Monday, 13 November 2017

Hedd Wyn (1887-1917), born Ellis Humphrey Evans, killed 100 Killed 100 years ago at Paschendaele

Hedd Wyn (1887-1917), born Ellis Humphrey Evans, killed 100 Killed 100 years ago at Paschendaele

Welsh Language poet Hedd Wyn '"blessed peace" was killed 100 years ago on the first day of the battle of Passchendaele.

Hedd Wyn (1887-1917), born Ellis Humphrey Evans, was a sheep farmer turned poet-soldier who was killed during the First World War.
He began writing Welsh-language poetry at an early age; when aged 24 he was awarded a chair at Bala; others followed at Llanuwchllyn, Pwllheli and Pontardawe (the latter in 1915 with the First World War underway).Evans - who chose Hedd Wyn ('white peace') as his pen name - was born in Penlan, Trawsfynydd the eldest of eleven children, and lived for much of his life at Yr Ysgwrn, a hill farm east of Trawsfynydd.

Wynn sat out the war for three years as a sheep farmer until he was called up for military service in 1917. Following a spell of training in Liverpool Private Evans was despatched for active service in Flanders and found himself stationed with his regiment at the notorious Pilckem Ridge immediately prior to the opening of the Passchendaele offensive (3rd Ypres).
It was at Pilckem Ridge that Wyn was killed during fighting in August 1917. Buried initially on the battlefield (out of necessity) his body was subsequently moved to Artillery Wood cemetery following the armistice.
September of that year brought a posthumous award of the chair at the National Eisteddfod of Wales for his verse poem Yr Arwr ('The Hero'). Wyn had written the poem while serving in Flanders and completed it shortly before his death under the nom-de-plume of 'fleur-de-lis'. The chair itself was draped in black in memorial of Wyn following the announcement of his win and revelation of the author's actual identity.
A Welsh-language film based on Wyn's life was produced in 1992, Hedd Wynn.
It was at Pilckem Ridge that Wyn was killed during fighti ng in August 1917. Buried initially on the battlefield (out of necessity) his body was subsequently moved to Artillery Wood cemetery following the armistice.
Gwae fi fy myw mewn oes mor ddreng,
A Duw ar drai ar orwel pell;
O'i ôl mae dyn, yn deyrn a gwreng,
Yn codi ei awdurdod hell.
Pan deimlodd fyned ymaith Dduw
Cyfododd gledd i ladd ei frawd;
Mae sŵn yr ymladd ar ein clyw,
A'i gysgod ar fythynnod tlawd.
Mae'r hen delynau genid gynt,
Ynghrog ar gangau'r helyg draw,
A gwaedd y bechgyn lond y gwynt,
A'u gwaed yn gymysg efo'r glaw
Why must I live in this grim age,
When, to a far horizon, God
Has ebbed away, and man, with rage,
Now wields the sceptre and the rod?
Man raised his sword, once God had gone,
To slay his brother, and the roar
Of battlefields now casts upon
Our homes the shadow of the war.
The harps to which we sang are hung,
On willow boughs, and their refrain
Drowned by the anguish of the young
Whose blood is mingled with the rain

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