Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Village


Portmeirion is one of my favourite places and that is mostly attributable to the mystery afforded to it by The Prisoner television series. Entering The Village transports me to a world of inspiration and calmness. It feels detached from reality, like the everyday trials of life are suspended when I’m there.

This is a poem, a Villanelle, based on Portmeirion that I wrote following my last visit there in 2009:

Wonder, colour, adventure all around.
Chess board floor, stone boat, mermaids, The Green Dome.
Forgotten out of season; pale and still.

Cross legged in majesty; calm and regal.
“Where am I?” silently shouts from shadows.
Wonder, colour, adventure all around.

Soft light dances and skips across water.
Striped umbrellas hide an evil intent.
Chess board floor, stone boat, mermaids, The Green Dome.

Rover creeps into view. Proud. Dangerous.
“We want information. You won’t get it”.
Wonder, colour, adventure all around.

The band plays. Somewhere afar Big Ben Chimes.
“Why did you resign?” This is The Village.
Chess board floor, stone boat, mermaids, The Green Dome.

Neptune, trident aloft, waits and watches;
Always now sits King of hidden kingdom.
Wonder, colour, adventure all around.
Chess board floor, stone boat, mermaids, The Green Dome.

The strength of a Villanelle is held in its rigid structure and use of repetition. It uses little to say a lot and paints a picture with few elements. Poetry is not my forte and I rarely indulge, but I felt any story written based in Portmeirion would always be shadowed by The Prisoner and I would never be able to shake off the intrigue and unanswered questions it left behind. So poetry seemed the only available choice at the time. The pattern and song demanded by a Villanelle’s makeup seemed appropriate to acknowledge the face that The Prisoner painted across this beautiful canvas.

I picked the elements of The Village that remained the most vivid in my memory. What kept repeating were the images of the black and white squares on the floor, now faded; the stone boat, permanently stuck ashore; the echoes of the television series and its own repetition hiding in the archways. Most of all what struck me was the brightness of the elements left over from its glory days, the colour and vividness of its life still remain, promising answers not yet discovered.

Perhaps there is another story to be told about The Village. I would never write it off completely but for the moment remain humbled by the power of the place that played backdrop and private world to such a powerful concept, such powerful writing and such a powerful display of creativity.

Elloise Hopkins.

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