I wait in the evening air.
Sea-birds drop down to the sea.
I prepare to sail from where
the docks’ derelictions are.
I stand on the deck and stare,
slack hammocks of waves below,
while black shapes upon the pier
make the furthest star seem near.
Now the funnel’s negations blow
and my eyes, like spaces, fill,
and the knots of water flow,
pump to my eyes and spill.
For what who would choose to go
when who sailing made no choice?
Not for one second, I know,
can I be the same man twice.
The straw coloured flames flare still,
spokes over the long horizon,
and the boats under the hill
of Penarth, unload and move on.
by Dannie Abse
from Tenants of the House (1957)
Fun facts: This was written in 1957 and the former working docks, which by the time of the poem were ‘derelict’ and I myself recall in childhood walking through along the barrage, were redeveloped (‘gentrified’ wouldn’t be an understatement) in recent years into the Cardiff Bay area filled with bars, restaurants, the Wales Millennium Centre, the Senedd and BBC buildings amongst many other developments. Penarth is an affluent town, within walking distance along the coastline, south west of Cardiff .