Syllables For Change

The following poems are by the Welsh poet, Hywel Davies of Pembrokeshire. The poems are from the collection “Syllables For Change” (2008) Published by Pembrokeshire Mind. £5.00 plus P&P. To purchase make cheque for £6.00 payable to Pembrokeshire Mind and send to Pembrokeshire Mind, Old Wool Market on Quay Street in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire,



Contents: (click on title to read poem)
  • A Precious Lady
  • Bird In July
  • Good Afternoon, Dear Doctor
  •  When Trauma Comes
  • Sunday Mass
  • A Sunday Club
  • A Voluntary Might
  • Curlew At Sandy Haven
  • Dolphins and Whales
  • Nervous Breakdown
  • The Buttercup
  • Nightshift
  • If Moses Came to Surrey
  • Flowers
  • “Endgame” by Samuel Beckett
  • Summer’s Charm

    A Precious Lady

    One day I was awake
    And watching the TV
    When I heard of some-one
    Who meant a lot to me.

    She was a suffered breath.
    Saw angels in her day.
    They made her live in hope.
    Psychiatry did say :

    “We will take those angels
    From you and we as one
    Will conquer this illness
    With medication’s song.”

    This sound did make her sad.
    It made her end her salt.
    She took her life in hurt
    Yet she was special malt.

    Now resides with angels,
    Protected by God’s hand.
    God in grace aloves her
    And angels understand.

    May she smile in beauty
    And dance and sing,no pain.
    Was a precious lady
    Blessed by moon and rain.


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    Bird In July

    The sun ashines.
    The roses bloom.
    A garden’s joy
    And joy’s perfume.

    I hear in tune
    A bird in song.
    Do not tell me
    That she is wrong.

    For she is right.
    Her sound,my sight.
    A jewell’d means
    Of hope’s delight.

    Bird is happy.
    And so am I.
    May long her song
    Embrace the sky.

    May her glory,
    Though small she be,
    Accompany those
    Who walk unfree.


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    Good Afternoon, Dear Doctor

    Good afternoon,dear doctor.
    I’ve come to you in pain.
    My feelings and emotions
    Are driving me insane.

    The time is eight to five now.
    I’ll say this double-quick.
    I’m feeling quite precious and
    My stomach’s rather sick.

    I have,o holy doctor,
    A grand almighty fear.
    I know that we’ve lived before
    And now the time is near.

    For Judas,Cathar and James (1)
    Were once my former lives.
    My brain is like a bowl now.
    My voices are like knives.

    Dear doctor,holy doctor,
    I want to stay in bed.
    And close my eyes in silence
    And masquerade as dead.

    Listen, holy doctor,please.
    The time is five to five.
    Do you have a tablet,friend,
    To render health alive ?

    “Non,monsieur. Ce n’est pas possible.”

    (1)   :   Judas Iscariot, a Cathar (13th century French “heretic”), and James VI of Scotland / James I of England.

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     When Trauma Comes

    When trauma comes,
    There are no words.
    The voices come
    Like blackened birds.

    They flap and sing
    And squalk and lie.
    Spoil the treasures
    By which we fly.

    When trauma comes
    And hinders hope,
    One seeks in fear
    To live and cope.

    When trauma comes,
    There is no worse
    Fright or torment
    Or stifled curse.

    When trauma comes,
    There are no books.
    The voices come
    With evil looks.

    They flap and sing
    And squalk and lie.
    Spoil the vision
    By which we try.

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    Sunday Mass

    Though dumb be blind
    And deaf the cross,
    The spirit flies
    Time,space across.

    Joy tears a hymn
    That sings the space.
    Melody words
    A simple grace.

    Light kingdom shines
    Through morning glass.
    It kisses gifts
    Eat,drunk to last.

    See,sing di’monds
    And taste the joy.
    The pain of waste
    Is death’s decoy.

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    A Sunday Club

    Was in a Sunday Club
    I sitting with nine.
    Drinking Christmas coffee,
    Conversations’ rhyme.

