Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who has been published widely in Great Britain and in the USA in the San Pedro River Review, Clementine Unbound, Red River Review, Constellations and elsewhere. He has one chapbook, Merlin’s Lane (Prolebooks, 2011).
Stand in the Light, John
Stand in the light, John Templeton.
There were such heat and light, those
early years, debating days, the Union.
They called you a “firebrand” of course.
You mellowed to your niche, just
right of centre, glowing with
self-lauding adjectives. Practical,
progressive, pragmatic, robust.
But now our spotlight, gazing down
upon your life and works, will find
them mostly free from scars. Maybe
a glittering scratch or two of cruelty.
Stand in the light, John Morgan, and
remember how, in sixty-five, sixty-
six, in a West Wales folk club’s cellar,
you used to sing your talking blues,
your parodies, you sang self-written ballads
of Preseli hill country. And since that time
you’ve farmed sheep, for decades, you’ve
sung in television’s regions, you’ll
still play your local schools, communities
and halls. Stand in the light, John,
mount local history’s podium for
a moment. You tell me now, in the pub,
“Keep the faith, aye, keep the faith”.
Author’s Note: The two (fictional) characters in this poem are meant to represent two kinds of political radical, amongst the young people who emerged in Britain (and in Wales in particular) in the 1970s, fighting for the values and virtues of small rural communities. John Masters represents someone who moved to specific political action, in Parliament maybe, on councils, fighting for these communities through the business of debate, negotiation and compromise. John Morgan might be one who stayed within the community itself, celebrating the place, as it were, from the inside.