Saturday, March 01, 2008

XX by Dafydd ap Gwilym

Today's St. David's Day reminds me that it's time after these two to enlighten your hearts with a third poem by another great 'David' - Dafydd ap Gwilym.

Although it is not May, yet, I do not have any doubt you will enjoy. :)

I made a tryst in the May brushwood, (graceful Dafydd and a handsome girl). An honest woman, she who met me. On the fair hillside under a dark bank, I gave her the kisses she was seeking, finding no fault in the pretty creature; and she got from me — bright generous jewel — two for every kiss she gave.

But in her declarations, far bolder was my girl than I, and when I heard my gentle creature speak so plain I fled at her challenge into my shell, and Startled, hid her words under my unlucky chatter.

But there under the oaks my fate was spun, and this new colour woven in :

"Rude Dafydd, you never came just to meet me, without hoping for all the embraces you remembered, and no refusal ? "

"For pleasure, not for this I came - but still for love of you, ­‑ Fair foolish creature, I know I shall not have you!"

"But I never came just for your sake to the wood, but hoping to leave it freed from maidenhood!"

”A maid you’ll be though, unrevenged on me, and here you'll see nothing that's not pure as snow, nor hear any but pure and proper speech." (O Mary, even if you wish this, I do not: nor will I submit!) "You'll be spoken ill of, and not without reason, that you came to meet me here. I am wise now through having lost my wits, and I would not care to feel the hurt and fury of your father, which I felt a little while ago."

"Stop your clever excuses and let what may be, be. Out there in the meadow, or in some byre, it's safe enough!"

"This easy going brings down the black faced wrath of relatives, and though this is harmless, there is the great archdeacon. liberal when he wishes, but excommunicating whom he likes in his own district if he is not given generously forty Shillings"

"O hard and nasty you are Dafydd, here under the leaves of the hillside! Shall a good Welshman lack the grace to give these forty Shillings?"

"What if I have not these forty Shil­lings, so early on the bold summer's day?"

"Get it from me then, and owe me a song and pay me fairly when you wish."

Then I could make no more clever ex­cuses, but stayed there since she did not refuse me; and with this handsome creature found perfect pleasure.


  1. Beautiful - there should be far more of this sort of thing.

  2. Wonderful Sean. I wish I could do better than "There was a young man from Cape Cod..."

  3. Sean, I loved the poem so much, I read it a few times. Truly delightful. You are a romantic.

    I must say the Archdeacon was extremely harsh and stingy. 40 Shillings is a lot to pay, so as not to be excommunicated from the Church. Highway robbery!

  4. Dafydd ap Gwilym is a brilliantly bawdy poet. His poetry is full of hilarious double entendres that squeamish victorian translators ignored, but reading modern translations (the best by gwyn thomas) 'rattle-bag' and (the even more obvious) 'to his penis' you can be left in no doubt at all!

    I've seen his (alleged) resting place under a tree at strata florida abbey, a beautiful spot.

  5. James, Jams, Welsh,
    my eyes are sparkling ...

    ... and sparkling.


    ... and sparkling :) And the saw what you saw at Strata Florida Abbey.

    More tomorrow, as I now need sleep.

    The Peace of the Night to you all.