Englynion and Elegy

The englyn (pl englynion) is a traditional early Welsh short poem. These are usually three or four lines in length, strictly based on one of a number of  metrical rules.  Counting syllables or stress forms part of their composition. For this reason the metre is usually lost in translation.

I came across englynion in English initially and was drawn by the concise, often sideways, glance at the subject matter. There are both Welsh and English englynion in my selection. I have tried to choose those with a current relevance.


There is one exception in this collection, the Elegy. Only a part of this long heroic poem on the death of the last Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was selected and that only printed in Welsh. It was through the medium of English that I came across this poem and it resonated with my current feelings of uncertainty and unease (2016). For the Welsh translation I am indebted to Professor Ann Parry Owen of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. This english translation is by Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson.

“Do you not see the course of the wind and the rain?
Do you not see the oak-trees crashing together?
Do you not see the ocean devouring the land?
Do you not see that judgement is being made ready? “