Guest poem submitted by Dave Fortin:
(Poem #1489) The Ruin
Nothing but a ruin now Between moorland and meadow, Once the owners saw in you A comely cottage, bright, new, Now roof, rafters, ridge-pole, all Broken down by a broken wall. A day of delight was once there For me, long ago, no care When I had a glimpse of her Fair in an ingle-corner. Beside each other we lay In the delight of that day. Her forearm, snowflake-lovely, Softly white, pillowing me, Proffered a pleasant pattern For me to give in my turn, And that was our blessing for The new-cut lintel and door. Now the wild wind, wailing by, Crashes with curse and with cry Against my stones, a tempest Born and bred in the East, Or south ram-batterers break The shelter that folk forsake. Life is illusion and grief; A tile whirls off, as a leaf Or a lath goes sailing, high In the keening of kite-kill cry. Could it be our couch once stood Sturdily under that wood? Pillar and post, it would seem Now are less than a dream. Are you that, or only the lost Wreck of a fiddle, rune-ghost? "Dafydd, the cross on their graves Marks what little it saves, Says, They did well in their lives."
This is one of my favorite Dafydd ap Gwilym poems. Dafydd is considered to be the best of the medieval Welsh poets, living only from 1340-1370, and is particularly noted for his rhyme schemes and poetic composition. His themes run from the very sexual (he did an ode to his penis) to nature poetry to such pieces as above that focus on the transitoriness of this life. He is carefree, randy and thoughtful all at the same time. The above is my favorite of his more 'thoughtful' works, where he considers the fate of a cottage that he has had a tryst in earlier in life. Given his short life-span, it is remarkable that he writes as an old man in some sense in this poem--the cottage of his earlier pleasures is now a ruin, and perhaps is an allegory of life. The above translation is from the Oxford Book of Welsh Verse in English.