With St. David's Day just around the corner (March 1), I thought it might be fun to translate my four Dolwyddelan poems into Welsh. The poems are, after all, inspired and set in Wales, and in the part of Wales in which Welsh is more likely to be heard on the streets. Given that my Welsh is extremely rusty and, well, almost non-existent except for the most basic phrases, these translations relied heavily on my Welsh-English dictionary, Y Geiriadur Mawr (The Big Dictionary) and the University of Wales Trinity St. David's on-line Welsh-English dictionary, available at http://www.geiriadur.net/. I checked the accuracy of my translations using IM Translator's on-line translator, running the English-to-Welsh translations and then the Welsh-to-English translations through the tool. The translator is available at http://imtranslator.net/translation/welsh/to-english/translation/. Any inaccuracies in translation are, of course, my own. The English versions were posted on February 18.
As with any translation process, some textual changes were necessary to render the original English words and phrases into Welsh. For instance, in the first poem the phrase "weekenders from England" didn't translate very well into Welsh mainly because I couldn't find any Welsh word similar to "weekender" (perhaps there's also no British-English equivalent). In the Welsh version of the poem, the line becomes "Saeson ar wyliau/English on holiday." Given the context, those words convey the same meaning. The translation process also made me think about specific words used in the English originals. I used the word "brood" in reference to the mountain, Moel Siabod, that overlooks Dolwyddelan. In the process of trying to translate that phrase and the scene, I could not find an appropriate word in Welsh-- all possible choices referred to more to worrying, stubbornness, and hatching (as in chicks). This made me rethink the use of the word "brood"-- can a mountain actually "brood?" Mountains don't actually do anything, but I did want to convey some feeling of the mountain overlooking the village in more than merely a static sense. So, I changed the word to "watches"-- not perfect, but better (for the moment). Also, the word "dour" in the fourth poem didn't translate well, which was a bit of a surprise since it is particularly apt for describing just about everything Welsh. I couldn't find a direct English-to-Welsh translation for "dour" perhaps because the word is Scottish. As it turns out, finding a Welsh word for "dour" is kind of like trying to find a good Inuit word for "snow," and so the Welsh version of the poem loses the repetition of the word "dour," but gains descriptive depth (maybe I should revise the English version). In this same sequence of lines, "brooding people" in the fourth poem becomes (in Welsh) "stubborn (or obdurate) people."
Mae'r pentref hynafol
yn y ddol y sant Gwyddelig,
unwaith yn gartref i dywysogion Gwynedd--
y brig o hesb o Moel Siabod
gwylio dros dai carreg lwyd
lliw yr awyr Cymru,
yn awr cartref i gymudwyr
a Saeson ar wyliau.
YN YR ARDD BWTHYN GWENALLT
Mae'r haul y prynhawn
drwy dwll byr
yn y cymylau llwyd llechi.
Yr wyf yn rhoi i lawr fy llyfr
ac yn amsugno pob molecwl
o olau a des.
Yn yr ardd y tu ol bwythyn
gwrando ar y nant,
dal i fod yn llawn o'r bore glaw,
rwy'n wylio'r haul noswaith
goleuo'r y cymylau dros Moel Siabod.
Rydyn ni'n dysgu ychydig o bethau
am ei gilydd
ar y daith cerdded i fyny Moel Siabod.
Er y gall fy mod yn swnio awdurdol,
nid wyf bob amser yn gwybod y ffordd i fynd.
Zach, er ar adegau
rydych yn ymddangos ar goll yn eich byd,
eich bod yn gallu arwain.
A Dylan, yn eich modd tawel,
byddwch yn dawel gwylio drosom ni
ac yn cadw ni ar ein llwybr.
YR AWYR O GYMRU
Cymylau lwyd eto-- ble mae'r haul?
wybren tywyll am twydd pruddaidd,
tir duraidd am pobl cyndyn.
Does ryfedd fod yr hwyliau o'r pregethwyr
eu llenwi â thân a brwmstan.