Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Hwyl Fawr

One year ago today, my father Bruce Woodland - the best and bravest man I ever knew - died of a cancer at the age of 66, in his own home on Anglesey. That was on just such an ice-clear day as this. The last talk I had with him, the garden was full of bright finches chattering. He could not sit up to see them, so I described them to him as we sat, and he told me what each of them was.

I remember...

I couldn't write much about this for a good while. There is a little girl in the North who called him 'Grandad', and his death hit her hard. One day I found myself thinking about how I might answer her questions about what it meant. I don't really know the answers any better than the next man, so when the words came to me, they were pretty well all the answers I was going to get, too.

Hwyl Fawr

He has gone and left us standing on the white shores of the morning.
He is gone to sail our dreams upon the starry tides of night,
And the ebb that took his boat up left us little grace or warning,
But our love is undiminished, and he steers us still aright.
Peerless captain, spark-eyed seer; golden lover, steely friend;
Brother, son, great sire and grandsire – he is gone: he cannot end
While he still has ways to pilot, while he still has storms to stand,
While our eyes lend him a crow’s-nest, while his light still burns on land.
He is sped – but not past calling. He is taken – but unbound.
If our tears would float him back again, this dusty world were drowned
With sorrow; but they will not, and he would not have it so,
As we hear his laughter roaring in the sea-shells, and – we know!
He is gone ahead to scout us out the crimson shades of evening.
He has gone to walk our worlds, and left us living in the light.

Goodbye again, Dad. See you tomorrow, as always.

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