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

Saturday, 1 January 2011

January and the Festival of Pongal

The month of January, the valley is smoky,
the cupbearer is weary, the wandering bard is in distress,
the raven is thin, the hum of bees is rare,
the byre is empty, the kiln is cold…

Mis Jonawr, myglyd dyffryn,
blin trulliad, trallawd klerddyn,
kul bran, anaml llais gwenyn,
gwac buches, diwres odyn…

Verses of the Months, Welsh c.15th century


To everyone experiencing winter – and especially those who cannot at present find summer inside themselves – here’s a beautiful and rather uplifting video to give you a vision of a warmer land on another part of our beautiful Earth- as well as some food for thought. In it Carl Sagan speculates about the nature of the universe and the gods, accompanied by images of the festival of Pongal.

The festival of Pongal comes from the South of India, especially Tamil Nadu. It is linked to the agricultural cycle and celebrates the first harvest at the time when the days are becoming longer. It is an auspicious time and a time of new beginnings. People offer a special thanksgiving to Surya, the sun god; rain; the earth and cattle – all of which play a part in enabling the harvest. Pongal comes from the word ponga which means ‘to boil’ and pongal means ‘spillover’ or 'that which is overflowing’. It is also the name of the sweet rice which is the special food of the festival. So as we experience our time of scarcity, another part of our planet experiences a time of abundance.

During the Pongal festival, people wear new clothes and throw discarded articles on the fire. In a few short months the earth will have turned again in its cycle and the sun will bless us once more. What would you like to discard with the old year and what seeds would you like to nurture until the earth turns and spring returns to the north?

May the sun radiate peace, happiness and prosperity into your life in 2011.


  1. That was an interesting clip, Hilaire, cosmic dreams!

    I like your 'verses of the month' idea. I'll look forward to these.

  2. Happy new year Hillaire, may you be blessed, with love, health and inspiration in 2011 xj

  3. Greg, yes, cosmic dreams - divine dreams even!

    Thanks for your blessing, Jasmine!

    A very happy and fulfilling new year to you both.

  4. Happy New Year Hilaire, I hope it will be filled with good things for you. The January verse is wonderful and so descriptive, it reminds us just how harsh were the medieval winters.

  5. May the new year be filled with good things for you too, Rowan.

    The January verse is my favourite of the sequence.

  6. It's me again! I've been trying to locate these verses online with no success whatever - you couldn't tell me where they came from could you? I must admit I'd rather like to use one or two on my own blog at some point.

  7. No, I don't think the verses are online in the English version. (The Welsh is here They are in Studies in Early Celtic Nature Poetry by Kenneth Jackson, LLanerch Press.

    If you like, I could try and scan them and email them to you?

  8. Hello Hilaire - if it wpouldn't be too much trouble I'd really appreciate that. Hope you aren't having any problems with flooding, I gather that Wales is getting a great deal of heavy rain this weekend.

  9. What a beautiful blog you have here Hilaire. Bo/Megli

  10. I'm really pleased you think so! Thank you for visiting.