THE RIVER DEE : FROM SOURCE TO SEA

I was inspired to write about the journey of the River Dee, from its source on the dark, eastern slopes of Dduallt in Snowdonia, following it as it gains speed, rolling and spilling into valleys, sometimes meandering and mazy, sometimes rushing and impatient, but always moving forward through landscape and time, before reaching the wide and shallow basin of the estuary and finally, the open sea.

This river has been special to me since first attending Golftyn Infants School, an old Victorian building standing on its banks, sadly no longer there, where every spring we would gather in the playground to watch house martins making their nests of river mud in the eaves.

And so this is the poem I wrote for the Learners’ Eisteddfod held at Theatr Twm o’r Nant in Denbigh in March 2020, just before lockdown, attracted by the subject matter, Môr a Mynydd (Sea and Mountain), and encouraged by my wonderful and ever patient tutor, Tesni Wyn.

The poem, I’m pleased to report, won first prize! I have included the English translation below (to the best of my ability, but as they say, there’s always something lost…) – Aerfen is the water deity, or goddess, of the river.

TAITH AFON DYFRDWY

Sibryda llais Aerfen yn ddistaw bach

Drwy greigiau’r Dduallt, ar draws

Llyn Crych y Waun.

O’r uchder tywyll hyn i lawr i olau’r dyffryn

Rhed yr afon ddisglair, fel aur o dan yr haul,

Arian dan y lleuad.

A lle nofia’r brithyll brith a’r helfeydd dwrgi

Dan yr hen bontydd gerrig

Yma mae’r afon hudolus nawr yn troelli – dan ei bwâu.

Ymlaen ac ymlaen y rhêd

Drwy’r caeau, pentrefi a threfi

Fel edau arian sy’n ein cysylltu ni – ein gorffennol i’n dyfodol.

Ac yna, cyrhaedda’r Ddyfrdwy’r môr

Lle mae ewyn y don yn gloywi tu hwnt i’r aber fawr

A gwylanod gwyn yn hwylio’r gwynt uwchben y tonnau gwyllt,

I grwydro moroedd y byd i gyd, a galw’r eogiaid adra.

THE JOURNEY OF THE RIVER DEE

Aerfen’s voice whispers softly

Through the rocks of Dduallt

Across Llyn Crych y Waun.

From these dark heights

To the light of the valley below

The river runs

As molten gold beneath the sun,

Quicksilver to the moon,

And where the speckled trout swim

And the otter hunts

Beneath the old stone bridges,

The enchanted river swirls

And eddies through arches.

On and ever on she runs

Through village, field and town,

A silver thread connecting us,

Our past with times to come.

Until finally she reaches the sea,

Where the spray bursts in silver sparks beyond the estuary

And seagulls sail the wind above the waves and spume,

To search the waters of the world, and call the salmon home.

I go to Welsh classes every Thursday evening at the Welsh Learning Centre, Popeth Cymraeg, at Lenten Pool in Denbigh. Visit their website >here< if you are interested in attending. Classes are taking place via Zoom during the pandemic.

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One Reply to “THE RIVER DEE : FROM SOURCE TO SEA”

  1. In 2003, negotiations with the angling associations owning fishing rights on the Dee broke down. The anglers wanted to restrict the numbers of paddlers on the river when paddling was allowed but the Welsh Canoe Association wanted to renew the previous agreement. In November 2004, a protest about the lack of access on the Dee, and to rivers across England and Wales, was held in Llangollen. Following the failure of the access agreement, the Welsh Canoeing Association advises canoeists to use their own judgement about using the river, which in practice means many canoeists use the river at will from the numerous access points along its banks.

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