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Welsh Poetry

Wales has been producing first class poets for centuries. If you are a visitor to Wales, it is more than probable that you haven’t heard of most of them. This isn’t surprising, since a great many of them have been writing in Welsh. Maybe the names Dylan Thomas, RS Thomas, Gwyneth Lewis ring a poetic bell, they have either been writing in English or in both Welsh and English. But there are hundreds more, dating back to the 6th century no less.

We are proud to have called three of the four flats within Hafod y Môr after three notable Welsh bards, whom either came from Pembrokeshire or wrote about places within the inspiring county. The largest flat, Waldo, is named after Waldo Williams born and bred in this county. Waldo was one of the leading Welsh-language poets of the twentieth century. He was also a notable pacifist, anti-war campaigner and Welsh nationalist. Dewi Emrys is named after the charismatic bard from Rhosycaerau, Pembs; Crwys was the bardic name of William Williams and composed many of his poems inspired by the Pembrokeshire coastline.

Here is a translation by Tony Conran of one of Waldo’s finest poems called in Welsh ‘Cofio’:

Remembering

Before the sun has left the sky, one minute,
One dear minute, before the journeying night,
To call to mind the things that are forgotten
Now in the dust of ages lost from sight.

Like foam of a wave on a lonely seacoast breaking,
Like the wind’s song where there’s no ear to mind,
I know they’re calling, calling to us vainly –
Old unremembered things of humankind.

Exploit and skill of early generations,
From tiny cottages or mighty hall,
Fine tales that centuries ago were scattered,
The gods that nobody knows now at all.

Little words of old, fugitive languages
That were sprightly on the lips of men
And pretty to the ear in the prattle of children –
But no one’s tongue will call on them again.

Oh, generations on the earth unnumbered,
Their divine dreams, fragile divinity –
Is only silence left to the hearts’ affections
That once rejoiced and grieved as much as we?

Often when I’m alone and it’s near nightfall,
I yearn to acknowledge you and know each one.
Is there no way fond memory can keep you,
Forgotten ancient things of the family of man?

Waldo Williams

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