Gelli Fach

Gelli Fach

I'm a cell, I'm fragmented, I change my form;
I'm a repository of song, I'm a dynamic state.
I love a wooded slope and a snug shelter,
and a creative poet who doesn't buy his advancement.

Wyf kell, wyf dellt, wyf datweirllet;
wyf llogell kerd, wyf lle ynnyet.
Karaf-y gorwyd a goreil clyt,
a bard a bryt ny pryn y ret.

From: Legendary Poems from the Book of Taliesin, edited and translated by Marged Haycock

Monday, 2 May 2011

May and Canu Haf/Summer Carols

Verses of the Months 

The month of May, the ploughman is extravagant;
every dyke is shelter to the destitute;
joyful is the lightly clad old man;
the wood is leafy, the wanton is glad;
reconciliation is easy where there is love;
tuneful are the cuckoo and the hound;

Mis Mai, difrodus geilwad,
klyd pob klawdd i ddigarad;
llawen hen diarchenad;
hyddail koed, hyfryd anllad;
hawdd kymod lle bo kariad;
llafar koc a bytheiad;

Welsh, c. 15th century

Canu Haf/Summer Carols

The Middle English word 'carol ' comes from Old French 'carole', meaning 'a dance in a ring' or a 'joyous song' and it wasn't until 1502 that it was first noted to mean a Christmas hymn. Summer carols seem to have been more popular in Wales than in England and were sung in houses as well as churches and chapels; some of the old carols call on friends and neighbours to sing together a song of thanksgiving for summer days.

Here's a summer carol called Mwynder Mai/the Sweetness of May. The tune was first published in The Welsh Harper in1848.  T. Gwynn Jones wrote a song to go with it:

(I've just realised that the second note should be a C and not a D!  Unfortunately I don't have the software to change it any more. Click to enlarge.)

The Sweetness of May

The wizard of May is out riding unseen,
He captures the land with a network of green;
Soft waves of bright sunlight sweep over the leas,
And summer-time songbirds make merry the trees.

Though summer must languish and winter be long,
Though brief be the season of sunshine and song,
Though sorrow still tarries when happiness dies,
Sweet May is the promise of God's Paradise.

Mwynder Mai

Daw dewin y Mai heb ei weled, fin nos,
Gan wasgar ei liwiau ar weirglodd a rhos;
Bydd heulwen y bore yn dawsnio ar dwyn,
A daw ar adenydd lawenydd i lwyn.

Er oered fo'r eira, er garwed fo'r gwynt,
Er byrred ei rwysg fydd yr haf ar ei hynt,
Mewn byd sy mor gymysg o fethiant neu fai,
Rhyw awr o Baradwys yw mwynder Mai.

Written and translated by T. Gwynn Jones


  1. Yes May is a sweet month.

    But this year it seems to have begun in April!

  2. Maybe that's because December started in November!