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.