Two Hedd Wyn Poems

The first poem is by Hedd Wyn himself. The second is an elegy by R. Williams Parry lamenting the poet's death in World War I, before he could receive the poet's chair awarded him at the 1917 eisteddfod. It uses one of the ode styles Hedd Wyn himself used in the prize-winning poem. Hedd Wyn means "Blessed Peace"; notice how Parry works the poet's name into the last stanza of his elegy.

Original Welsh Word-for-word Translation
(trans. Wade Dowdell)
Poetic Translation
(trans. Louis Flint Ceci)
Ellis Evans (Hedd Wyn)
1887 - 1917

Rhyfel (War)
Gwae fi fy myw mewn oes mor ddreng,
   A Duw ar drai ar orwel pell;
O'i ôl mae dyn, yn deyrn a gwreng,
   Yn codi ei awdurdod hell.

Pan deimlodd fyned ymaith Dduw
   Cyfododd gledd i ladd ei frawd;
Mae sŵn yr ymladd ar ein clyw,
   A'i gysgod ar fythynnod tlawd.

Mae'r hen delynau genid gynt
   Ynghrog ar gangau'r helyg draw,
A gwaedd y bechgyn lond y gwynt,
   A'u gwaed yn gymysg efo'r glaw.
  
Woe is me that I live in an age so boorish*,
   And God at ebb on a distant horizon;
After him, man, (both) lord and commoner,
    Raising his ugly authority.

When he felt God's going away
   He raised a sword to kill his brother;
The sound of battle is on our ear,
   And its shadow on poor cottages.

The old harps that were played before are
   Suspended on the branches of yonder willows,
And the scream of the boys filling the wind,
   And their blood mixed with the rain.

*perverse/churlish/peevish/morose
   
Alas, this is an age so mean
  That everyman is made a Lord,
  For all authority's absurd
When God himself fades from the scene.

As quick as God is shown the door
  Out come the cannons and the sword:
  Hate on hate on brother poured
And scored the deepest on the poor.

The harps that once could help our pain
  Hang silent, to the willows pinned.
  The cry of battle fills the wind
And blood of lads--it falls like rain.

Original Welsh Word-for-word Translation
(trans. Wade Dowdell)
Poetic Translation
(trans. Louis Flint Ceci)
Robert Williams Parry
1884 - 1956

Hedd Wyn

I
Y bardd trwn dan bridd tramor, -- y dwylaw
      Na ddidolir rhagor:
   Y llygaid dwys dan ddwys ddôr,
   Y llygaid na all agor.

Wedi ei fyw y mae dy fywyd, -- dy rawd
      Wedi ei rhedeg hefyd
   Daeth awr i fynd i'th weryd,
   A daeth i ben deithio byd.

Tyner yw'r lleuad heno -- tros fawnog
      Trawsfynydd yn dringo;
   Tithau'n drist a than dy ro
   Ger y ffos ddu'n gorffwyso.

Trawsfynydd!  Tros ei feini -- trafaeliaist
      Ar foelydd Eryri;
   Troedio wnest ei rhedyn hi,
   Hunaist ymhell ohoni.
  
The poet heavy under earth over seas, -- the hands
      That will not be parted more:
   The grave/intense eyes under grave/grievous door,
   The eyes that cannot open.

After its living is your life, -- your course
      After its running also;
   Came an hour to go to your grave/earth,
   And came to an end traveling (the) world.

Tender is the moon tonight -- over the peat bog
      Of Trawsfynydd climbing;
   Yourself sad and under your gravel
   Near the black trench lying.

Trawsfynydd!  Over its rocks -- you traveled
      On the bare hills of Snowdonia;
   Tread you did its bracken,
   You fell asleep far from it.
  
Beneath the earth, beyond the sea -- poet, heavy
      Do you lie: clasped the hands that can not free,
   Gone cold the blazing eye to see
   Beyond the door that binds and guards your keep.

All the living now is over -- all the roaming
      Now is done.  You, when came the fatal hour,
   Long known a rover, now no longer
   Could you run, nor lie upon the earth, but under.

Tender is the moon tonight -- rising over
      Trawsfynydd's bog, but you lament the light
   That lauds the lonely moor and height;
   Black gravel seals and steals away your sight.

How could you have ever known -- when you upon
      Your native bracken trod, or stood alone
   On treeless height or tireless hill did roam,
   That you would fall asleep so far from home?
  
II
Ha frodyr!  Dan hyfrydwch -- llawer lloer
      Y llanc nac anghofiwch
   Canys mwy trist na thristwch
   Fu rhoddi'r llesg fardd i'r llwch.

Garw a gwael fu gyrru o'i gell -- un addfwyn,
      Ac o noddfa'i lyfrgell;
   Garw fu rhoi'i bridd i'r briddell,
   Mwyaf garw oedd marw ymhell.

Gadael gwaith a gadael gwŷdd, -- gadael ffridd,
      Gadael ffrwd y mynydd;
   Gadael dôl a gadael dydd,
   A gadael gwyrddion goedydd.

Gadair unig ei drig draw! -- Ei dwyfraich,
      Fel pe'n difrif wrandaw,
   Heddiw estyn yn ddistaw
   Mewn hedd hir am un ni ddaw.
  
Ha, brothers! In delight -- many moons
      The young man don't forget;
   For sadder than sadness
   Was giving the feeble poet to the dust.

Grievous and ill was driving from his cell -- one gentle,
      And from the refuge of his library;
   Grievous was giving his earth to the earth,
   Most grievous was dying far away.

Leaving work and leaving plough, -- leaving mountain pasture,
      Leaving the mountain stream;
   Leaving meadow and leaving day,
   And leaving green woods.

The lonely chair his dwelling yonder! -- Its two arms,
      As if earnestly listening,
   Today reach silently
   In a long peace for one who will not come.
  
There yet may rise another moon -- and many a happy
      Time yet come.  But brothers, O! at least not soon,
   Lest we forget the worst was done
   When we gave up our darling to his doom.

A sin it was to drive this soul -- so gentle, so
      Reclusive, from his solitary toil;
   Still worse, to drop him down a hole
   To waste in dust; but worst, on distant soil.

Leaving labour, leaving land -- leaving meadow
      On the hill; leaving field and wooded stand,
   Leaving daylight, leaving rill, and
   Leaving all the green world lost behind.

His honored chair abides alone -- the empty arms
      Forever reach: in silent speech they long
   To hold the bard, and beckon home,
   His song unsung, the peace that will not come.