A while ago I started learning poems by heart as a way of really being able to appreciate them. Mostly the classics that you’d expect: I met a traveller from an antique shop land…, Shall I compare thee… and so on. I’d only learn two or three lines a day, but that soon builds up over time and I really enjoyed it, though for some reason I stopped doing it after a while.
I thought it would be fun to start again though, this time with Welsh poems.
Can anyone recommend any good poems for this? What are the ‘classic’ Welsh poems that kids would have been made to learn decades ago?
Short ones are preferable, of course ! I’m not looking for ‘learner’ poems (unless they’re a classic in their own right), so there’s no problem if the language is ‘difficult’. I’m just interested in the ones that people who are interested in literature would expect to know. Or it could just be a poem that you love, whether it’s a classic or not.
Does anything spring to mind as good for this purpose?
I read and listened to @siaronjames’s suggestions last night – I enjoyed them all, thanks! Three very different styles of course… I think I’ll try learning the Hedd Wyn first, but they all look good to go on the list.
I’ll also have a look at @CatrinLliarJones’s suggestions, so there’s plenty to be getting on with…
I don’t know any Welsh poems properly by heart yet, but it is on my list, since I do like having the verse there in my head.
T H Parry Williams is the poet so far that I’ve found most approachable and who is closer to me in terms of outlook than some of the others. Tŷ’r Ysgol is one I partly know already. Also Bro.
I remember being struck by Marwnad am Siôn y Glyn by Lewis Glyn Cothi (Text and translation on pp. 356/357). It was written in the fifteenth century and in cynghanedd, but it still seems very fresh and not constrained by its art at all. It’s deeply sad, though, so I’m not sure it’s something I’d learn by heart unless I felt I might be called on to argue for the power and relevance of Welsh poetry, an event deeply unlikely in my current back office job.
I realise that the poems I’ve mentioned so far might be, ahem, a bit lacking in terms of uplift. So to balance them out, maybe I’d pick the first twelve lines of Trafferth Mewn Tafarn (Dafydd ap Gwilym) which are fun and a little sleazy.
I’m still trying to learn more about Welsh poetry. At the moment, I’ve really only encountered the much-anthologised and syllabised examples. Looking forward to reading more suggestions.
Well, I’d certainly like to hear that, Catrin - thanks!
So far I’ve listened to a couple of readings of Rhyfel and I’m half way through learning it – I can see why it’s such a favourite. In some ways it’s very different from something like Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est (my favourite war poem) - it’s not nearly so graphic – but the image in that final verse of the boys’ blood mixing in the rain is just as haunting and shocking, and the ‘music’ of the way the words sound is so evocative. Very powerful.
I’ve seen a couple of them – the one with the schoolchildren reciting the lyrics, and another from Dysgu Cymraeg. Very useful for the pronunciation of Yng nghrog ar gangau’r helyg draw… It’s a very powerful poem, isn’t it? Terribly poignant.
It’s the first of the poems people suggested that I’ve learnt. Aberdaron next, which won’t be quite so dark…
Yes, that’s the one from Dysgu Cymraeg I’ve seen, thanks! The other one is more interesting as a recreation of the poem in itself, but the Dysgu Cymraeg one is good for the learning experience (as you’d expect…)