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

Thursday, 7 April 2011

April, Hares and St Melangell

Leaping Hare: original limited edition print  © Jenny Fell
prints and cards available from the artist

from The Verses of the Months

The month of April, the upland is misty,
the oxen are weary, the earth is bare,
feeble is the stag, playful the long-eared (hare);

Mis Ebrill, wybraidd gorthir,
lluddedig ychen, llwm tir,
gwael hydd, gwareus clusthir...

Verses of the Months, Welsh c.15th century

excerpt from Pilgrimage to Melangell's Healing Centre by Noragh Jones

Third day -  arriving at Melangell's shrine and Cancer Help Centre, nestling at the head of a green valley. The church stands in a pre-christian circular enclosure. There was a healing well nearby, but now it's been fenced off and privatised by a new owner.

This is the end of my solitary pilgrimage. I meet friends and talk too much the way you do when you've been alone. Then we catch ourselves out and sit quietly in the church for an hour - praying or not praying according to our lights.

On the oak rood screen Melangell is saving a hare from the Prince of Powys's hunting party. All around the church are carvings of happy hares finding sanctuary under the saint's cloak. (The locals call hares wyn bach Melangell - Melangell's lambs).

I read in the visitor's book a moving record of hundreds of pilgrims who have come here and found the help they needed - to go on living or to face dying. I am lost for words. I go and sit in silence at Melangell's shrine.

ar ei allor                                   (on her shrine
hen gath yn eisted                       an ancient cat sits
ac yn canu grwndi                       purring)

Later we go out into the churchyard. The yew trees they say are two thousand years old. Their broken trunks bleed red sap. But they go on offering shelter to whoever comes - faith or no faith.

rym ni'n cymry ein tro                 (we take it in turns
profi tragwyddoldeb                     trying on eternity
yn yrywen gau                               in the hollow yew)

From Stone Circles: Haiku and Haiku Prose by Noragh Jones;