Rhys Iorwerth’s Poem About My Work

One of the biggest surprises on visiting my area of Y Lle Celf 2019 at the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst was finding a poem had been written and displayed alongside the work, about the work. The poem, entitled ‘Annwfn’ – (i waith David W J Lloyd) was composed by the award winning Welsh poet Rhys Iorwerth, and unsurprisingly as it was for the Eisteddfod, is in Welsh.

Below is both the poem, kindly translated by the poet himself following a less than accurate version via Google translate – It’s in the comments for posterity’s sake. I’m really chuffed to bits with it, there’s some lovely ideas in the translated version, and although it won’t have the cadences of the Welsh, there’s a lot of nice stuff there that appeals to my sensibilities.

Several of the pieces were from the ‘In Annwn, Everything Is Fine’ series – when I use Annwn it’s in the sense of the magical otherworld of the Mabinigion. It’s interesting to see the variant spelling that Rhys has used for the title – Annwfn which translates to Hell as opposed to Otherworld – this may just be because the closet translation Google can muster is Hell. In my mind they are very different places, but it may have been for Rhys having to write about it!

In seriousness though, it’s a rare treat to have someone write a creative response to the work I’ve made, and like I said, came as a shock. I’d like to thank Rhys for his response – I saw him interviewed on S4C about his pieces, so was interesting to see how he approached this not being an ‘art connoisseur’. The poem is below!

Original Welsh Version

‘Annwfn’ – (i waith David W J Lloyd)

Â’u hanner chwerthin milain,
bu’r rhain yn fyw erioed
wrth rythu trwy hen chwedlau
o’r caeau ac o’r coed.

Mi gofi af eu hwynebau’n
fy nal mewn llyfrau llun,
a hoelio eto’r sylw
maen nhw, a minnau’n hyn.

Eu gwên mor annaearol,
mor fydol o ddi-fod,
a’u llygaid llawn gwir-celwydd
am ddydd sydd eto i ddod.

Eu hyder hollwybodus,
a’r wys sy’n oer o hen,
a’u gwybod anifeilaidd,
hunllefaidd yn creu llên…

Mae artist tylluanod
tra hynod wedi’u trin.
A minnau wrth eu hoffi ’n
eu hofni trwy fy nhin.

English translation by Rhys Iorwerth

‘Hell’ – (The Work of David W J Lloyd)

With their wicked laugh
they have always been alive to me,
glaring through old myths
from the fields and trees.

I can remember their faces
capturing me in picture books,
and they still fascinate me,
even though I’m older.

Those eerie smiles,
so real in their non-earthliness,
their eyes a truthful falsehood,
foretelling a day yet to come.

Their all-knowing confidence
is a cold, old summons,
and their animalistic knowing
creates a nightmarish literature.

A remarkable owl artist
has formed these creatures.
Even though I am captivated,
I shit myself when I look at them.

2 Comments on Rhys Iorwerth’s Poem About My Work

  1. Hi David – someone has just referred me to this post, and as a professional translator, I totally despise Google Translate. So here’s a better translation (although it’s still literal rather than poetic!). The final line is the biggest stumbling block!!

    With their wicked laugh
    they have always been alive to me,
    glaring through old myths
    from the fields and trees.

    I can remember their faces
    capturing me in picture books,
    and they still fascinate me,
    even though I’m older.

    Those eerie smiles,
    so real in their non-earthliness,
    their eyes a truthful falsehood,
    foretelling a day yet to come.

    Their all-knowing confidence
    is a cold, old summons,
    and their animalistic knowing
    creates a nightmarish literature.

    A remarkable owl artist
    has formed these creatures.
    Even though I am captivated,
    I shit myself when I look at them.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to do that Rhys, the difference between yours and Google’s is, well, vast! For anyone wishing to compare, in the original post I had the Google Translate version, which has now been swapped for poet’s translation. This is the Google one:

    English Version via Google Translate

    ‘Hell’ – (The Work of David W J Lloyd)

    With their half-hearted laugh,
    these have always been alive
    in wandering through old myths
    from the fields and from the trees.

    I will remember their faces
    hold me in picture books,
    and focus again
    they are, and I am older.

    Their smile is so unnatural,
    such a world without being,
    and their eyes full of falsehood
    for a day yet to come.

    Their all-knowing confidence,
    and the cold old summons,
    and know them animals,
    nightmare creates literature…

    An owl artist
    extremely treated.
    And I love them
    fear them through my ass.

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