Illuminations: An Anthology of Welsh Short Prose

By Meic Stephens | Go to book overview

completely, and Pope John Paul II goes everywhere, and has even been to Wales. Millions all over the world have seen him in the flesh and received his blessing some of them on their birthdays, no doubt. But one thing remains certain in my mind: Pius XII wouldn't have liked the Popemobile.

Taliesin (61, Mawrth 1988)


On Memory

Gruffudd Parry

Peculiar things, remembering and forgetting. There's something comic about a schoolboy's face as he struggles to remember an answer to a question, his forehead creasing, his brows heavily knitted, and a faraway, pained expression in his eyes. Some also have the knack of pleating their mouths in order to emphasize the impression of a special mental effort. And you have to smile because you already know that the lad hasn't the slightest idea of what the answer is. Indeed, it's the surest of all signs that he doesn't know. Behind it all there lies a vacuum. There was nothing there to remember in the first place. And there's something very sad, too, about the face of an old person whose memory is failing; time has creased the forehead, old age made the brows heavy, and there's a look of bewildered innocence in the eyes. It's sad because you know full well that what's being sought is there somewhere, but that for the moment it's beyond recall. The experience of many years' living lies behind the eyes' innocence and the worries of a lifetime are all jumbled up with the memory. But those are two extremes.

It's probably one of the first signs that a man's beginning to fail when he starts recalling things. Almost unawares there will come a flash of memory like a phantom from among the spirits of things that happened long ago. Perhaps growing old means that these spirits put on flesh and become substantial things, until a man's interest in the passing of time has been changed and he looks back and lives with his memories instead of looking ahead and living with his dreams. At least at first, they are insubstantial things, that no one would dare

-198-

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