… yn y bwlch rhwng bomiau
… in the break between bombs

Though they have not, in the break between bombs,
the decency of a wooden coat,
nor a stone, finely carved,
nor eulogy, nor hymn, nor flowers,
nor tea, nor chat, nor friends
raising a glass, raising a smile,
each one bears,
wherever they may be,
the weight of soil
and tears.


Er na chawsant, yn y bwlch rhwng bomiau,
barchusrwydd y bais bren,
na chwaith garreg a rhifau’n gain,
na marwnad, nag emyn, na blodau,
na the, na sgwrs, na ffrindiau
yn codi peint a mynd i hwyl,
mae ar bob un,
ble bynnag mae,
bwys o bridd
a dagrau.


©Sian Northey, reproduced with the author’s permission
English adaptation ©Susan Walton 2023


The images of a light garment of wood – pais bren – and weight of soil – pwys o bridd – are taken from the fourteenth-century lament for a woman called Lleucu Llwyd by court poet Llywelyn Goch ap Meurig Hen: Marwnad Lleucu Llwyd.


Image by Jan Tancar on Pexels.

When all the ice melts

Pan fydd yr holl iâ’n toddi, bydd y môr yn cyrraedd fan hyn
When all the ice melts, the sea will be up to here

when all the ice melts …

When all the ice on earth melts, the average level of the sea will be around 200 feet higher than it is now.

It will take thousands of years for the sea to deepen by 200 feet (which it will if the Earth’s temperature continues to increase). About five thousand years seems to be the timescale.

Five thousand years, you say? Way too big a stretch of time to think about. But there were people like you and me living five thousand years ago, with writing and money and organised religion and civil engineering and agriculture and  beautiful art.

Think of a 200-foot depth of water inching its way upward, slowly, relentlessly deepening field drains and great rivers alike. I live beside the sea, and this is what I’ve been thinking about recently. Indeed, I live next to a large swathe of low-lying land that was sea until around two hundred years ago, until the Cob was built at Porthmadog.

Notice about potential flooding.

This public notice from Natural Resources Wales is attached to the ‘dorau mawr’ (the flood gates) at Porthmadog as part of a public consultation on the flood risk management of the area. The dark blue on the map shows a modelled 50% chance of flooding in any given year; the mid-blue, a 33.3% chance; the pale blue, a 1% chance.

cofiwch cantre’r gwaelod

In 2019 the Extinction Rebellion Cymru banner at the head of this post was positioned on the Cob. In the Welsh language ‘Cofiwch’ is the command ‘Remember’. Remember the  submerged land of Cantre’r Gwaelod, which, according to legend, is now under the waters of Cardigan Bay. The earliest version of this story is in the Medieval Black Book of Carmarthen – Cantre’r Gwaelod is a vivid and deep part of the Welsh psyche.

My project

In autumn 2021, I started cycling and walking (and occasionally bussing it) to points near me where roads and public rights of way cross the 200-foot contour, and pinning up a Post-it note saying:

Pan fydd yr holl iâ’n toddi, bydd y môr yn cyrraedd fan hyn.
When all the ice melts, the sea will be up to here.

It is the thing I have been mostly writing lately. Over and over. Here is a map showing locations where this message has been placed, September 2021–April 2023.

Map with sticky dots.

These Post-it notes won’t last, but I’m fixing their positions by photographing them. As of April 2024, the only surviving Post-it that I know of was placed in March 2022. Its message has long since faded away.

the photos

Every Post-it note I’ve placed has been photographed in situ. The longest river where I’ve left messages along its catchment is Afon Glaslyn, which rises on Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). The most inland point where the 200-foot contour of its catchment intersects with a point of public access is at the A498 road, here –

Trees, road, car, lay-by, traffic cones, verge and telephone pole with Post-it note attached.

in Nantgwynant – near the start of the Watkin Path up Yr Wyddfa. That’s a long way inland.

All the photos can be seen by clicking on the links below. They are grouped by the watercourse that will grow deeper with the rising sea level. The list is arranged west to east, with the longer rivers  divided into sections.

In each of the photos there’s a Post-it note pinned to something, saying the same thing:

Pan fydd yr holl iâ’n toddi, bydd y môr yn cyrraedd fan hyn.

