Kisses in the rain
Some thoughts on “Welsh love”, its expression in writing and song.
The man who feels love cannot always express it.
I am looking at a few things that have stirred the Cymric imagination and these come from Welshmen who were able to express what they felt.
There is a device used in medieval Welsh poetry that is called the llatai. Here a messenger symbol is used to relay love from one person to another through imagination. These symbols may be taken from the natural world and in the craft of Dafydd ap Gwilym we find the poet using everything from a fish to a bird. In this particular quote he uses the image of the male thrush when he imagines that Morfudd, one of his loves is thinking of him
Pellenig, pwyll ei annwyd
Pell ei siwrnai I’r llatai llwyd
Yma y doeth oswydd goeth Gaer
Am ei erchi o’m eurchwaer
O stranger his nature is wisdom
Grey messenger a long journey has come
From my goldengirl at her command
From the rich(fine) county of Carmarthen. (my adaptation)
But we need not look to structured poetry to find evidence of these messenger symbols. It’s there in the folk songs too
Y deryn pur a’th aden las
Bydd imi’n was dibryder
O brysur! Brysia at y ferch
Lle rhoes i’m serch yn gynnar
Oh bird with the blue wing
Be for me a lad who does not delay
O haste!hasten to the girl
I gave my heart to earlier(my adaptation)
But if the Welshman needs to express his anticipation of love there is also for him a need to express its counterpoint-the sorrow of it. Here’s a short poem by John Morris Jones written between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This time it is the wind that stands as a dominant metaphor. The wind moaning stirs his recollection of lost love.
Cwsg ni ddaw i’m hamrant heno
Dagrau ddaw ynghynt
Wrth fy ffenestr yn gwynfannus
Yr ochneidia’r gwynt
Codi’i lais yn awr, ac wylo
Beichio wylo mae
Ar y gwydr yr hyrddia’i ddagrau
Yn ei wylltaf wae
Pam y deui, wynt , i wylo
At fy ffenestr i?
Dywed im, a gollaist tithau
Un a’th garai di?
My adaptation follows
No sleep to come to eyeline tonight
Only tears that fill together
Doleful wind that continues without respite
At my window moaning, soft, low, tonight
Now breaks a sadder voice and weeps
Tears heavy with the sound
On the pane the teardrops glisten and steep
In the utter distress this sorrow keeps
Why come you then wind to moan
At my glass known but to me?
Tell me did you lose too a love you'd known
Who loved you tenderly?
And finally there is this by Mathonwy Hughes, an example of an englyn, a particular form of short Welsh Language poem whose statement is always pithy.
Er dyfod briw y diwedd-ni roddwyd
Dan briddell ei bonedd
Na, rhy annwyl ei rhinwedd
I’w gelu byth dan glo bedd
Even though a wound came at the end
She was not placed under native earth
No too dear her goodness
To ever be hidden in a locked grave (My adaptation)
So then it often rains in Wales but even in those showers Welshmen over time have honed their imagination and taken things from the world around them and used them to express love’s anticipation and its sorrow. All things begin and end in time, even love. Let us keep our love spoons bright then!
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