Tuesday, 25 January 2011

A Prayer to St Dwynwen - Dafydd ap Gwilym

Picture Of St Dwynwen

Today here in Wales is St Dwynwen's day  the Welsh Patron Saint of Lovers, so I thought I'd post a poem dedicated to her by Dafydd ap Gwilym. His poems were so fine that all the bards of his day called him their chief bard, and today is looked upon as the greatest Welsh poet of all times. He lived probably from 1320 to 1380 and was born in Cardiganshire or what is now known as Ceredigion here in West Wales.
He became a traveller wandering from place to place and was welcomed everywhere because of his great gifts as a bard. It is possible he heard the Norman minstrels sing their songs of love in the English courts, and that he was so struck by their charm, that he decided to sing the praises to the lovely maidens and noble princes of his own country. His poems won the hearts of maidens and the lords became his patrons. It is natural that some poets were jealous of his fame, and there were many bitter quarrels with his rivals.
It is difficult to give an English reader an idea of the beauty of his work. He composed in forms unknown to the English poet until recently. The form gave a musical rhythym to the poem that was more suitable to the Welsh Language.
They have incredible power and a lot of people say to truly understand them one must read his poems in the language that they were written.
In his poems he was able to charm the nightingale, the blackbirdand the swallow into telling him their secrets. He conversed with nature and bid her reveal her mysteries. He could win the love of women and at the same time the admiration of men. He brought all things under the spell of his muse. He hated anything false but admired all that is beautiful, whether in forest glade and flower, or in the lovely form of a maiden.
So on this day here's his prayer to St Dwynwen. Whatever your religious convictions it's still pretty powerful stuff. Hope you enjoy it.
For the Lovers,

Dwynwen deigr arien degwch,
Da y gwyr o gor fflamgwyr fflwch
Dy ddelw aur diddoluriaw
Digion druain ddynion draw
Dyn a wylio gloywdro glan,
Yn dy gor, Indeg eirian,
Nid oes glefyd na bryd brwyn
A el ynddo o Landdwyn.

Dy laesblaid yw dy lwysblwyf,
Dolurus ofalus wyf;
Y frn hon o hoed gordderch
Y sydd yn unchwydd o serch;
Hirwayw o sail gofeiliant,
Herwydd oy gwn, hwn yw haint,
Oni chaf, o byddaf byw
Forfudd, Llyna oferfyw
Gwna fi'n iach, weddusach wawd,
O'm anwychder a'm nychdawd.
Cymysg lateirwydd flwyddyn
A rhadau Duw rhod a dyn.
Nid rhaid, ddelw euraid ddilyth,
Yt ofn pechawd, fethgnawd fyth.
Nid adwna, da ei dangef,
Duw a wnaeth, nid ei o nef.
Ni'th wyl mursen eleni
Yn hustyng yn yng a ni.
Ni rydd Eiddig ddig ddyngnbwyll
War ffon i ti, wyry ei phwyll.

Tyn, o'th obr, taw, ni thybir
Wrthyd, wyry gymhlegyd hir,
O landdwyn, dir gynired,
I Gwm-y-gro, gem y Gred.
Duw ni'th omeddawdd, hawdd hedd,
Dawn iaith aml, dyn ni'th omedd.
Diamau weddiau waith,
Duw a'th eilw, duw ei thalaith.
Delid Duw, dy letywr,
Del i gof, dwylaw a gwr,
Traws oedd y neb a'i trisai,
Dwynwen, pes parud unwaith
Dan wydd Mai a hirddydd maith,
Dawn ei bardd, da, wen, y bych;
Dwynwen, nid oeddud anwych
Dangos o'th radau dawngoeth
Nad wyd fursen, Ddwynwen ddoeth.

Er a wnaethost yn ddawbwys
O benyd y byd a'i bwys;
Er y crefydd, ffydd ffyddryw,
A wnaethost tra fuost fyw;
Er y eirian leianaeth
A wwyrfdawd y coethgnawd caeth;
Er enaid, os rhaid y rhawg,
Brychan Yrth breichiau nerthawg;
Eiriol, er dy greuol gred,
Ar em Wyry roi ymwared.

Dwynwen, your beauty like the hoar-fros's tears:
from your chancel with its blazing waxen candles
well does your golden image know
how to assuage the griefs of wretched men.
What a man so ever would keep vigil in your choir
(a holy, shining pilgrimage), (you with) Inded's radiance,
there is no sickness nor heart's sorrow
which he would carry with him thence from LLanddwyn.

Your holy parish is your straggling flock:
(a man)sorrowful and worn with care I am;
because of longing for my mistress
my heart is swollen with love,
deep pangs grounded in anxiety,
as well I know - this is my malady-
unless I can win Morfudd
if I remain alive, it is but life in vain.
Make me be haeled, you most deserving of all praise,
from my infirmity and feebleness.
as well as mediatrix of God's grace to man.
There is no need for you, unfailing golden image,
to be afraid of sin, the body's ever-present snare.
God does not undo what he has once done,
good is his peaceful disposition, you will not fall from heaven.
No coquette will observe you now this year
whispering with us in a narrow corner.
No angry Jealous one, cruel minded,
will put a cudgelto your back chaste-minded one.

Come of your kindness - quiet, you will not be suspecte,
Virgin of enduring sympathy,
from Llanddwyn, a place of great resort,
to Cwm-y-gro, you gem of Christendom.
God has not withheld from you easy to be reconciled,
the gift of ample speech, nor will man reject you.
Unquestionably to the work of prayer
God calls you black you wimple.
May God, yor host restain
the two hands of thatman - may there be recalled
the violence of the person who would ravish her
when she woul follow me through the leaves of May.
Dwynwen, if you would once cause
under May's trees, and in long summer days
her poet's reward - fair one, you would be good,
for, Dwynwen, you were never base.
Prove, by your gifts of splendid grace
that you are no prim virgin, prudent Dwynwen.

Because of the penance that you did
through goodness, for the world, and its significance,
because of the devotions that you kept,
while you were alive, the faith of all those of religious kind,
because of the true dedication of a nun,
and the virginity of the fair captive flesh
for the soul's sake - if it be needful now-
of Brychan with the powered strong arms-
implore, by the agony caused by your faith,
of the sweet Virgin to deliver me.

Picture of Dafydd ap Gwilym.

Selected Poems of Daffyd Ap Gwilym
Translated by Rachel Bromwich
Penguin Books 1985
For post on St Dwynwens day itself see this time last year.

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