The names Passchendaele, the Somme and Mametz Wood stand as grim sentinels, perpetually sure to the unimaginable carnage of the primary world struggle. Almost 500,000 males had been killed in three months at Passchendaele, the third battle of Ypres. On the primary day of that battle, Wales misplaced one among its most proficient poets.
Born on January 13 1887, Ellis Humphrey Evans was the eldest youngster of Mary and Evan Evans and one among 11 siblings. He grew to become identified by his bardic identify, Hedd Wyn (Blessed Peace). The household lived and labored at a distant farm exterior Trawsfynydd in north-west Wales, known as Yr Ysgwrn.
Evan Evans purchased his son a e book on the principles of strict-metre Welsh verse when Hedd Wyn was 11 years previous. He learn the e book with ardour and enthusiasm, and shortly mastered the tough and complicated guidelines of strict-metre verse, often known as cynghanedd.
He wrote his first ever englyn (a brief four-lined poem in strict-metre) earlier than his twelfth birthday. Soon after, he started competing at native eisteddfodau, Welsh cultural festivals which showcase literary and creative endeavours.
Hedd Wyn spent most of his quick life at residence. He obtained little formal education. His training was spasmodic and he was often absent from college when the climate was unhealthy, as there was a considerable distance between the college and his residence.
Hedd Wyn was a clumsy farmer and shepherd, however he beloved taking care of the sheep out on the mountain pastures, although solely as a result of the solitude and silence gave him ample alternative to meditate and to put in writing poetry.
And then got here struggle. Hedd Wyn’s destiny, together with hundreds of others, was sealed when parliament handed the Military Service Act in 1916. This new laws imposed conscription and was geared toward single males or widowers.
Hedd Wyn had no selection however to enlist. He joined the fifteenth battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and by July 1917, he was stationed at Fléchin, a small village in northern France.
He and hundreds of different troopers had been to take part in one of many main engagements of the struggle, the third battle of Ypres, in any other case often known as the battle of Passchendaele. British troops had been to occupy the village of Pilkem on Pilkem Ridge, and the marshlands to the east of Ypres earlier than advancing in direction of Langemarck. Capturing the village of Pilkem and Pilkem Ridge, and holding each positions, was one of many foremost goals of this huge marketing campaign.
It was throughout a interval of intense preventing on Iron Cross Ridge on July 31 that Hedd Wyn was mortally wounded.
The National Eisteddfod
For a Welsh poet, profitable the coveted chair on the National Eisteddfod, an annual pageant celebrating arts, language and tradition, represents the top of accomplishment. The chair is awarded to the profitable entrant within the competitors for the awdl – poetry written in strict-metre cynghanedd . A crown is awarded individually to these writing in free verse.
Chairing ceremonies are presided over by the archdruid, who reads the adjudicators’ feedback earlier than asserting the nom de plume of the profitable bard. Nobody is aware of the true id of the poet till the archdruid asks them to face.
Before enlisting, Hedd Wyn had began engaged on an awdl for the chair on the 1917 National Eisteddfod. Due to the struggle, the Eisteddfod that 12 months was held in England for the primary time, in Birkenhead close to Liverpool. Hedd Wyn had nearly gained the chair the earlier 12 months in Aberystwyth.
While stationed in France, he lastly accomplished his awdl titled Yr Arwr (The Hero) and posted it to Birkenhead beneath his nom de plume, Fleur-de-lis. He was engaged on the poem till the final attainable minute.
A packed crowd was watching the chairing ceremony in Birkenhead in early September, and amongst them was the prime minister on the time, David Lloyd George, himself a Welsh speaker. Without realizing he had died of his wounds a number of weeks earlier, the adjudicators had unanimously awarded the chair to Hedd Wyn.
As is customary, the archdruid known as out Fleur-de-lis 3 times. But no person stood up. Then he solemnly introduced that the poet had been killed in battle six weeks earlier. The empty chair was draped in black in entrance of an emotional crowd. The 1917 eisteddfod grew to become often known as Eisteddfod y Gadair Ddu (the Eisteddfod of the Black Chair).
Hedd Wyn’s legacy
A quantity of Hedd Wyn’s poetry, entitled Cerddi’r Bugail (The Shepherd’s Verses), was revealed a 12 months later. The first 1,000 copies had been offered in 5 days. Eventually each copy of the 4,000 first version was offered.
In 1923, a statue, depicting Hedd Wyn as a shepherd, the work of artist L. S. Merrifield, was unveiled by his mom in Trawsfynydd.
On St David’s Day 2012, Wales’ then first minister, Carwyn Jones, introduced that Hedd Wyn’s residence, Yr Ysgwrn, had been purchased for the nation, to safe and safeguard the poet’s legacy. Two years later, it was renovated and became a museum by the Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.
Hedd Wyn was a extremely proficient poet who wrote beautiful work. His englyn in reminiscence of his buddy, Lieutenant D. O. Evans of Blaenau Ffestiniog, for instance, grew to become an elegy for all of the younger males who had fallen on the killing fields of the Great War:
Ei aberth nid â heibio – ei wyneb
Annwyl nid â’n ango
Er i’r Almaen ystaenio
Ei dwrn dur yn ei waed o.
It will be translated as:
His sacrifice was not in useless, his expensive
Face will at all times stay,
Although he left a bloodstain
On Germany’s iron fist of ache.
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Alan Llwyd doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that will profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.