Melin Trefin … centenary

… The stone at rest that watches the place
in the thrashing rain and the wind

Two years ago, I wrote about the poet William Williams Crwys, and his much-loved poem Melin Trefin.  See my original article Trefin Mill which was prompted by the visit of fellow poet Chris Hemingway to Trefin in 2016. This May, I had the pleasure of visiting the Pembrokeshire village of Trefin myself … and the mill that inspired the reverend-bard-archdruid Crwys to write the poem … in 1918.  It seemed an even more meaningful occasion, therefore, in this the 100th anniversary year of the poem.

Here is a photographic record of my visit, with excerpts from the poem in Cymraeg, together with my translation:

Nid yw’r Felin heno’n malu
Yn Nhrefin ym min y môr,
Trodd y merlyn olaf adref
Dan ei bwn o drothwy’r ddôr,
Ac mae’r rhod fu gynt yn chwyrnu
Ac yn rhygnu drwy y fro,
Er pan farw’r hen felinydd
Wedi rhoi ei holaf dro.

The mill is not grinding tonight
in Trefin at the edge of the sea.
The last pony, from beneath its burden,
turned from the threshold towards home
and the wheel that used to rumble
and grumble through the area
has, since the old miller died,
made its last turn.

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Trefin Mill on the North Pembrokeshire Coast

 

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‘The mill is not grinding tonight’

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‘at Trefin at the edge of the sea’.
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‘The kindly stream still runs on’
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‘… past the bare forehead of the house’
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May was the perfect month to visit – with sea pinks (thrift), stonecrop, bladder campion, bird’s foot trefoil and kidney vetch, as well as red campion, bluebells and cow parsley adorning the glorious banks and verges of Pembrokeshire

 

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Rhed y ffrwd garedig eto
Gyda thalcen noeth y ty,
Ond ddaw ned i’r fal ai farlys,
A’r hen olwyn fawr ni thry,
Lle doi gwenith gwyn Llanrhiain
Derfyn haf yn llwythi cras,
Ni cheir mwy on tres o wymon
Gydag ambell frwynen las.

The kindly stream still runs on
past the bare forehead of the house
but it no longer comes to mill the barley
and the big old wheel won’t turn again.
Where the wheat of Llanrhiain
lay at summer’s end
now there’s only a trace of seaweed
and a few green reeds.

 

 

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‘Where the wheat of Llanrhiain
lay at summer’s end’

Looking towards the fields of neighbouring Llanrhian parish, from the village of Trefin. Cereal crops grown in the fields will have been harvested and carted from there to Trefin for grinding into flour.  IMG_6097

Segur faen sy’n gwylio’r fangre
Yn y curlaw mawr a’r gwynt,
Di-lythyren garreg goffa
O’r amseroedd difyr gynt,
Ond’ does yma neb yn malu,
Namyn amser swrth a’r hin
Wrthi’n chwalu ac yn malu,
Malu’r felin yn Nhrefin.

The stone at rest that watches the place
in the thrashing rain and the wind
is a letterless memorial
to the jollity of former times.
Nobody is milling here now.
It is a time of dereliction
– the grinding down
of the mill at Trefin.

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Entering the village of Trefin
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Middle section of the tapestry commemorating the famous poem, curated by Val Dubbens and displayed in the chapel for its 175th anniversary (1843 – 2018)
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Inside the Chapel at Trefin, recently restored
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The chapel at Trefin stands on Druid’s Hill, probably named after William Williams Crwys – minister, bard and archdruid (who, thirty years after writing this poem, inducted Princess Elizabeth into the Gorsedd of Bards at the General Eisteddfod held Bridgend in 1948  … well before her coronation as Queen).

 

 

 

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Capel Trefin

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The whole of the fine tapestry, featuring the chapel, mill and lines from the poem. The tapestry was curated by Val Dubbens.
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Roadsign next to the chapel, commemorating William Williams Crwys
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Sign outside the chapel
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A stanza from the poem, on information board on the outer wall of the ruined mill
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Illustration from the information board
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English translation from information board
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Information board on the outer wall of the mill
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Gwybodaeth am y felin – yn Gymraeg

                                                                                                                                        

 

A poem … and photos

I recently revisited Powys – land of my fathers – continuing my ‘pilgrimage’ to sites important to Welsh history.  Cilmeri and Abbey Cwm Hir – associated with Llewelyn ap Gruffudd – resulted in a file of photographs … and a poem, in the form of a bardic lament, albeit in English, in honour of Y Llyw Olaf.  I combined words and pictures here:

Out – explaining a poem

 

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The latest edition of the Maligned Species ebooks from Fair Acre Press has been published recently, concluding a quartet of poetry publications during February celebrating Spiders, Grey Squirrels, Frogs and Stinging Nettles. The series is expertly published by Nadia Kingsley.

I’m pleased that my poem “Out” was accepted for the latter edition. It deals with exclusion and ostracization because of perceived “difference”, telling of a young man who takes a lunchtime break from office bullies to search for the solace available in the natural world, where authenticity is to be found and celebrated. He literally grasps the nettle of facing up to the pain of life and the choices that have to be made. The resulting discomfort is preferable, stimulating even, compared with the suppressed rage of silently tolerating prejudice, harassment and social cruelty … as many who resort to self-harm in response to abuse will testify. The stinging nettle provides an appropriate metaphor.

Why explain the poem? Isn’t it better to allow audience to interpret? Yes. Almost always, yes. And often a reader or listener will pick up on some significance that the poet themselves hadn’t fully realized. But, having been told recently that the imagery in another of my poems was impenetrable, I thought this was an opportunity to talk about the kinds of psychologies that might be lurking beneath the surface of poems. Sometimes I ask my reader or listener to work a little harder to grasp my nettles. I don’t think that’s a bad thing for the recipient. Coming to the aha! moment after putting in a little extra time and effort has to be more rewarding than the quick flick of an obvious reveal. Well, doesn’t it?

Anyway. Here’s the link to the Fair Acre press shop where you can download the entire Stinging Nettles ebook or pdf for £2.99, proceeds going to the charity Plantlife.
Fairacre Press bookshop
The tremendous cover at the top of this blog post is by Peter Tinkler and is especially sympathetic to “Out” and other poems in the collection by:

David Calcutt, Andrew Fusek Peters, Nadia Kingsley, Liz Lefroy, Emma Purshouse, and John Siddique. Also poems from: Deb Alma, Jean Atkin, Carole Bromley, Tina Cole, Linda Goulden, Jan Harris, Steve Harris, Angi Holden, Janet Jenkins, Chris Kinsey, Patricia Leighton, Mandy Mcdonald, Alwyn Marriage, Rosie Mapplebeck, Gillian Mellor, Nicky Phillips, Pauline Prior-Pitt, Antoinette Rock, Helen Seys Llewellyn, Sophie Starkey, Claire Stephenson, Giles Turnbull, and Deborah Wargate.