Week 284: Dychwelyd, by T.H. Parry-Williams

T.H. Parry-Williams (1887-1975) was one of the major figures in a great flowering of Welsh poetry in the first half of the last century, and this is one of his best-known sonnets, a popular choice for recitation at Eisteddfods.

The translation that follows is my own.


Ni all terfysgoedd daear byth gyffroi
distawrwydd nef; ni sigla lleisiau’r llawr
rymuster y tangnefedd sydd yn toi
diddim diarcholl yr ehangder mawr;
ac ni all holl drybestod dyn a byd
darfu’r tawelwch nac amharu dim
ar dreigl a thro’r pellterau sydd o hyd
yn gwneuthur gosteg â’u chwyrnellu chwim.
Ac am nad ydyw’n byw ar hyd y daith,
o gri ein geni hyd ein holaf gŵyn,
yn ddim ond crych dros dro neu gysgod craith
ar lyfnder esmwyth y mudandod mwyn,
ni wnawn, wrth ffoi am byth o’n ffwdan ffôl,
ond llithro i’r llonyddwch mawr yn ôl.

T.H. Parry-Williams


No earthly riot that we make can mar
The peace of heaven; there is no voice here
With power to match its tranquil might and jar
That endless perfect overarching sphere.
Not all our human tumult here below
Can break the seal of silence, nor surprise
Whatever moves the stars to come and go
Forever spiralling on soundless skies.
For all our life, from cradle to the grave,
From infant’s cry to our last agony,
Is but a shadow-wound, a passing wave
Which leaves no scar on that smooth silent sea,
As from this earthly fuss we find release
To meld once more with everlasting peace.

3 thoughts on “Week 284: Dychwelyd, by T.H. Parry-Williams

  1. Diolch am drosi fy hoff ddarn o farddoniaeth mewn ffordd mor gelfydd
    Thanks for the fabulous translation of my favourite poem

    • Diolch yn fawr! Just been working on my own translation of his ‘Ty’r Ysgol’, which I really like too, so might get round to featuring that one soon.

  2. It’s a short poem but there’s three attempts to describe “heaven”. It’s a “perfect overarching sphere”. It’s “Whatever moves the stars …”. It’s a “smooth silent sea”. I find this confusing. It distracts me from what I take to be the poem’s (repeated) main point (“No earthly riot … can mar / The peace of heaven”).

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