Ancestors Meditations on Gerallt Lloyd Owen's awdl 'Cilmeri'
Er bod bysedd y beddau Yn deilwriaid doluriau, Cnawd yn co’ nid yw’n cau. Gerallt Lloyd Owen ‘Cilmeri’
Even though the fingers of graves Are tailors of wounds Cut flesh in memory does not close.
Graves are tailors of grief Sowing the seams of sorrow.
The needle slips through, threading The shrouds of memory as it comes and goes.
Shrouded wounds in the mind’s eye Are open despite death’s harrow.
The sword that cuts, resheathed Does not stanch the blood that flows.
The feathered arrow cannot be unstrung As if unsprung from the bent bow.
Though lost, memory remains A trace of perception even so.
Fingers of graves – can these Touch and feel the life within?
Feel, that is, the fabric of life Cut its cloth, revive its skin.
Can the stealth with which they steal Sew up a coat, that could be lived in.
Or are these stitches in time Saving what should be shriven?
Should the scar still show to slow The erosion of memory, or become hidden?
May grief continue to cut, or may it mellow, Fade to resonance or fuel anger when bidden?
Is it the cynghanedd that calls, Creeps over cemetery walls to correlate pain
Where the cement of sorrow seams The bricks that divide from what remains
Of hurts that are history? Interlocked Words building the past in the present again.
Rehearsing the old play, the hearsay Of history recalling its story, it’s old refrain.
Haunting the halls of memory, avoiding Death’s oblivion, believing fames’
Continuum beyond death, continues A life, a legacy re-claimed.
So it’s a stitch-up, these graves Tying the knots of a deed done,
Closing the open sores of grief Tricking it up as a battle won
And lost at the same time: A seal set on a fading horizon
Broken by memory, a mind Re-calling a gaping wound, how blood runs
Through the runnels of history Where the mind’s eye watches. Scum
On the clear pool of a perfect past Clouds, yet reveals, the battle to come.
Llawer llef druan fel ban fu Gamlan […..] Poni welwch chwi hynt y gwynt a’r glaw Poni welwch chwi’r deri’n ymdaraw Poni welwch chwi y môr yn merinaw – ‘r tir? Gruffudd ap yr Ynad Coch ‘Lament for Llywelyn’ (13th C.)
Not since Camlan has there been such weeping […..] Do you not see the way of the wind and the rain Do you not see the oaks clashing Do you not see the the sea scouring the land?
Who counts as ancestors? A prince Of noble blood, his bard, those who cry in fear As the winds smash the trees and the seas crash On a deserted shore? What is entailed
In these words of the thirteenth and the twentieth Centuries recalling a wound that gapes Open-mouthed in the face of the grave’s ministrations Unstitching a death from which there is no escape.
If graves stitch wounds, it is in the mind Only, which is where, also, they remain open. Ancestors are like that, elusive in their points Of reference, but real too when they come again.
Hen bethau anghofiedig teulu dyn Waldo Williams ‘Cofio’
Old, forgotten things of the human family
It’s not in the gene pool that we angle For the heart’s inheritance; the bloodstream Of meaning, the significance we cast for, Is a better catch. Who can untangle
Bloodlines back through the generations Other than the current that is still clear In the many-tributaried river of story, Of song, of the many calibrations
Of who and what we are. Identity Shifts, or is maintained, not in the blood But with allegiance to the life lived In the bonds of belonging, a shared history.
So if the grave opens, if the body Sewn into earth’s fabric unravels And re-forms, if the tale it has to tell Is vivid, and it speaks to us directly
It lives more profoundly than a visiting ghost And we live with it, and it with us, Not haunting our lives but breathing The same air: not hidden but close.