BBC Radio 4: National Poetry Day

IAN MCMILLAN AND THE POETRY OF BRITAIN:
A PEREGRINATION
Cardiff

Ian meets the Wesh language poet Fflur Dafydd, writer in residence on Bardsey Island where there are scarcely any permanent residents. She reads a new poem commissioned by the BBC about this.
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Enlli
by
Fflur Dafydd

That crown you're wearing is just your halo
Turned upside down
Nanci Griffith

I

Bu yma frenin unwaith;
Ei aur yn ffrwd dros donnau'r lli
A'i dlysau'n hallt mewn gwythiennau

Bu yma frenin unwaith;
Ei gorun gwyn yn goron amdano,
A'i dlysau'n hallt mewn gwythiennau

Do, bu yma frenin unwaith.
A hwyrach ei fod yma o hyd,
Dan amdo'r ewyn;
Ei eiriau'n oer ar wely'r mor.

II

Bu yma frenhinoedd eraill, hefyd
a'u herwau yn donnau du
wrth droed y nos enfawr.
Daeth terfyn sydyn arnynt,
yn eu lle death golau bach
A'i ben moel, di-goron
Na ildiai'r un gwres

Ond nid peth thydd yw goleudy,
darlun triphlyg sy'n
Newid
Newid
Newid
Dim ond I aros yr un fath,
Heb fedru cau llygaid,
Na theimlo amrant trwm yn disgyn

Mond edrych, o hyd, I fyw
Y deyrnas gysglyd
A'r duwch di-freuddwyd.

III

Ac am gyfnod, fy nheyrnas I ydoedd.
Cysgodd hon
yn forwyn ufudd
wrth fy ymyl,
ac yn ei llygaid cau
gwelwn wynion y ser
a chlywed yn ei hanadl
synau'r byd bach yn symud:
tafodau coch canhwyllau,
siffrwd y llenni brau
tro cymrain lle nad oes clo.

IV

Do, bu yno frenin unwaith,
Ei aur yn ffrwd dros donnau'r lli,
Ei osgordd yn fur, a'r deyrnas yn fyd ynddo'I hun.

Ac y mae yma frenhinoedd, fe fu ac fe fudd,
A'r aur yn drwm rhyngom ni a'r lli
Yr osgordd yn fur, a'r deyrnas yn fyd ynddo'i hun.

Ond unwaith, fe fumy no:
dros dywyllch,
trwy'r glesni,
i'r man
lle mae brenhiniaeth
yn ddi-dras

yr erw werdd sy'n geg I gyd,
lle gall atgof
Fagu teyrnas.
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(English translation)

I

There was a king here once;
His gold dusting the shore,
His kingdom broken-in, awaiting no-one.

There was a king here once
His white crown a worthy title
The jewels salt-fresh in his veins.

There was a king here once,
And there may be still,
Under the foaming sheet,
His words cold on the sea's bed.

II

Other kings came and went,

Though their robes were darker,
Rulers only of the black waves
At the foot of the tall night.
Even they, in time, were not needed,
Replaced by a bald, crownless bulb
That gave no warmth.

A lighthouse is not a free thing.
It is forever bound to its trilogy
Turning
Turning
Turning
And is yet unmoving
Never able to close its eyes
And feel the steady, heavy fall of lid.

It must look on
to the sleeping kingdom
And the dreamless dark.

III

Once, if had been my own kingdom.
At night,
it would lay aside my armor
and lay beside me
as a dutiful maid
in her eyes
I would see the whites of stars
and in her breath
the sound of the small world awakening
the red tongues of candlelight,
the murmur of curtains
the safe click where there is no lock.

IV

Yes, there was a king here once,
His gold dusting the shore,
His kingdom broken-in, awaiting no-one.

But there are kings here, and may always be
There gold clutters the shore
and the kingdom waits for no-one.

Yet once, it was possible
To pierce the dark
Wade through the blue
to feel that there is one place
where a kingdom is rootless;

That green acre that is all mouth
Where only memory,
Claims the land.
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Fflur Dafydd

Fflur Dafydd won the Prose Medal for Literature at the National Urdd Eisteddfod in 1999 and became the first holder of the R S Thomas scholarship.

She graduated from the University of Wales Aberystwyth and studied from an MA in Creative Writing at the Univeristy of East Anglia.

Fflur was the resident writer at Ynys Enlli - Bardsey Island - in the summer last year. She is now working on a collection of short stories about this.

As well as a writer, she is also a musician and the editor of the Welsh-language periodical Tu Chwith.

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[http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/
natpoetday/2003_cardiff.shtml
]