When all the ice melts, the sea will be up to here.

other art prompted by rising sea level

It turns out the same impetus that sends me out with Post-it notes and drawing pins has stimulated other pieces of art – on much grander scales. There is this one and this one, both in Scotland, so I guess I should also say:

Nuair a leagh an deigh uile, bidh uisge na mara suas chun na h-àirde seo.

And there is also this one, The (Future) Wales Coast Path, which took place in Newport and Magor in South Wales throughout 2022.

Welsh environmental artist Tim Pugh created this piece

Collage of images to do with sea rise at Rhyl.

as a response to potential future flooding in Rhyl in North Wales. A rise in sea level would affect over 500 properties in the area. This work was included in the National Library of Wales’ 2023–24 exhibition Cyfoes: Contemporary Welsh Art.

useful information

This is a useful interactive map to look at the result of different heights of sea level rise. For +200 feet, use a rise of 61 metres.

As at March 2022, both the Arctic and Antarctic are vastly warmer than they should be for the time of year, and in the Antarctic the 1,200 square kilometre Conger ice shelf has collapsed.

New research, published in April 2023, shows that ice sheets are capable of retreating in bursts of up to 600 metres per day. In June 2023 it was reported that it is probably now too late to save summer Arctic sea ice.

This  series of short BBC podcasts explores different tipping points in climate change, including in relation to the Arctic, the Antarctic, and ocean circulation.


All words and all images in this post and in pages linked internally ©Susan Walton 2021–24, except for the photo of the work of art Sunny Rhyl ©Tim Pugh 2023.

16.15 Saturday 13 February 2021

. . . sparks of bantz through the muffle of a mask

16.15 Saturday 13 February 2021

You should be in your place by now – in the corner, by the bar,
taking a sip from the head of a newly settled pint as
the pub fills with the warmth of red.
There should be laughter and leg-pulling
and getting in another pint and
shouting at the ref.

Today, will you be wearing your lucky red Timberland top?
What’s the point …?
I know there’ll be no pint – too early in the day.
No shouting ’til you’re hoarse, no singing,
just a solo groan, the odd expletive lobbed at the radio
and a contented poke of the fire if they win.

Nevertheless, you tend your little flame
with sparks of bantz through the muffle of a mask.
You store up kindling for stories and jokes,
you read the back pages, you’re up to speed.
You’re just waiting to join with all the little flames,
from all the little houses,
to make a blaze on a cold afternoon.

Saturday 13 February 2021 was the day of a rugby Six Nations match between Scotland and Wales. This poem was conceived before the final score was known.

Saturday 13 February 2021 was also the end of week 8 of the third lockdown in Wales because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Obviously, at the time of writing, the final score of that battle is unknown as well.

Photo ©Margaret Walton 2015. Words ©Susan Walton 2021.

Friars, Glynllifon and the Halfway

A flickering of sunlight …

Friars, Glynllifon and the Halfway

The past is a foreign country
So they say.
A flickering of sunlight on the other side of the Strait,
where the grass was greener, the scene was cooler,
and the lads more knowing.

Flying back from the past – do I need to quarantine?
Will the symptoms pass?
Or persist?
I take my place in the queue.
Will I be next?


This poem was prompted by the death of a man the same age as me whom I hadn’t seen for thirty-five years. As is the way when you’re a teenager, I knew who he was from afar, but I didn’t really know him.

Written in August 2020, the constraints and consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic have been uppermost in my thoughts for months.

The photo is of Wil Jones ©Gary Stubbs 1980, used with permission.
Words ©Susan Walton 2020.

Tŷ Newydd haikus

chill spring whispering
and warmed spirits flourishing –
back to the real world

gwanwyn yn sibrwd
ac awenau ni’n symud –
’nôl i’r byd go iawn

In March 2020 I was on a course at Tŷ Newydd as part of being mentored as an emerging literary translator. In the conservatory there is a corkboard where people are invited to offer their reaction to the place, or the course they’re attending, in the form of a haiku or a piece of flash fiction. These are the poems I pinned up.

A typical haiku is a three-line observation about a fleeting moment, following the form and style of the Japanese haiku. Traditional haiku often consist of 17 elements, interpreted as ‘syllables’ in a pattern of 5–7–5, and often involving nature by way of a seasonal reference. 

The essence of haiku is ‘cutting’, often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a ‘cutting word’ – a kind of verbal punctuation mark. I’ve used dashes to indicate the cut instead

You can read more about my year of being mentored on my other blog, Saesneg Sue .

