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Remembered Today:

Welsh War Poet Hedd Wyn


MichaelBully
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From THE HERO

I sang to the long hope of my life

And the magic of the inspiration of youth;

The passion of the wind and the scent

Of the lighting of the path

ahead were in my poem.

My muse was a deep cry

And all the ages to come will hear it,

And my rewards were grievous violence;

And a world that is

One long bare winter without respite.

1633008705_6f313cec45.jpg

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Thanks for posting Seadog, I must start looking out for his work.

Found a little bit more on You Tube, BBC Wales.

Regards

Michael Bully

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Michael, if you visit Gathering the Jewels and search on Hedd Wyn, you'll find some interesting material including his handwritten drafts. The site is offline, so I can't provide a specific link. Casglu'r Tlysau / Gathering the Jewels is a fantastic resource for Welsh culture and heritage.

Try Casgliad y Werin Cymru / People's Collection Wales.

The piece quoted by Seadog is a translation into English. Ellis Evans (Hedd Wyn) wrote in Welsh. Search on Yr Arwr and you'll find material some of which is in English.

The film Hedd Wyn (subtitled in English) is very effective in conveying the shadow falling on this talented, sensitive young Welsh man and his community. I have a video, but there is now a DVD from Sain. (Sain focusses on Welsh culture.)

Gwyn

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Not only the poetry, but there's a 1994 movie Hedd Wyn about his life and death. It garnered an Oscar nomination as best foreign-language film. Some DVDs available on Amazon & eBay at present, but unless you understand the Language of Heaven make sure the version you buy has English subtitles!

I think the trench scenes were shot at Templeton Airfield in Pembrokeshire, which was dug up for the occasion.

Clive

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Thanks for you help Gwyn and Clive. Am intrigued to read more about Hedd Wyn.

Not listed on the War Poets Association website which is a shame. But will carry on searching . Regards, Michael Bully

http://www.warpoets.org/

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Thanks to everyone for the interesting information and links. Someone else to be interested in - arghh...

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Killed on the same day as Hedd Wyn and also buried in Artillery Wood War Cemetery is Francis Ledwidge the Irish War Poet

http://en.wikipedia....rancis_Ledwidge

A detail from the memorial to the Irish Poet which is situated near Artillery Wood War Cemetery in Flanders

"He shall not hear

The Bittern cry

In the wild sky

Where he is lain"

4401050186_64c6d3dc10_z.jpg

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I don't think that Hedd Wyn would be happy with being known as a "war" poet. He was a poet, who was forced to go to war under conscription. As a starred man on a farm, he chose to become a conscripted soldier to prevent his far younger brother from enlisting, as the tribunal had stated that only one brother could remain at Yr Ysgwrn. He was very close to pacifism, and I believe that he intended to join RAMC as a non-fighting enlisted conscript. He had no affinity with the 15th RWF in any way and was drafted in to fill the casualty lists. His chosen bardic name Hedd Wyn would be translated as Sacred (gwynfa) Peace (hedd). His family were well aware of his thoughts, and when public subscription enabled a statue to be raised for him, they had the bard's likeness created as a civilian shepherd and not depicted in uniform as a fallen soldier.

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Super, insightful observations, Geraint.

The memorial statue of Hedd Wyn is pictured on Casgliad yr Werin here.

Casliad yr Werin Cymru / The People's Collection Wales tweet as @CasgliadyrWerin (bilingual) and are interesting to follow.

Gwyn

PS Whoever did the visual mess up for Ledwidge should be embarrassed.

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Fascinating, thanks for posting Geraint, Had not realised this. Regards, Michael Bully

I don't think that Hedd Wyn would be happy with being known as a "war" poet. He was a poet, who was forced to go to war under conscription. As a starred man on a farm, he chose to become a conscripted soldier to prevent his far younger brother from enlisting, as the tribunal had stated that only one brother could remain at Yr Ysgwrn. He was very close to pacifism, and I believe that he intended to join RAMC as a non-fighting enlisted conscript. He had no affinity with the 15th RWF in any way and was drafted in to fill the casualty lists. His chosen bardic name Hedd Wyn would be translated as Sacred (gwynfa) Peace (hedd). His family were well aware of his thoughts, and when public subscription enabled a statue to be raised for him, they had the bard's likeness created as a civilian shepherd and not depicted in uniform as a fallen soldier.

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A little bit more , 'Guardian' coverage ( not completely accurate)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/from-the-archive-blog/2011/jul/29/hedd-wyn-eisteddfod-1917

The life of Hedd Wyn was also the subject of a children's book

'The Black Chair' by Phi Carradice, which came out in 2009.

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/phil+carradice/the+black+chair/6575922/

Regards, Michael Bully

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One of my two have been studying him in college and we were talking about him only last week. I was surprised to see his name come up here so soon after talking about him. I hadn't heard of him until last week's discussion. I will ask them tomorrow but interesting that you say he might not be pleased about being regarded as a war poet because I have a feeling that it might have been related to the war...It can be a little confusing here as one is studying literature covering WW1 & the other is studying history - WW1.

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Yes it is a great thread ! Has really got me thinking about the whole category of 'War Poets' . Isaac Rosenberg arguably joined up for economic reasons, rather than say like Sassoon who volunteered immediately. Perhaps we should be careful in categorising both Rosenberg and Hedd Wyn as 'War poets' as if they were somehow endorsing their War service as keen volunteers.

