Monday, February 01, 2010

This cloak of white feathers

I do not sleep at night nor go out by day, I am sad because the world has disappeared, nor is there food nor bank left, nor open grounds nor fields. Nor will I be enticed out of my house by any girl's invitation while this plague continues, this cloak of white feathers sticking close to dragon's scales, but tell her that I do not want my coat made white like a miller's garment. After New Year one must go wrapped in fur, and during January God makes us start the year as hermits.
Now God has whitewashed the dark earth all around till there is no undergrowth without its white garment, no coppins that's not covered with a sheet: fine flour has been milled on every stump, heavenly flour like April blossoms. A cold veil lies over the woods and the young trees, a load of chalk bows down the trees; ghostly wheaten flour which falls till a white coat of mail covers all the fields of the plain. The soil of the ploughed fields is covered with a cold grit, lying like a thick coat of tallow on the earth's skin, and a shower of frozen foam falls in fleeces big as a man's fist. Across North Wales the snow-flakes wander like a swarm of white bees. Why does God throw down this mass of feathers like the down of his own geese, till here below the drifts sway and billow over the heather like swollen bellies big as heaps of chaff and covered with ermine? The dust piles in a drift where we sang along the pleasant paths.
This garment of snow holds us in grip while it remains cementing together the hills, valleys and ditches und a steel coat fit to break the earth, fixing all into a vast monument greater than the graveyard of the sea. What a great fall lies on my country, a white wall stretching from one sea to another! Who dares fight its rude power? A leaden cloak lies on us. When will the rain come?

Dafydd ap Gwilym


  1. There is a sense of sadness I am feeling in your few posts lately.... Is it my imagination or are you feeling a little blue my dear friend?

    Both the photos and the words of the "poet" are beautiful in a sad kind of way....

    It could also mean I am feeling blue and conceiving your very upbeat post totally wrong... there is always that!!! Let us never forget "transference" :)

  2. As always beautifully written. Spring will come, Dafydd. And flowers, and your girls.

    So much snow at Seanhenge. Enough to live as hermits. And illustrating so well, Dafydd's poignant alienation.

    Hope you're not shovelling days and nights, Sean. It will melt, y' know...:)))

  3. Nevin,
    rather than feeling blue, I do see white. Snow, snow, snow.
    Actually, it seems Till Eulenspiegel was among my ancestors, as sometimes I would like him whistle gayly when walk up a steep hill, and looking gloomy when walking downhills, because when walking uphill I know sooner or later it will go downhill again, and when walking downhill for sure soon it will go uphill. :)

    ah yes, I do also keep my fingers crossed that the immortal bard will soon enjoy spring and all those flowers and flowerlike girls. :)
    As for the shovelling. Right now another 20 centimetres snow are falling. So guess what I shall - nolens volens - soon be doing. :)

  4. That's a lovely quote, and a good match for your photos. Though the snowfall in Ireland was modest by comparison, there was a curious sense of relief when the rain finally fell, and fell heavily, since it announced the beginning of a much-awaited thaw. Few of us make natural hermits!

  5. Stan,
    if I would not be shovelling and shovelling, meanwhile we would probably have become 'natural hermits', indeed.
    Unlike our dear bard, I am (still) pretty far from complaining.
    People are funny, aren't they. Here, for example, for quite a few years you could hear many complain about that "the winters aren't anymore what they used to be", and now it's snowing and frosty for more than five weeks the same people are "fed up with this chaos".

  6. That does put or very thin layer to shame ;-)

  7. CherryPie,
    it's almost as if you had no snow at all, hm? :)

  8. Almost nothing compared to years gone by.

  9. CherryPie,
    actually, last time we had as much snow, was 25 years ago.
    Thus before your time, hm? :)