BY DAFYDD AP GWILYM
It seemed as if we did not sleep
One wink that night; I was sighing deep.
The cruellest judge in the costliest court
Could not condemn a night so short.
We had the light out, but I know,
Each time I turned, a radiant glow
Suffused the room, and shining snow
Alit from Heaven’s candle-fires
Illuminated our desires.
But the last time I held her, strong,
Excited, closest, very long,
Something started to go wrong.
The edge of dawn’s despotic veil
Showed at the eastern window-pale
And there it was,—the morning light!
Gwen was seized with a fearful fright,
Became an apparition, cried,
“Get up, go now with God, go hide!
“Love is a salt, a gall, a rue,
A vinegar-vintage. Dos y Ddw,
Vaya con Dios, quickly, too!”
“Ah, not yet, never yet, my love;
The stars and moon still shine above.”
“Then why do the raucous ravens talk
With such a loud insistent squawk?”
“Crows always cry like that, when fleas
Nibble their ankles, nip their knees.”
“And why do the dogs yip, yammer, yell?”
“They think they’ve caught a fox’s smell.”
“Poet, the wisdom of a fool
Offers poor counsel as a rule.
Open the door, open it wide
As fast as you can, and leap outside.
The dogs are fierce when they get untied.”
“The woods are only a bound from here,
And I can outjump a deer, my dear!”
“But tell me, best beloved of men,
Will you come again? Will you come again?”
“Gwen, you know I’m your nightingale,
And I’ll be with you, without fail,
When the cloud is cloak, and the dark is sky,
And when the night comes, so will I.”
Prolific 14th-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym is considered by many to be one of the greatest Welsh-language poets. Though what is most of what is known about his life is gathered from his poetry, it is thought that he was born in the village of Brogynin, Penrhyncoch, Wales, to an aristocratic family, and that during his life he traveled throughout Wales.
Trained in the Welsh bardic tradition, . . .