Hedd Wyn: War (From Welsh)

Ellis Evans (1987-1917), the eldest of eleven children (that's right, eleven) was a Welsh sheep-farmer (because no biography is complete without instantiating a stereotype or two) who began writing poetry at an absurdly young age under the pen-name of "Hedd Wyn" (White Peace.) In 1917 he was called up for military duty, and was summarily killed in action that year at Pilckem Ridge during the Battle of Paschendale. He was then posthumously awarded the Welsh National Eisteddfodd Chair, the highest honor a Welsh poet could be granted, for his poem "Yr Arwr" (the Hero.) The chair was draped in black following the announcement of his win.

(this translation was previously published in Barefoot Muse)

By Hedd Wyn (Ellis Evans)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click here to hear me recite the Welsh

Woe that I live in bitter days,
As God is setting like a sun
And in his place, as lord and slave,
Man raises forth his heinous throne.

When he thought God was gone at last
He put his brother to the sword.
Now death is roaring in our ears,
Shadowing the shanties of the poor.

The old and silenced harps are hung
On yonder willow trees again.
The bawl of boys is on the wind.
Their blood is blended in the rain.

The Original:


Gwae fi fy myw mewn oes mor ddreng
A Duw ar drai ar orwel pell;
O'i ôl mae dyn, yn deyrn a gwreng,
Yn codi ei awdurdod hell.

Pan deimlodd fyned ymaith Dduw
Cyfododd gledd i ladd ei frawd;
Mae swn yr ymladd ar ein clyw,
A'i gysgod ar fythynnod tlawd.

Mae'r hen delynau genid gynt
Ynghrog ar gangau'r helyg draw,
A gwaedd y bechgyn lond y gwynt,
A'u gwaed yn gymysg efo'r glaw.

1 comment:

  1. As a professional translator, this is a really good translation. Diolch.