Caught by the River

Brighter Later

Brian David Stevens | 5th November 2013


by Brian David Stevens

13. Gwynedd

Brighter Later is a journey around Britain looking out to sea from each coastal county.

Gwynedd is a county and former kingdom in North Wales, a land of childhood holidays, of narrow gauge railways, of enforced hikes over Cader Idris, shove ha’penny in Barmouth arcades, packed lunches eaten from tupperware waiting for it to ‘clear up’, a place where the rain would penetrate the most waterproof Peter Storm cagoule.

It was also home to the poet R. S. Thomas who between 1967 to 1978 was the vicar at St Hywyn’s Church in Aberdaron at the western tip of the Llŷn Peninsula.

In 1975 he wrote this poem Sea Watching, which is why I’m here.

Sea Watching


as an area of prayer
that one enters. Daily
over a period of years
I have let my eye rest on them.
Was I waiting for something?
but that continuous waving
that is without meaning
Ah, but a rare bird is
rare. It is when one is not looking
at times one is not there
that it comes.
You must wear your eyes out
as others their knees.
I became the hermit
of the rocks, habited with the wind
and the mist. There were days,
so beautiful the emptiness
it might have filled,
its absence
was as its presence; not to be told
any more, so single my mind
after its long fast,
my watching from praying.

– R.S. Thomas
in Laboratories of the Spirit, 1975

The complete set of Brighter Later can be seen here