Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
Welsh verse
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Welsh verse

Taliesin (c.580)

Sleepeth the wide host of England
With light in their eyes,
And those that had not fled Were braver than were wise.
Owain dealt them doom
As the wolves devour sheep;
That warrior, bright of harness, Gave stallions for the bard.

From Death Song for Owain ab Urien, trans. Tony Conran, Welsh Verse

Dafydd ap Gwilym (14th century)

Truly, fair seagull on the tide,
the colour of snow or the white moon,
your beauty is without blemish, fragment like the sun, gauntlet of the salt sea.
You are light on the ocean wave, swift, proud, fish-eating bird. There you'd go by the anchor hand in hand with me, sea lily.
Fashioned like a piece of shining paper,
you are a nun on the tide's crest.

From The Seagull

Henry Vaughan (1622-95)

My soul, there is a country Far beyond the stars
Where stands a winged sentry
All skilful in the wars,
There above noise and danger
Sweet Peace sits crown'd with smiles,
And one born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.


William Williams — Pantycelyn (1717-91)

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land,
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more.

Trans. the author and Peter Williams

Ivor Novello (1893-1951)

Keep the home fires burning
While our hearts are yearning
Though the boys are far away
They dream of home.

There's a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining
Turn the grey clouds inside out
Till the boys come home.

Richard Llewellyn (1907-83)

Is he dead?
For if he is dead, then I am dead, and we are dead, and all of sense a mockery.
How green was my Valley, then, and the Valley of them that have gone.

Last lines of How Green Was My Valley, 1939

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

How to keep — is there any any, is there none such, nowhere known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, lace, latch or catch or key to keep
Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty, ...from vanishing away?
O is there no frowning of these wrinkles, ranked wrinkles deep,
Down? no waving off of these most mournful messengers, still messengers, sad and stealing messengers of grey?
No there's none, there's none, O no there's none.

From The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo

Saunders Lewis (1893-1945)

The tramway climbs from Merthyr to Dowlais,
Slime of a snail on a heap of slag; Here once was Wales, and now Derelict cinemas and rain on the barren tips;
The pawnbrokers have closed their doors, the pegging clerks
Are the gentry of this waste;
All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

From y Dilyw 1939, trans Gwyn Thomas

Vernon Watkins (1906-67)

Here, where the earth is green, where heaven is true
Opening the windows, touched with earliest dawn,
In the first frost of cool September days,
Chrysanthemum weather, presaging great birth,
Who in his heart could murmur or complain;
'The light we look for is not in this land?'
That light is present, and that distant time
Is always here, continually redeemed.

From Peace in the Welsh Hills

Dylan Thomas (1914-53)

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Old age should bum and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

John James

but Jim loved Julian more than Splott
& who made Ernest Bevin's line or the Old Thunderer's First
Leader line
the that line is up line
the 38th parallel running like a dotted line
through the onset of Patsy's puberty
a clotted line of blood on the pavement of Sanquhar Street
on The Who said we won't get fooled again line.

From A Former Boiling for The Human League, 1979

R S Thomas (1913-)

We were a people bred on legends,
Warming our hands at the red past.
The great were ashamed of our loose rags
Clinging stubbornly to the proud tree
Of blood and birth, our lean bellies
And mud houses were a proof
Of our ineptitude for life.

We were a people wasting ourselves
In fruitless battles for our masters,
in lands to which we had no claim,
With men for whom we felt no hatred.

We were a people, and are so yet.
When we have finished quarrelling for crumbs
Under the table, or gnawing the bones
Of a dead culture, we will arise,
Armed, but not in the old way.

From Welsh History

George Herbert (1593-1633)

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked anything.

A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marr' d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.


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