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Hedd Wynn: War

War

By Hedd Wynn

Translated by Gillian Clarke

Ellis Humphrey Evans (13 January 1887 – 31 July 1917) was a Welsh language poet, better known under his bardic name Hedd Wyn, who was killed during the battle of Passchendaele in World War I. One of eleven children, he enlisted so that a younger brother would not be conscripted. He was only one month in the trenches of Flanders before he was killed. Six weeks after his death, he was awarded the prestigious chair for poetry at the Welsh National Eisteddfod. Hedd Wyne is regarded as one of the foremost of 20th century Welsh language poets.

Commemorating Hedd Wyn's death at Passchendaele

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 swn 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
Bitter to live in times like these.
While God declines beyond the seas;
Instead, man, king or peasantry,
Raises his gross authority.
When he thinks God has gone away
Man takes up his sword to slay
His brother; we can hear death's roar.
It shadows the hovels of the poor.
Like the old songs they left behind,
We hung our harps in the willows again.
Ballads of boys blow on the wind,
Their blood is mingled with the rain.