Extract from the Treasury of Modern Poets - 1980

MY RIVAL THE TOWY VALLEY
(To Ron with my love)

BY JOAN STEPHENS

Dull and leaden, overcast
Chilling wind with icy blast
Mountains to the heavens soar
Creeping firs on every tor
And from these grim and barren hills
Water to the valley spills

On the skyline, gaunt and bare
Bent of back with greying hair
Pitting wits with elements
Wars with life His soul invents
Solitary man I see
Thank you God it is not me

Then as evening hours approach
Darkness will the vale encroach
Spreading forth it's clammy cloak
Weird and garish dreams evoke
Till sleep refreshed with eyes anew
Along the valley now I view

Golden fronds, green rolling lands
Gone the grim and grasping hands
Towy has its life regained
Gone the face so worn and strained
And as the sun the darkness clears
Pistylls change to golden spears

Feathered friends on gleaming wing
To this vale a love song sing
Shining orb on every pool
Warms the waters, once so cool
Touches dew drops newly born
Heralding the joy of dawn

And as a woman, bathed in love
Caressed and kissed, the sun above
Enfolds her soul so willingly
And now her beauty I can see
And know I must not close the door
On memories she hold in store

So here beside me calm and still
The man I love can dream his fill
Remembering a bygone youth
Ere he was old and long in tooth
The days when first he blithley chased
Alone across these barren wastes

But now with bones that ache and creak
Spirit willing, flesh is weak
No more he treads the stoney track
With haversack upon his back
But sits in comfort chauffeured hence
Affronted by the tourists dense
And jealous of the men that stride
On hallowed land beheld in pride

The only thing that stays the same
Is Towy beauty, Towy name
So as I pause with beating breast
Appreciative but not obsessed
I acquiesce with tongue in cheek
When of her virtues he will speak
And stand reverence patiently
For she is not alive like me

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