LLYM AWEL, verse 8: Improvisations.
Ottid eiry, tohid istrad;
Diuryssini vy keduir y cad;
Mi nid aw; anaw ni’m gad.
Falling snow, the wide valley covered;
They hasten, the warriors to war;
Myself, I do not go; a wound does not allow.
‘Istrad’ is not any vague ‘valley’, but an open, level or wide part of a valley floor, ( ‘dale’ or ‘strath’ are modern translations, suggesting gentle, cultivated land), distinguishing it from a steep or narrow-walled valley (cwm, combe, dingle, dell,)
‘Tohid’ could be ‘blanketed’, or ‘covered’. ‘Blanketed’ sounds too soft and benign, ‘smothered’ too dramatic. I’ve settled for ‘covered’ , though it seems a little pedestrian.
‘Keduir’ ( kedwir) are warriors, ‘cad’ is battle, but ‘warriors’ and ‘war’ is, perhaps, a better echo of the original sounds and semantics.
Each line ends with the same rhyme: istrad/cad/gad. The last line has a nice reflection in ‘..nid aw; anaw ni’m..’
There seems to be a disconnection between first and second lines. We are left wondering :what is the context? Is the landscape description simply to provide a scene through which the warriors move? Does it reflect the two events: a blanket of snow paralysing the fertile valley floor, the descent of the war-band on hapless neighbours? Is the snowfall a cover for an unexpected, aggressive assault?
There is a clear suggestion of the quiet, open space and silence of the valley contrasted with the fast moving, tightly animated, urgent group of warriors.
The stillness and emptiness of the landscape is echoed in the last line by the helplessness of the narrator left behind as his companions depart. Though there is no suggestion whether the narrator feels guilt or relief, we can see the view of the wide, empty snow-filled valley floor as a correlate for his physical, emotional and mental state.
Falling snow is valley’s shroud.
A warrior’s heart is vast and cold.
With skilled companions, open to chance,
Brave and proud.
A blizzard roar sweeping away all.
Unfathomable is the mind of a mountain;
The language of clouds: not easy to read,
a mystery sung by rivers.
The silence in waiting long.
Unkind the distance between here
And good company.
Vast and empty is the future
We fill with hope.
Empty and shelterless
Is the valley void of laughter.
Wide, white and shrouded
Is the green glory of the young.
Each year these wounds
And the memories of wounds
Pile up to muffle song.
A keening wind will bring tears,
Even to the strong.
Halt and bold,
Blood-smeared will be the footsteps
Of those who return.
The lines of those before us,
All aches smoothed over,
The wide, vast future
Brought sharp to a point:
One moment whole,
One moment severed.
Reduced to dream,
All echoes dying away.
The groans of ice.
Frost-cracked, the stones split,
Gape skywards toothless:
The road and door
To other worlds.
Left lame, useless,
Watching slow snow fall.
Hands without strength,
An empty mind trudges distances.
Goalless, remote, the hollow eyes.
A dry and empty cup.
The minds of mountains
And their clouds
Weep and rejoice.
Glory of sunlight