The Secret Pages: Capel Siloam

The spring of Siloam, whose water washed
the spittle-mud that Jesus used for sight,
sprang out again on Beach Road, Barmouth,

as the non-conformists remade the Land of Promise,
each band – Presbyterians, Congregationalists,
Calvinistic Methodists – building their own Zion.

In manhood I take the steps, the welcome,
the hymnbook, the recognition as your son,
and shuffle into a waist-high pew-pen.

My harp hangs with those of the shrinking remnant,
all stranded on the high tide line by faith’s
melancholy roar, the flood long decades past.

September holidays went on outside;
the eulogy rehearsed your methodical maintenance
of Zion, probing a basement beam for rot.

We followed you to Llanaber. Left you there
and went to Christ Church’s school room where
the ladies of the church provided tea.


Capel Siloam. Siloam Chapel. Siloam: John 9:1-7 and the hymn ‘By cool Siloam’s shady rill …’ Harps: Psalm 137:1-4. Melancholy roar: Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach: ‘The Sea of Faith/ Was once, too, at the full … but now I only hear/ Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar/ Retreating to the breath/ Of the night wind …’