Sunday, February 01, 2009

Dafydd ap Gwilym XV

A lock has been put on the door of the house, I am sick with loving you: hear me! Let me come and see you for God's generous sake and for your own. You are the girl I have celebrated in song (why should the song end in madness?) I swear by the Blessed Virgin who punishes me for it.
With my cold clumsy fingers I broke the latch while giving our signal of three clicks, then quickly the door was locked. Do you hear me now? The lock sounded loud as a bell to me out here. Morfudd, my chaste jewel, you are the nurse of all the deceit in the Principality. I make my bed against your wall, and call and pray to you my dear: have pity on my sleep lessness, the night is dark and I have been deceived. My feet know only weariness, alas! for the wretched weather that falls from the sky tonight. Torrents stream from the roof like eager weapons on my flesh, yet the rain is not harsher than my wound nor the snow under which I stand. I have been shut out and the snow lies on me like a cold yoke of tallow: I shiver under your eaves and the gray snow falls on me.
So I stand shivering, no greater punishment could be inflicted on a dead skin than the care which racks me: the Man who made me could not use me worse. In Carnarvon my prison was not worse than this road: there I would not be out all night, nor would I groan because of you, nor suffer the nightly ache of loving you. Nor would I now be out in rain and snow except for you. In my distress I would even forgive the whole world for your sake.
Here am I then enduring the cold, and you with all your grace and charity are in the house: my soul is with you there, my ghost is here outside. I doubt if I can suffer here much longer and remain alive my dear. By day I cannot meet you, at night my madness brings me here to the tryst which you yourself made with me. I am here now, and where are you?


  1. Sean,
    What is the Welsh title of this verse?
    It is...
    I wish...
    Longing personified.
    Beautiful and harrowing.

  2. Goodness, how sad and cold, both physically and emotionally.

  3. I don't think that came out right, of course emotionally the writer is very passionate but the despair expressed is.... I think I am making things worse!

  4. Chris,
    if only I knew. I do only have this very booklet I bought in Strata Florida Abbey in '85. It contains 'only' of the English translation, and the poems don't have titles but just are serially numbered.

    don't worry. I suppose this was just our smitten bard's tricky scam to let the hearts of the ladies melt into (com)passion. :)

  5. Gosh despite all its dark agony this is a beautiful piece with a passion rarely found. The contrast between the freezing weather and his 'mad' love is superbly expressed.

  6. Lady Janice,
    the bard would certainly jowful smile receiving this accolade from such a colleague. :)

  7. This time,'mon silence admiratif' is mixed with anxiety. Please, do tell the eloquent bard that, with such a speech, he could knock at my door anytime. It will open. he is truly a 'man for all seasons.'