The slow build of a midsummer dawn chorus in Snowdonia, North Wales, interwoven with the sounds of the brooks, streams, and rivers that creep through the hillsides down to the lake by the village: this programme is a tribute to the landscape and past poets of the heart of Snowdonia.
An isolated farmhouse near Trawsfynydd was the birthplace of the iconic Welsh shepherd-poet Hedd Wyn. But there were hundreds more like him in this mountainous corner of Wales: the sons and daughters of tenant farmers, artisans and workers, who left school at 14 but were nurtured by the community, the chapel and the eisteddfod system, and emerged as writers skilled in the craft of strict metre poetry.
They left behind englynion – short poems in restricted syllables (like haiku), that often describe the landscape. Punctuating the serene Trawsfynydd soundscape, we intersperse englynion, by poets from the area, hearing them first in Welsh, and then in English. The poems, written a century ago and further back, draw on ancient traditions, and distil visual images into gems. Hedd Wyn’s most admired is translated as: “I have walked by sweet streams in the nervous wind of the hill pastures, the sunlight a white arm about the old neck of the mountains.”
The impression is of a landscape haunted and re-populated by the poets that were moved during their lifetimes to write about their extraordinary surroundings – land they often worked hard on and tended themselves, and knew intimately.
With readings by poet and musician Gwyneth Glyn