    We talked of rugby Welsh,
    Football in our land,
    World War Two and Hitler,
    The good,bad,the band.

    Jimi Hendrix talent
    And Noddy Holder’s fame.
    Music is the pleasure
    Of life,love and name.

    “But we are not the round
    Shilling”,a friend said.
    “If it weren’t for Churchill,
    We would all be dead.”

    “Hitler killed the mental
    Patients in Germany.
    If it weren’t for Winston,
    We would not be free.”

    We tributed Churchill.
    He was proud and brave.
    A Sunday Club (Cymru)
    Consonants did save.

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    A Voluntary Might

    I know a lady who
    Once lost her job in vain
    For all because she had
    An emotional pain.

    Employer said to her,
    “I do not want your skill
    For you have needed,fool,
    A psychiatric pill.”

    Informed by spiteful breast,
    The boss knew of her plight
    And now the lady is
    A voluntary might.

    She helps a week-day shop
    That sells to age and poor.
    A suffered,vowelled skin.
    A sky. A sea. A door.

    She helps a Sunday Club
    And tears are in her eyes.
    Is it any wonder
    She prays to God The Wise ?

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    Curlew At Sandy Haven

    When you stroll near water
    In this west of space,
    You may hear curlew sing.
    Leaf and air embrace.

    Beside the salting mood
    Trees agreen with sound.
    An unseen feather sings.
    Defies Mammon’s pound.

    Her tune transcends neglect.
    Spires atoms’ joy.
    Acomforts resting boat.
    Moulds each man a boy.

    Soundlings amidst ancient
    Still and valley sand
    Tributing in nature
    Celtic plight ungrand.

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    Dolphins and Whales

    I hear on tape beneath the sea
    Of dolphins,whales. Of souls they be.
    A magic grace,a water’s tide
    Embrace their charm,sweet liquid pride.

    I hear in home beneath the sea
    A gift,a world,an ink to me.
    As babies scream in search of word,
    So dolphins play. Life’s not absurd.

    I hear in awe beneath the sea
    Of whales profound in giantry.
    The foolish vowels greed and men
    Impose on God sweet time again.

    I hear in salt beneath the sea
    A beauty to transfigure free
    All who hurt and fear in vain
    The deathing shadow of life’s gain.

    I hear,I feel beneath the sea
    The anguished hurt whose skin is thee.
    O do not be afraid,dear friend,
    For God is good and love,the end.

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    Nervous Breakdown

    A stranger asked me how I am
    And I replied in vain :
    “I do not know,sir,how I am.
    My heart is one of pain.”

    A stranger asked me who I am
    And I replied in dust :
    “I do not know,sir,who I am.
    My mind : neglected rust.”

    A stranger asked me when I am
    And I replied in black :
    “I do not know,sir,when I am
    For voices me attack.”

    A stranger asked me where I am
    And I replied in doubt :
    “I do not know,sir,where I am
    For I am inside out.”

    A stranger asked me what I am
    And I replied at night :
    “I do not know,sir,what I am
    For I have lost my sight.”

    A stranger asked me if I am
    And emptiness replied :
    “I do not know,sir,if I am.
    My flesh and blood are hide.”

    A stranger asked my why I am
    And I replied in word :
    I only know,sir,why I am.
    I am a crippled bird.”

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    The Buttercup

    Once I saw a buttercup
    Beside an ancient plough.
    I went to that buttercup
    But all she said was “How” !

    “Would you like to dance with me,
    Sweet buttercup of rhyme ?
    I have the inclination
    But do you have the time ?”

    “Of course Mr. Butterfly.
    The colours that you wear
    Show to me in person that
    You really do sweet care.”

    We danced beneath the sunlight
    And happiness was ours.
    We kissed beneath a petal
    Surrounded by ten flowers.

    The sun smiled in a silence.
    The heat was warm and hot.
    In Cymru we met and danced.
    All madness is not grott.

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    Night Shift

    Work a psychiatric
    Hospital in Wales.
    Nurse I am by nature.
    My ward is one of males.

