Saturday, April 20, 2019

John Doyle writes

Summer, County Wexford

Felt roofs, summer days,
balmy, traffic sounds; God’s lungs liquid blue.
Aerials like haddock's carcass receive pictures from Harlech, South Wexford;
The Evening Press says Colt Seavers will ruffle a fellow bounty hunter up the wrong way this evening, tune-in at 5:00.
Owain Glyndwr and the stinking Norsemen
prowl like alley cats across this Wexford roof. Leave the Celts and Nordic warriors at it, I want my 1980s trash.
File:William Blake, Visionary Head of Owen Glendower, 1819.jpg
Owain Glyndwr --William Blake


  1. County Wexford (Contae Loch Garman) in Leinster is in eastern Ireland, beside the Irish Sea. From 819 the area was frequently raided by vikings, who founded Waesfjord (inlet of the mudflats) ca. 800. This occupation transformed the poor, isolated region into one with considerable power and prestige with far-ranging international links. Though the Normands took the area in the 12th century, the "rents, services and customs of Oustmen" was still recorded at Rosslare in the south of the county, and it was regarded as a Norse hinterland as late as 1307.
    Colt Seavers was a stuntman/bounty hunter played by Lee Majors on the 1981-1986 TV series "The Fall Guy."
    Owain Glyndŵr was the last Tywysog Cymru (Prince of Wales) before the title was used to designate the heir to the British throne. In 1400 he led the Last War of Independence against Henry IV of England. He held court at Harlech in 1404 and summoned a Cynulliad ("gathering") at Machynlleth, which crowned him as the ruler of the Welsh. With Henry's rebellious cousin Edmund Mortimer and earl Henry Percy of Northumberland he negotiated an agreement to partition England and Wales between them, based on Welsh borders as defined by Merlinic literature, and he arranged an alliance with France, which sent troops into Worcestershire. But after the French withdrew in 1405 the English, under the future Hebry V, began to regain the advantage. They took Harlech in 1409, though Owain continued his revolt. He staged a successful ambush at Brycheiniog (Brecon) in 1412 but then disappeared. Adda o Frynbuga (Adam of Usk) claimed in his chronicle for 1415 that "Owain Glyndŵr died, and was buried by his followers in the darkness of night. His grave was discovered by his enemies, however, so he had to be re-buried, though it is impossible to discover where he was laid." In "Henry IV Part I" William Shakespeare's Owen Glendower described himself: "At my nativity / The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes, / Of burning cressets; and at my birth / The frame and huge foundation of the earth / Shaked like a coward... / ..all the courses of my life do show / I am not in the roll of common men."

  2. in 1818 William Blake met astrologer John Varley, who persuaded him to draw the spirits who appeared to him for their inclusion in Varley's "Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy." They would meet almost nightly at Varley's house from 9pm to 5am. In his 1880 "Life of William Blake" Alexander Gilchrist wrote, "Varley would say, 'Draw me Moses,' or David; or would call for a likeness of Julius Caesar, or Cassibellaunus, or Edward the Third, or some other great historical personage. Blake would answer, 'There he is!' and paper and pencil being at hand, he would begin drawing, with the utmost alacrity and composure, looking up from time to time as though he had a real sitter before him; ingenuous Varley, meanwhile, straining wistful eyes into vacancy and seeing nothing, though he tried hard, and at first expected his faith and patience to be rewarded by a genuine apparition. A 'vision' had a very different signification with Blake to that it had in literal Varley's mind. Sometimes Blake had to wait for the Vision's appearance; sometimes it would not come at call. At others, in the midst of his portrait, he would suddenly leave off, and, in his ordinary quiet tones and with the same matter-of-fact air another might say 'It rains,' would remark, 'I can't go on, -- it is gone! I must wait till it returns;' or, 'It has moved. The mouth is gone;' or, 'he frowns; he is displeased with my portrait of him:' which seemed as if the Vision were looking over the artist's shoulder as well as sitting vis-à-vis for his likeness. The devil himself would politely sit in a chair to Blake, and innocently disappear; which obliging conduct one would hardly have anticipated from the spirit of evil, with his well-known character for love of wanton mischief." Blake completed dozens of these portraits; 2 of the sketchbooks were discovered in 1967 and 1989, and a 3rd is known to have existed though it has disappeared. Other "Visionary Heads" exist on separate sheets of paper, perhaps indicating a 4th notebook. Some exist only in copies made by John Linnel, a painter who had introduced Blake to Varley.


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?