The Winter by Dafdd ap Gwilym


The Winter
by Dafdd ap Gwilym 

Across North Wales
The snowflakes wander,
A swarm of white bees.
Over the woods
A cold veil lies.
A load of chalk
Bows down the trees.

No undergrowth
Without its wool,
No field unsheeted;
No path is left
Through any field;
On every stump
White flour is milled.

Will someone tell me
What angels lift
Planks in the flour-loft
Floor of heaven
Shaking down dust?
An angel’s cloak
Is cold quicksilver.

And here below
The big drifts blow,
Blow and billow
Across the heather
Like swollen bellies.
The frozen foam
Falls in fleeces.

Out of my house
I will not stir
For any girl
To have my coat
Look like a miller’s
Or stuck with feathers
Of eider down.

What a great fall
Lies on my country!
A wide wall, stretching
One sea to the other,
Greater and graver
Than the sea’s graveyard.
When will rain come?

PHOTO: Wales in winter. Photo by Pixabay. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dafydd ap Gwilym (c. 1315/1320 – c. 1350/1370) is regarded as one of the leading Welsh poets and among the great poets of Europe in the Middle Ages.  It is believed that about 170 of his poems have survived, though many others have been attributed to him over the centuries. He was an innovative poet whose greatest innovation was to make himself the main focus of his poetry. Most of the traditional Welsh court poets kept their personalities far from their poetry, the primary purpose of which was to sing the praises of their patrons. Dafydd’s work, in contrast, is full of his own feelings and experiences, and he is a key figure in this transition from a primarily social poetic tradition into one in which the poet’s own vision and art is given precedence.

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