Arthur Machen, Welsh writer and mystic, best known for his wonderful supernatural, fantasy and horror fiction.
' I shall always esteem it as the greatest piece of fortune that has fallen to me that I was born in that noble, fallen Caerleon-on-Usk in the heart of Gwent . . . .
The older I grow, the more firmly am I convinced that anything I may have accomplished in literature is due to the fact that when my eyes were first opened in early childhood they had before them the vision of an enchanted land. As soon as I saw anything I saw Twm Barlwm, that mystic tumulus, the memorial of peoples that dwelt in the region before the Celts left the Land of Summer. This guarded the southern limit of the great mountain wall in the west; a little northward was Mynydd Maen - The Mountain of the Stone - a giant, rounded billow; and still to the north mountains, and on fair, clear days one could see the pointed summit of the Holy Mountain by Abergavenny. It would shine, I remember, a pure blue in the far sunshine; it was a mountain peak in a fairy tale. And then to eastward the bedroom window of Llandewi Rectory looked over hill and valley, over high woods quivering with leafage like the beloved Zacynthus of Ulysses, away to the forest of Wentwood, to the church tower on the hill above Caerleon. Through a cleft one might see now and again a bright yellow glint of the Severn Sea, and the cliffs of Somerset beyond. And hardly a house in sight in all the landscape, look where you would. Here the gable of a barn, here a glint of a whitewashed farmhouse, here blue wood smoke rising from an orchard grove, where an old cottage was snugly hidden: but only so much if you knew where to look. And of nights, when the dusk fell and the farmer went his rounds, you might chance to see his lantern glimmering, a very spark on the hillside. This was all that showed in a vaque, dark world; and the only sounds were the faint distant barking of the sheepdog, and the melancholy cry of the owls from the border of the brake.'
Reprinted from 'Autobiography -Arthur Machen