Crag Notes: Argo Navis Poetry

Faye Latham shares a poem about a February winter climb on Clogwyn y Parsons.

Crag Notes  © Tessa Lyons
© Tessa Lyons

Argo Navis

"I want, I want,"

Says the crackhead, already

On his way down

The A55. Perhaps

We're all looking

For the same thing.

A grey shroud and

The vapour-spun shores of


And believe me, I'm

Still searching for the

Blue floodlights on

The road to Rockland. I'll join you

– hurtling, spinning –

Twentyfive thousand

Mad comrades

Bouncing to the same

Angel rhythm, all afraid to leave behind

A dream. I wake up

At 6AM before the sun. You shut the lens,

I open a door and the

Dog leaps. Like a bead of rain, the old man

Shakes beneath

The wind-flower's shield.

I know he's never going

Anywhere, clinging to

The window. But he's

Seen things we wouldn't believe

Out there beyond the fence,

Sink into fields

Collecting snow. Now, he lifts

The corner of a curtain

To watch us disappear

Through rubble on

The banks of the

Frozen river.

I don't want to go.

Seconds fly past like a flight of doves,


Argo's Mast

Is a flame on his fingertip. His large

Hands mollusc dust, and boasting, tells stories

Of our shining biographia.

He likes to think we've

Lost him to waves

Tightly furled in evening skies,

But I know

He's happy enough heading home

And polishing his car.

Far away, the icy wall

Rears like a giant hull.

I pull out the topos and

Hold my breath, pointing

To the crux

On the gravel hoof. My hands

Start to shake. Nothing here is

Ancient. It's just an old story,

Rudely copied. More than that,

I resent the cold, and gentling

Innerness of hills in winter.

I want…I want to war.

I want to rage. I want to sail

Against the golden lays and

Find that highway back to

Good Old Days. Instead I climb,

Inch by inch

The barking crag,

Where rocks move under ice

Like a constellation, growing

Dimmer day by day, shadows

Passing over the equator.

From the top

I see a dot,

Shooting down the Pass

With clouds of rain,

Stars turn into sleet.

Note: please find an image of Argo Navis constellation here.

Faye Latham is a poet living in Snowdonia, and enjoys climbing and fell-running in her spare time. She has recently been awarded the 2020 Under 25 Writer's Bursary by Literature Wales in aid of writing her first book. Her poetry explores the relationships between people and place through the medium and intersection of the Welsh and English languages. Faye has performed her poetry at the Kendal Mountain Literature Festival and works as a writer and blog editor for Intrepid, a female-first outdoors magazine.

Support UKC

As climbers we strive to make the kind of website we would love to visit, with the most up-to-date news, diverse and interesting articles, comprehensive gear reviews, breathtaking photographs and a vast and useful logbook system. As a result, an incredible community has formed around the site - we’ve provided the framework but it’s you who make the website what it is today. If you appreciate the content we offer then you can help us by becoming an official UKC Supporter. This can be a one-off single annual payment or a more substantial payment paid monthly or yearly which includes full access to Rockfax Digital and discounts on Rockfax print publications.

If you appreciate then please help us by becoming a UKC Supporter.

UKC Supporter

  • Support the website we all know and love
  • Access to a year's subscription to Rockfax Digital.
  • Plus 30% off Rockfax guidebooks
  • Plus Show your support UKC Supporter badge on your profile and forum posts
UKC/UKH/Rockfax logo

26 Feb, 2020

Faye, this is a strong & beautiful poem. So much I like in it, but the following lines really strike me:

' I resent the cold, and gentling

innerness of hills in winter.'

Also, I didn't know about the old constellation of Argo Navis - just looked it up, so thank you for that too!

Really looking forward to reading your first book ...

27 Feb, 2020

Really enjoyed that.

27 Feb, 2020

Very nice!

27 Feb, 2020

As always Mark, thank you for your kind words and support :)

27 Feb, 2020

You are very welcome, Faye ! I look forward to seeing where your work heads ...

More Comments

Loading Notifications...
Facebook Twitter Copy Email LinkedIn Pinterest