen. Crows fly overhead and the seasons seem to merge. However, he sees his grandson going about his work. The farmer’s resilience in the face of his illness mirrors society’s resilience in the face of climate change.

This series of poems received very high commendation in the main poetry competition of the 2011 National Eisteddfod in Wales, and was adjudged to be worthy of the prize. It was published in Barddas, the principal outlet of Welsh medium poetry. The themes discussed arise directly from the poet’s research interests in human-environment interactions and environmental change, and represents an innovative intervention in Welsh literature which has raised the profile of these themes to a wider, non-specialist audience.
Original languageWelsh
Number of pages4
Specialist publicationBarddas
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011

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