Friday, March 1, 2013

Day 1: Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant! Happy St. David's Day! And, a celebration of Welsh Poetry

March 1st is St. David's Day-- the day celebrating David, the patron saint of Wales.  It's a very different holiday than the other day in March celebrating another Celtic saint.  Yes, that would be Patrick (who, by the way, was from a Romano-British family and would have spoken Welsh as his first language).  David was a teetotaler-- Dewi Dyfrwr, David the Water Drinker, as he is known-- and teetotalism was big in Wales in the 19th century when Welsh nationalism was beginning to flower.  Perhaps that explains why you won't find lots of Welsh and those of us with Welsh ancestry heading out to the pubs on March 1.  You can read more about David here.

Since March is a month that begins with homage to one Celtic saint and hits its peak with homage to another, and also recognizing the high respect the Celtic peoples had for their poets ("bard" is a Celtic word), I will celebrate March with a poem a day from a Celtic poet.  We'll start things off with the Welsh National Anthem, Hen Gwylad Fy Nhadau/Land of My Fathers, first in Cymraeg (that is, Welsh) and then an English translation.


Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Dros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.

(Cytgan - Chorus)

Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.
Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.

Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i'm golwg sydd hardd;
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.

(Cytgan - Chorus)

Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad tan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.
(Cytgan - Chorus)


The old land of my fathers is dear to me,
Land of bards and singers, famous men of renown;
Her brave warriors, very splendid patriots,
For freedom shed their blood.

Nation, Nation, I am faithful to my Nation.
While the sea [is] a wall to the pure, most loved land,
O may the old language endure.

Old mountainous Wales, paradise of the bard,
Every valley, every cliff, to my look is beautiful.
Through patriotic feeling, so charming is the murmur
Of her brooks, rivers, to me.

If the enemy oppresses my land under his foot,
The old language of the Welsh is as alive as ever.
The muse is not hindered by the hideous hand of treason,
Nor [is] the melodious harp of my country.

The "old language" is, of course, Cymraeg, the nearly direct descendant of the British language that was spoken throughout the island of Great Britain prior to the Anglo-Saxon takeover of much of the island.  Poetry in the Welsh language has a long and rich heritage, dating back to the 6th century in written form, which we'll celebrate through the month.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! Thanks for going into the meaning of St. David's Day. I will celebrate my Welsh roots today as well.