“You’re not from these parts?”

On his way through rural Cardiganshire the poet went into a pub and spoke to the landlord in Welsh. His majestic poem is an answer to the landlord’s remark in English: “You’re not from these parts?”

No, I’m not, I come from a province
far to the north, that was once a kingdom,
I can’t do the accent nor speak the dialect,
but when I come back to this area again
as a travelling stranger, as a storm’s bird
swept in by the tempest, or as a pilgrim
following the paths from Ponterwyd
to Pontrhydfendigaid,
I will walk confidently, as the presence of my ancestors
leads me along my way, a light to my eyes;
for every journey done again has long been a bond
between yesterday’s beginning and tomorrow,
and in the silence of the two old characters
in a corner of the bar thousands tell
of fair days, of prayer meetings, of quarrels, of love,
of a world as it was, of what is yet to be:
no, I’m not from the area, but I can hear
the clicking of the heels of the bards as they walk
from patron to patron, from province to hundred,
before escaping from Eiddig by taking another way home:

I have been a buzzard, I have been a kite,
rare and dangerous,
I have been a jewel, I have been Taliesin,
I have wandered Rhos Helyg,
I have been a stag, I have been a dwarf, I have been here
in the form of a preacher, of an innkeeper
of a dreamer and of a bard,
no, I’m not a local, but the future,
springing deep in the old ground of Pumlumon,
and as I was leaving
the old man in the corner said,
Siwrne dda i ti, ffrind.

Notes:

1. Ponterwyd, Pontrhydfendigaid, and Rhos Helyg are places in Cardiganshire.
2. Eiddig, the name of the husband of one of the many lovers of the Welsh poet, Dafydd ap Gwilym (1320 - 1370) and subsequently the stock name given by the bards to their ladies’ husbands.
3. Taliesin, the earliest poet to write in Welsh whose work has survived, lived in the Welsh-speaking Strathclyde region of Scotland in the late 6th century.
4. Pumlumon: a mountain in Mid Wales.
5. “Siwrne dda i ti, ffrind” (say: shurna tha ee tee, frind – ‘th’ as in that) = “A good journey to thee, friend.”

©: Iwan Llwyd. This poem of exile in his own country of Wales (where English steadily replaces Welsh in rural communities) was published in the Summer, 1998 edition of the Welsh language magazine Y Faner Newydd. We are grateful to the author and his publisher for permission to translate and publish it.
Translation: © The Wales Famine Forum

Published in The Green Dragon No 7, Summer 1998

Cymraeg

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