    Three think they are Jesus
    On this ward of mine.
    Like to know them better
    If I had the time.

    Paperwork is mighty.
    Papers multiply.
    Jesus Christ,I’m hungry.
    Like to eat then cry.

    Jesus John is happy.
    Talking to the moon.
    Jesus Dai is sleeping.
    Injections : a boon.

    Jesus Bill and coffee
    Writing poetry.
    Jesus Bill once told me :
    “Best friend is a tree.”

    O God,it’s half past two.
    Shift does end at eight.
    Jesus John,Jesus Bill,
    Whispering. It’s late.

    Black outside this office
    Is ominous still.
    If it becomes awesome,
    I will take a pill.

    Jesus,before I die,
    Like to meet the Pope.
    Tell him of Jesuses
    Who preach,pray and hope.

    Forty million Jesus.
    One of them is right.
    Wonder if I know him.
    If he’ll fly my kite.

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    If Moses Came To Surrey

    If Moses came to Surrey,
    In car or minibus,
    I would not make a sandwich.
    Food would not see the fuss.

    Yes,Moses was a nutter.
    Had speech impediment.
    He had a mental illness.
    Beards are not born in Kent.

    Yes,Joan of Arc used to eat
    In Rouen and in Rennes.
    No,she was not one of us.
    She was a French-laid hen.

    I like to shop on Sundays
    With an upper class mind.
    Am careful to whom I talk.
    All snobbery is kind.

    Yes,Jesus was a looney.
    Mohammed too,it’s said.
    Voice hearing is an illness
    To annoy the undead.

    Am sorry for all nutters.
    Voice hearing is a sin.
    The Golf Club offers comfort
    To all in pain within.

    If Moses came to Surrey
    In a prompt bourgeois train,
    Psychiatry would declare
    Him unhappy (insane).

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    There was a lady who
    Once told psychiatry
    The root of her problem
    In terms of history.

    “I was raped by Father.
    The Father of my womb.
    I walk a living death
    And live a living room.”

    “Rubbish”,said the doctor
    Of great psychiatry.
    “Your brain is a victim
    Of biochemistry.”

    “The voice that you hear,
    The visions that you see
    Are hallucinations.
    I know for I am me.”

    “Bollocks”,thought the lady
    In her angelic mind.
    “If only progress were
    Benevolent and kind.”

    “If you spread manure
    On some neglected field,
    The grass will be fertile
    And flowers be revealed.

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    “Endgame” by Samuel Beckett

    If science has a will,let it see this play.
    Words by Samuel Beckett. Love in time’s decay.
    Let science then regard sound upon a stage,
    Sensitized and sacred in the modern age.

    Emptiness of reason,atoms’,neutrons’ gun
    Shoot a laughing bullet ‘neath a blackened sun.
    Squalor of the setting,humour of the void
    Mask a wretched science in cleverness deployed.

    Through the crippled vowel,Beckett ploughs and writes
    Love in spite of anguish of verbal flickered lights.
    Beckett was a painter. Love and faith he wrote.
    Voyageur of passion. Hell’s neglected goat.

    Science has no meaning,no structured god intent.
    It counts the molecules,discounts experience spent.
    May Beckett so remain beam of spirits’ charm.
    He never wished his pen to write and cause life harm.

    Smile to him in glory. Picasso of the word.
    Twentieth century Shakespeare of the sanes’ absurd.
    O science,touch his sound,consequence of doubt.
    Of hope and courage,love,his silences me shout.

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    Summer’s Charm

    I lie on back
    In heat and sun.
    On green I rest
    In field and fun.

    Small insects fly
    In nature’s way.
    I sense,I feel
    No time’s decay.

    I feel a calm
    Beneath clouds still.
    I need not man
    Nor tranquil pill.

    My eyes are close.
    I sense a light.
    The yellow calm
    That knows not fright.

    And when I wake
    Away from hurt,
    May summer’s charm
    Wash clean life’s dirt.

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