A Poem by Ifor ap Glyn

We celebrate the first week of Wales Readathon 2021 with a poem written by the current National Poet of Wales 

Today I share with you a poem by Ifor ap Glyn, written in 2017 to mark St David’s Day. It is a celebration of the Welsh language, originally penned in Cymraeg.

Born in London in 1961 to Welsh-speaking parents, Ifor ap Glyn graduated from Cardiff University before moving firstly to Denbighshire and then to Caernarfon – where he eventually settled. He has for many years banged the bilingual drum for Welsh poetry around the world, performing at festivals such as the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington DC. He has twice won the prestigious Crown at the National Eisteddfod and from 2008-2009 was Bardd Plant Cymru, the Welsh-language Children’s Laureate. He was named Wales’ National Poet in 2016. 

Umbrella Welsh by Ifor ap Glyn

It rains so often
in our stormy world,
but your spokes always lock
in a hemisphere above my head;
and I can float through our people’s wit,
hanging by one arm beneath your wing.

For some, you simply can’t be opened,
but rolling you tight
lends a Welsh spring
to our step;
and we lift you, like a narrow flag,
to guide visitors to our history,
to an alternate reality, that’s open to all…

You are that brolly,
that melds our world,
as long as you’re jointly held,
– whether open or furled…

Categories: Reading Wales

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19 replies

  1. Mmm… lovely but not sure if I agree with the sentiments of the poem if it is implying that the Welsh language is ‘open to all’. It’s those terrifying mutations that leap out at you in the middle of sentences! Congratulations on the start of the Dewithon. I must join in.

  2. Thanks for the poem, Paula. Would love to see this in Cymraeg too … I know that literary Welsh is a bit different so would be curious to make comparisons.

    • Here’s the Welsh version, Maria. 😊

      Cymraeg Ambarel

      Mae’n bwrw mor aml
      mewn byd drycinog,
      ond mae dy ffyn bob tro yn cloi’n
      gromen berffaith, uwch fy mhen;
      a than dy adain, caf hedfan yn unfraich,
      drwy ddychymyg yr hil.

      I rai, rwyt ti’n ‘cau’n deg ag agor,
      ond o’th rolio’n dynn,
      mi roddi sbonc
      i’n cerddediad fel Cymry;
      ac mi’th godwn yn lluman main
      i dywys ymwelwyr at ein hanes,
      a thua’r byd amgen sydd yno i bawb…

      Tydi yw’r ambarel
      sydd o hyd yn ein cyfannu,
      boed yn ‘gored, neu ynghau
      – dim ond i ni dy rannu….

  3. Hello from Canada, Paula. You have reminded me of my unforgettable visit to Wales in 2013. I have included your link and my comments on Dewithon 2021 in my newsletter Rebecca’s Reading Room. Looking forward to joining you from afar! https://paper.li/Rebeccas-Reading-Room/story/march-5-2021-to-wales-and-back-again-a-book-journey-MtHgrZvvbkLpLQwN02GYl

    • Thank you so much, Rebecca. Much appreciated. 😀

    • Your link doesn’t seem to be working, Rebecca. Has your post moved? 🤔

      • Hello from Vancouver, Canada. Alas, Paula!!! Paperli had a huge disruption (fire in their service provider) and in now in the process of rebuilding the links. This post has been lost so I will be rebuilding the paper in the next week or so. This is the message that our community received: “Dear community members. There has been a major issue at the data center of our service provider which has resulted in a service outage. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience…..”. What has come out of this for me was a knowledge that this community is truly compassionate. The outpouring of support from all corners of the globe has been heartening. In a world of noise and confusion, there are people, like you, who create a space that welcomes, connects and nurtures the create spirit. I would love to interview you on Tea Toast & Trivia Podcast. Take care and stay tuned for an update.

      • I’m so sorry to hear this, Rebecca. All your hard work… Good luck with rebuilding the paper. Thinking of you. 🤗

  4. Wonderful images of a brolly or as it’s sometimes known around these parts, a bumbershoot. And learning about Welsh history from the point of view of the Welsh sounds quite appealing.

  5. Wonderful poem! I’ve just been watching the film Pride, so the togetherness in the poem chimes for me there!

  6. Gorgeous. And ‘furled’ and ‘unfurled’ are among my favourite words!

    • I wonder if it is the fur sound that appeals so much. I imagine a cat unfurling (or uncurling) itself from a tight ball and stretching out in a sunny patch on the carpet. Now I’m getting carried away. ‘scuse I! 🐈


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