A Poem by Mererid Hopwood


In response to Hedd Wyn’s ‘Rhyfel’ and ‘Blotyn Du’

What mercy when the sun’s five rays of light

shut tight and rain in fistfuls splintered steel,

when storms and shadows leave no trace of fright

or sweat on bloody hands that do not feel?

What mercy when the winds are swords so sharp

their terrors lash out grief in mothers’ heads,

while still we cradle dreams, and sing the harp’s

sweet hiraeth having torn the world to shreds?

What mercy when we claim the moon, the cloud

with bands of gold, the sky and every star,

and dress the Order as we knew it in a shroud,

oblivious to the maggots in the scar?

Let pity weep for me, for us, the set

that does no more than ‘fire and forget’.

Mererid Hopwood is Professor of Welsh and Celtic Studies at Aberystwyth and secretary of Academi Heddwch Cymru. She has spent her career studying and teaching languages and literature. She won the Chair and Crown for poetry and the Prose Medal at the National Eisteddfod, as well as the Welsh Book of the Year Prize in the poetry category for her collection Nes Draw. She has been Children’s Laureate for Wales and takes great pleasure in writing books for children. She has worked with many musicians and composers in Wales and abroad. This year she will receive the Hay Festival Medal for Poetry.

Mae Mererid Hopwood yn Athro’r Gymraeg ac Astudiaethau Celtaidd yn Aberystwyth ac yn ysgrifennydd Academi Heddwch Cymru. Treuliodd ei gyrfa yn astudio a dysgu ieithoedd a llenyddiaeth. Enillodd Gadair, Coron a Medal Ryddiaith yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol a Gwobr Llyfr y Flwyddyn, categori barddoniaeth, am ei chyfrol Nes Draw. Bu’n fardd plant Cymru ac mae wrth ei bodd yn llunio llyfrau plant. Mae wedi gweithio gyda nifer o gerddorion a chyfansoddwyr yng Nghymru a thramor. Eleni bydd hi’n derbyn Medal Gŵyl y Gelli am Farddoniaeth.