Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

I write to you from Wales, my last address,
confirmed now in the idleness
which age and fortune here have brought me to:
not quite the expected end, though you
guessed long ago what kind of end it would be.
My second autumn, and the dark sea
howls on the rocky headland, drowns in spray
the cottages along the bay.
Hoarse, inarticulate, its wintry sighs
are caught up by the wind and rise
anarchic round the house, my bleak domain.
As I look out, I see the rain
come swirling over the roofs; the black slates shine.
We’ve had the best of the weather. Brine-
stink, weed-rack, boats laid up: another year
is dying. What was it brought me here
you ask? This house? That stand of holly and oak
through which my chimney’s blue-grey smoke
ravels and skirrs? These mountains? These blank bays?
Endlessly the salt wind frays
at the field’s edge where gorse and ragged thorn
crouch among rocks, endless the yawn-
ing waters, the wild gulls crying at the land’s end.
(What is the doom these things attend
now, as at the unshuttering of time?)
Often at evening I will climb
steep Gwyddel’s back to stand upon that height
and watch the tide-race roaring white
between the darkening island and the shore.
” Was it this I came here for,
the moon’s power and the wind’s made manifest
in tide-rip, in wave-crest?