Regards, Michael Bully

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More on the conversion of 'Hedd Wyn's' house into a museum:

http://www.bbc.co.uk...-wales-20347242

I understand from my local connections that the house received a lot of visitors even when it was still a family home. There is an interesting display in the small museum and visitor centre in the nearby village of Trawsfynydd and a statue of Hedd Wyn which unfortunately has lost its shepherd's crook . Last year I took my two young Welsh-speaking grand-daughters to see his grave at Artillery Wood and the elder (6 at the time) read one of his poems there. I'm starting them early.

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Yes it is a great thread ! Has really got me thinking about the whole category of 'War Poets' . Isaac Rosenberg arguably joined up for economic reasons, rather than say like Sassoon who volunteered immediately. Perhaps we should be careful in categorising both Rosenberg and Hedd Wyn as 'War poets' as if they were somehow endorsing their War service as keen volunteers.

Regards, Michael Bully

Virtually all the "War Poets" were first and foremost poets, and soldiers a long way second - indeed if the war had not kicked-off in 1914 it's hard to imagine any of them becoming soldiers (despite the undoubted martial ability many displayed at the front). To re-categorise any of them is, in my opinion, akin to ignoring the reality of history i.e. without the wartime context the overwhelming majority (perhaps all) would be condemned to obscurity - the war was a formidable muse for many of them, and is still the catalyst that maintains interest in them today.

Cheers-salesie.

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Good points made Salesie. I will have to ponder a little bit more before responding in full but initial response would be to think that a 'war poet' category would have to take into account:

Firstly has the poet concerned fought in or been killed in the Great War ?

Secondly how much has their creative output and later reputation been connected to their experience during the Great War?

Thirdly on what basis was their participartion in the Great War.?

But even then I suppose there are flaws in the definition: Robert Graves was a War Poet but is perhaps best known for his work which is not necessarily based on the Great War. Seigfried Sassoon and Edmund Blunden wrote far more than Great War poetry and memoir but are most remembered for their Great War related output.

Regards, Michael Bully

Virtually all the "War Poets" were first and foremost poets, and soldiers a long way second - indeed if the war had not kicked-off in 1914 it's hard to imagine any of them becoming soldiers (despite the undoubted martial ability many displayed at the front). To re-categorise any of them is, in my opinion, akin to ignoring the reality of history i.e. without the wartime context the overwhelming majority (perhaps all) would be condemned to obscurity - the war was a formidable muse for many of them, and is still the catalyst that maintains interest in them today.

Cheers-salesie.

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Ellis, Hedd Wyn's nephew was a plant operator at the power station at Trawsfynydd where I once worked and if Hedd Wyn was anything like Ellis he would have been a lot less formal and quite a character as to what we seem to imagine Hedd Wyn to be.

Ellis was late for work one morning and his excuse was that he had placed his false teeth in a glass of water the night before and they were frozen solid that morning,as they had no electricity at The Ysgwrn at that time.

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  • 1 month later...

Have just tracked down the entry on Hedd Wyn at Welsh Biography Online: http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/index.html

He is listed under Evans, Ellis Humphrey, so I had to use the Quick Search box to find him.

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Have learnt a lot from this topic and grateful to those who posted. Also got me pondering the term 'war poet' and how useful it is,especially as I stated 'war poet' in the original heading.

I agree that Hedd Wyn probably would not have liked being called a 'war poet' , same could be said for Isaac Rosenberg. But I have to admit that it if wasn't for the Great War connection I might never have got to know of their work.

Regards

Michael Bully

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My Uncle is called Heddwyn, named after the poet I assume.

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Michael

You may also be interested to know that Hedd Wyn's death led to a fine body of poetry by various poets eulogising and lamenting his death. The circumstances of the eisteddfod chair, as well as the circumstances of his death obviously gave bards a very rich source of inspiration. One chain of englynion (close alliterative formal meter 4 line verses) verge on the sublime in providing an elegy to him. They were written by R Williams Parry, who due to myopia was an army clerk during the war, and was an immense academic at Bangor University during the interwar years.

From memory

Y bardd trwm tan bridd tramor - y dwylaw

Na ddidolir rhagor,

Y llygaid dwys tan ddwys ddor

Y llygaid na all agor.

Wedi ei fyw mae dy fywyd- dy rawd

Wedi ei rhedeg hefyd.

Daeth awr i fynd i'th weryd

A daeth i ben teithio byd.

Tyner yw'r lleuad heno- tros fawnog

Trawsfynydd yn dringo.

Tithau'n drist a than dy ro

Ger y ffos ddu'n gorffwyso

This dying bard under a foreign soil - The hands

That no longer succour the flocks.

Those deep eyes under foreign soil.

Those eyes that no longer give us vision.

Your life has done it's living -Your destiny done

Your lifespirit perished.

Your fate now is the grave;

The exploration of youth is not for you.

The moonlight shines bright on the moorlands

And waxes over Trawsfynydd.

Though you, dark corpse in stinking mud,

Repose in the dark trench dead.

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Lovely post, Geraint. Is it your translation? Welsh poetry needs to be heard for the intricacy of its interwoven sounds.

I believe my dad used to see R(obert) Williams Parry sometimes walking about the family's village - I think Parry's wife was from Rhosllanerchrugog.

Gwyn

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