‘Barley’ (in memory of Dannie Abse) by Gillian Clarke
for Dannie Abse
September, and all the way home in the train
I watch the gold unfolding fields of corn
the colour of Morfudd’s hair, the land lit
with whisky ambers, ripeness bruised
with traces of a duller metal
where the wind ran, or a hare, or lovers have lain.
At the passing train, grief lifts from the land
on the wings of crows, and shadowless under the sun
the field where *Dafydd marries his girl again.
As long as language lives and the wind’s hand
fingers the harp-strings of a golden field,
someone half-dreaming in a train will listen
for remembered music of a line of verse,
and hear the barley whispering your words.
*Dafydd ap Gwylim, Medieval Welsh love poet.