The Ninth Wave is a dramatic re-imagining of the story of Pwyll and Rhiannon initially told in the First Branch of The Mabinogion, the great cycle of Welsh myths and tales that has endured down the centuries and fascinates to this day.
The poem relocates the story to the Humber Estuary and the salt marshes at Humberston, North East Lincolnshire, extending south towards the village of Tetney. It is set in a dystopian near future at a time of global crisis and conflict. I have honoured the myth and its origins, retaining Welsh names to create a feeling of dislocation and unfamiliarity which enriches the sense of otherness of the piece.
The characters of Rhiannon and Pwyll are brought together by Lord Arawn of Annwn, the Otherworld. Pwyll is a man of his time and context, whereas Rhiannon is an immortal, a Goddess absent from this mortal realm for centuries. Arawn is also an immortal, but takes a paternal interest in Pwyll's affairs.
In the original tale, Rhiannon took on the archetype of the calumniated woman; she endured humiliation and suffering that ended in reconciliation with her husband. In this version, events take a different course and the story departs from the motifs and motivations of the original, re-imagining the influence of a damaged and broken world, and questioning whether, as tradition would have us believe, love still holds the answers.