Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dafydd ap Gwilym XVI

It's St. David's Day again.

May the Welsh enjoy celebrating their Saint.

Omnium is celebrating their Poet.


It's a pity for me that the girl whose praises I am always singing, and who holds her court in the wood, does not know of the conversation I had about her with the gray friar today.

I went to the friar to confess my sins. I admitted to him that I have been without any doubt an idolatrous poet since I have always loved and adored a certain lovely girl with dark eyebrows, "And", I told him, "I have never had a single favour from my murdress, nor has my lady ever allowed me a moment of happiness: in spite of this I love her continually and am wasted with pining for my darling. I carry her praise through the whole land of Wales, and in spite of this I live without her, though I long to hear her in my bed between me and the wall."

The brother spoke this to me: "I will give you good advice: if you have loved this foamwhite girl (merely the colour of paper) forso long, it is time now to think of lessening your punishment on that dreadful day which comes to all of us, for all this is of no benefit to your soul. Cease from making rhymes and accustom yourself instead to saying your prayers, for God did not redeem the souls of men that they might make rhymes and elegiacs, and your minstrels' songs are nothing but flattery and idle bawling. This praise of the body is not good, and leads the soul to the devil."

Then I answered each word that the friar had spoken.

"God is not so cruel as old men tell us: nor will God cut off the gentle soul of a man for loving a woman or a girl. Three things are loved by the whole world.: women, fine weather, and good health, and girls are the fairest flowers in heaven next to God himself. Every man of all peoples is born of woman save these three: Adam, Eve, Melchizedek, and so it is not surprising that man loves girls and women. Gladness falls from Heaven, all misery comes from Hell.
Song makes glad old and young, sick and healthy, and I have an equal right to make poems as you have to pray, I have the same right to sing for my bread as you beg for it. Are not hymns and sequences but other kinds of odes and elegiacs? And are not the psalms of David poems to the good God?

God does not feed man with one food and one relish, he gives him time to eat and a time to worship, a time to pray and a time to make poems. Song springs up at every feast to give pleasure to the ladies, paters are said in church to seek the land of Paradise. Yscuthach drinking with his poets spoke the truth:
'A happy face, his house is full
A sad face, evil and bitterness.'

Though some love holiness, others love being glad together, and there are few men who can make a sweet verse though everyone can say a prayer. And so, my holy brother, I do not think that singing is the greatest sin. When men are as ready to hear paters as the harp, as ready as the girls of Gwynedd are to hear gay songs, then my right hand I'll say paters all day and for ever without ceasing. Till then shame on Dafydd if he sings paters instead of poems!"


  1. I absolutely loved the poem.:)

    I am sitting by my computer today trying to complete the March Orchid Newsletter for our club. If that poem was not so long and if I had sufficient room left in the newsletter, I would of included it for everyones enjoyment.

  2. I agree with Ardent - this is a stunning piece of work.

  3. As always with Dafydd ap Gwilym: Silence admiratif...

    Thank you for golden daffodils to brighten up
    this winter day.

  4. Dear All,
    glad you liked what you saw.

    Indeed, the more I (re-)read Dafydd ap Gwilym the more I appreciate his writing.

    As for the daffodils: they were a reference to the celebrating Welsh(wo)men. :)

  5. A wonder! A wonder! My comment did not vanish. So let me quickly see if wonders sometimes happen twice.