Image and words ©Susan Walton 2020.

December 1282

… the heavens abort the stars

December 1282

Today (11 December) is the anniversary of the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last viable Prince of Wales.
Yesterday we had a violent storm. Tomorrow we have a potentially cataclysmic political event in the UK: a general election.

How was it that day?
Was it like yesterday:
driving rain, trees slashing, that brook flooding?
Were you soaked through as you fell in the mud?
Did rain soak your skin as much as the blood?

Or was the day sparkling bright, cold and calm,
each emerging star like a pinprick?
As you realised your fate, did you glance
from the corner of your eye and note
a startled wren fleeing for cover?

You, too, were contrived into battle
at the bitterest time of year.
Betrayed too, perhaps, by your allies;
and afterwards the sea would reclaim the land,
the heavens abort the stars,
and we would be left to linger.

The last three lines of my poem sample Llywelyn’s elegy, by court poet Gruffydd ab yr Ynad Coch. In that original lament the lines – in old Welsh – are:

Pony welwch chwi’r syr wedyr syrthiaw?

Och yt attat ti Duw na daw mor tros dir!
Pas beth yn gedir y ohiriaw?

which roughly translate as: See you not the fallen stars? … Why, God, does the sea not come over the land! / Why are we left to linger?

The image is the UK Met Office rainfall radar for 15.45 GMT – at about dusk – on 10 December 2019. Words ©Susan Walton 2019.

untitled haikus

small full point looms large
large white circle harvest moon
lingers unnoticed

atalnod llawn llwm
lloer llawn gynhaeaf ni byth
dy weld ti’n iawn

During September’s full moon I was at the Society for Editors and Proofreaders’ annual conference in the middle of brightly street-lit Birmingham. Two colleagues who produce The Editing Podcast set a haiku-writing competition for delegates. These were my efforts. They are my first attempts at haiku. The Welsh version is not a translation of the English, but it conveys the same idea.

Image by Bo Hansen, used with permission. Words ©Susan Walton 2019.

Dig deeper

after Samira Negrouche

Seduced to a new place
which distorted vision
and altered behaviour.

Go back into the past,
examine what’s under the scab.

Return, do it again,
dig deeper.

Don’t say,
turn things over in

There’s no hurrah because
you’re inside the
at the right time
movement starts
in unity.


This poem was inspired by ‘À cent quatre vingt degrés’ by Algerian poet Samira Negrouche. In working on that poem I heard resonances of Wales, a nation regarded by many as being under English and then British colonial rule since the 1500s. The recent spread of Cofiwch Dryweryn graffiti throughout Wales runs alongside the growing call for independence. If you wish to read more about Cofiwch Dryweryn, this book is an excellent place to start.

Image and words ©Susan Walton 2019.

One hundred and eighty degrees

… glissement de langage …
… language slips …

One hundred and eighty degrees


Succumbing to the west
those rails carry you
beyond the hour of meeting
of arrival

You timeshift to a place of remembrance
where actions become metaphor
and your language slips to

And through waiting eyes
you rediscover the mountain
you look out from the Tessala       place
vision dizzying


You discourse with the past
with what remains to be healed
of the mutilated oak

Hobbled movements
stuttering actions polish
its surface
to live

Fingers’ ridges
caress each wound
slowdive into


The sun’s last resting place
in the shadow of the wall
sees its morning appointment

Obsessively go back to the source
“worrying the carcase of an old song”
for what’s to come

Those same fingers
that claw their way
the rails that hurtle towards
the cornered earth
the line of fire
the wait that is too long


You neither cry nor cry out
you’re disciplined
doubt re-emerges


You don’t celebrate
that which happens
that which is coming
at the hour of destiny
it’s one hundred and eighty degrees
worked at together.


À cent quatre vingt degrés


Succomber à l’appel de l’ouest
à ces rails qui te portent
débordent l’heure
de la rencontre

Tu arrives dans le lieu du souvenir
où l’acte devient métaphore
glissement de langage

Par les yeux qui t’ont attendu
redécouvrir la montagne
par de-là le Tessala      point
de vue détourné


Tu parles au passé
de ce qu’il reste à colmater
sur le chêne que l’on maltraite

Gestes ancrés répétés
balbutiements de notes crochetées
sur la surface à polir
à vivre

Centres digitaux –
tu articules chaque courbure
et plonges lentement
dans la mémoire
qui ne se raccommode pas


À l’ombre du mur
dernière demeure du soleil
rendez-vous matinal

Poursuite      rituel
de l’histoire à venir
de la matrice retournée

Ce sont ces mêmes doigts
qui étreignent le chemin
les rails qui s’enflamment
le carré de terre
l’angle de tir
l’attente époumonée


Tu ne dis pas
l’ordre des choses
la résurgence du doute


Tu ne célèbres pas
ce qui passe
ce qui vient
tu entres dans le silence
à heure nommée
c’est à cent quatre vingt degrés
que tu te conjugues.

