It feels nearer the sun up here.
The stony track struggled up
through dark of trees towards
a growing disc of light, which swelled, broke
into majestic brightness.
Now the path levels, the valley opens.
Across the river one farm spreads yard and barns
in shadow against light. Above it rises
bare mountain, a final wall that flanks
the upper valley, curves round its distant head,
in a strange visual accord
with the valley-floor’s sharp green
of re-seeded garths, proclaiming
work, settlement, fertility.
Alongside a fence that dwindles
towards the far-off valley-head, unseen
high passes, into barren distance
runs a green road. On it, down
from hidden solitudes, a dark dot
gleams and grows, zooms into a phalanx
of mountain-bikers, black-clad, impassive,
hissing dizzily past. Unmoved,
a fat ewe suckles her twins
under a track-side thorn.
In this domain of sun,
so all-encompassing, so royal,
only the traitor mind creates
in the shiver of sun on skin
a shudder of ice-wind, subverts
with a sly imagining of snow.
by Ruth Bidgood
UPDATE! Matthew Jarvis, author of the book Ruth Bidgood mentioned below, has written a blog post in response to ‘Treachery’, giving some very valuable context about the setting for the poem. You can read it here, and find out more about Matthew’s book here.
Notes from Cinnamon Press:
In Above the Forests, perspectives of ordinary life, rendered with this poet’s effortlessly questing precision, serve as means of further discovery. Her writing has always shown ‘how different is real/from ordinary’. As she says, ‘to feel bounded is our only way of being with things, because we have fewer dimensions than actually exist…but we can feel the boundary sometimes being transcended.’ In these poems, the lie of Welsh land, local and family history, social pressures, the promptings of dream and of scientific speculation are all evoked, serving to draw the reader, often literally step by step, into processes of questioning, self-questioning and an intuitive crossing of boundaries. (Anne Cluysenaar.)
Ruth Bidgood was born of a North Welsh father and a West Country mother in Seven Sisters, Glamorgan. Educated in Port Talbot and at Oxford University in the 60s, she later returned to Wales and settled in Powys. Her second collection received a Welsh Arts Council award; the sixth and seventh were shortlisted for the Welsh Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 1993 and 1997 and Time Being was a Poetry Society Recommendation and won the Roland Matthias Prize for 2010. Above the Forests was launched to mark Ruth’s 90th birthday in conjunction with a critical appraisal of her work by Matthew Jarvis: Ruth Bidgood (University of Wales Press, 2012).
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