Hedd Wyn

Nov. 12th, 2008 06:47 pm
mirrorshard: (Default)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
In the Welsh village where I grew up, there's a statue of Hedd Wyn, who was awarded a chair at the 1917 Eisteddfod in Birkenhead. The chair was given posthumously, swathed in black, because he died just before Passchendaele less than two months after sailing for France.

He described Belgium like this - "Heavy weather, heavy soul, heavy heart. That is an uncomfortable Trinity, isn't it. I never saw a land more beautiful in spite of the curse that has landed upon it. The trees are as beautiful as the dreams of old kings".

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers have a picture of him (the same one that hung on the wall in my school) and a biography here, not far from Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon. (They served in the 2nd Battalion - Evans was in the 15th.)

His real name was Ellis Evans - "Hedd Wyn" was his bardic name. ("Wyn" is variously translated as White, Shining, or Holy. "Hedd" means "Peace".)

This is the manuscript of his chair-winning poem Yr Arwr - here's the text in Welsh. It uses the metaphor of Prometheus, and the title translates as "The Hero". As far as I can tell, there's no English translation yet.

This is the Black Chair, which came to symbolise all the chairs sitting empty in Welsh farmhouses. I've sat in it - I was too young really to appreciate the significance, but I felt the honour.
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