A long metal tongue

rattles in the lock-gate’s throat,

is rewarded by a gush, then a rush,

and his twin then winds his reply;

two giants lazily loll

on ancient hinges,

and then obediently part

before a narrow boat’s nose.


This water

marks the border of my past

– over one of these bridges,

a droving century and more ago,

John Evans crossed from another time,

led his ponies, down from the mountain,

and onwards to distant Barnet fair;

the first from our family

who took Welsh to the city…


But he returned,

as I do today,

re-crossed this industrial Jordan,

pausing perhaps, to eye a muscular cob

waiting for its boat, with its load of lime

to be exalted by water


the gates swing open again

-and our history flows once more…


Ifor ap Glyn
Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru | National Poet of Wales

(This is a poem by National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn, written to read on Great Canal Journeys (Channel 4) when presenters Timothy West and Prunella Scales visited the Talybont on Usk area. Some of Ifor ap Glyn’s ancestors lived nearby and worked as drovers, crossing the canal with animals.)

Back to Ifor ap Glyn: National Poet of Wales 2016 – 2022