Sidi Bel Abbès – Alger, le 8 février 2010 In « Six arbres de fortune autour de ma baignoire »

Original poem, ‘À cent quatre vingt degrés’, ©Samira Negrouche 2010, reproduced with the author’s permission
English adaptation ©Susan Walton 2019

In advance of International Translation Day, which is 30 September, Wales Literature Exchange, Literature Across Frontiers and Wales PEN Cymru held a public talk in Aberystwyth by Syrian-Kurdish poet and translator Golan Haji and the Francophone Algerian writer and poet Samira Negrouche. I attended, and worked on this poem with Samira and tutor Zoë Skoulding in the translation workshop that followed the talk. 

The quote within my version is from ‘Welsh Landscape’ by R. S. Thomas; you can hear R. S. himself reading ‘Welsh Landscape’ here.

Samira’s explanation of the idea behind ‘One hundred and eighty degrees’ sparked this, another ‘poem after poem’ like the ones I’d written on the Tŷ Newydd course.

Image by Jori Samonen from Pixabay.

The Strike

Ffarwél i’r llwch ac i’r llechi …
Farewell to the dust and the rockface …

The Strike

There’s danger ’tween Padarn and Peris,
Y Gilfach is misted in sleet,
the men in the caban complain that
their children have nothing to eat.
“It’s time for us to down tools, lads,
and challenge the taskmaster’s rules!”

Farewell to the dust and the rockface,
farewell to the slate-cutting knife,
farewell to the foundry and smithy,
the noise and machinery and strife –
“Our union it stands strong and sure,
in our house we’ll shelter no bradwr!”

In Pencarnisiog the strike starts to bite;
when my husband hasn’t even a crust,
it’s back to the quarry he creeps, then,
before the big wheel starts to rust.
“Some day we’ll be rid of your slate dust,
some day that old Hwch will be flushed!”


Y Streic

Mae’n beryg rhwng Padarn a Pheris,
mae’n aeaf y Gilfach Ddu,
Mae’r hogia’n cwyno’n y caban
a’r gegin yn wag yn y ty:
“Mae’n bryd i ni roi’n harfau i lawr,
a herio’r mistar yn y plasdy mawr!”

Ffarwél i’r llwch ac i’r llechi,
ffarwél i’r hen gyllell fach,
Ffarwél i’r ffowndri a’r efail
a’r holl beiriannau a’u strach –
“Mae’n hundeb ni yn ddigon cry’,
ac ni fydd bradwr yn y ty!”

Ond mae’n gafael ym Mhencarnisiog
a’r un geiniog ym mhoced y gwr,
mae’n llusgo yn ôl am y chwarel
cyn bod rhwd ar yr olwyn ddwr:
“rhyw ddydd cawn wared ar dy lwch
a rhydd fydd cân yr hen afon Hwch!”

English adaptation ©Susan Walton 2019
The poem was written in 2005 by schoolchildren from years 3, 4, 5, and 6 at Ysgol Pencarnisiog with the help of poets Gwyneth Glyn and Iwan Llwyd. I came across the original poem on a BBC Cymru web page, which is no longer available, about the National Slate Museum at Llanberis.

While at college, the artist Anya Wigdel-Bowcott used the poem in a piece she produced as part of a project on Penrhyn Castle. Penrhyn Castle was the home of the owner of the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in Bethesda, scene in 1900–03 of one of the bitterest and, at the time, longest lock-outs in Britain. Striking quarrymen would place a card in their window saying Nid oes BRADWR yn y tŷ hwn (There is no TRAITOR in this house.)

Anya says: ‘With this piece, I firstly created an outline of a mountain using ink and then wrote the poem … over and over again to resemble the veins of a piece of slate.’ The photograph used on this page is by Anya, and you can see more photographs of this piece here .