Here is silence; elwch, tawelwch, ddistawrwydd.
Here, the quiet is a stifled cry of uncaredforness,
these broken walls have nothing to offer, but doom.
The builder of this simple home has long since gone.
Glad to leave, and live? Relieved to be deaf and blind in death?
His pitiable labours and earnest prayers count for nothing now.
Slowly, jealous ivy and brambles drag down; a creeping elwch.
Skyward-pointing spars reach up in one last stopped appeal,
like a cursed boat going down in the sea; a far ddistawrwydd.
Sagged hinges have become rib bones on the door’s rotten body,
yet there they still hang; crucified to the stoic jamb’s resilience.
Here no-one knocks. The spent ghosts wait in tawelwych.
The stubborn, smoke-haunted chimney stack alone refuses;
its close thick stones resist, hold back the quiet siege of gravity,
like some perished castle keep, still defiant in its crumbling dust.
Rain, frost, warping heat of Summer all proved their reckoning.
The shelling slates, ill-stacked in overlapped-domino slippage,
return to their strata of naturalness, wanting the noise of nails.
Two unblinking windows stare both out and in; a morose watch.
They neither widen in delight, nor narrow down in any fear.
No landlord comes, no cart, no courting youth, no preacher.
The flagged floor is a weedy graveyard wreathed in nettles.
Spear thistles and batterdock the only herbs gardened here.
Just an echoing disturbed silence; ddistawrwydd, tawelwch, elwch.
(elwch, tawelwych, ddistawrwydd – are all Welsh words for ‘silence’)
BWTHYN (Cottage) by F. Philip Holland was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2021) judged by Mary Anne Smith Sellen.