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That Near-Nun From Eithinfynydd

That Near-Nun from Eithinfynydd

Y Fun o Eithinfynydd

 

In Eithinfynydd – sore test –

A girl lives who scorns to tryst.

Fine of eyebrow, warm of glance,

Fair of hair, she frowns askance.

Fatal muse – fettered my breath,

Fortified from fear of death –

Flaming mirror, glazed in gold,

Fire-lit jewel who thrills the glade,

For me she was forged, her grace

Flintlike as her ivory face.

Forgoing lust, my lithe love

Forswears trysting in the grove.

Never ventures to the woods

Nor answers amorous words.

No, my Morfudd will not play,

Not for love of Mair, but pray,

Loving only saints, and Christ –

No faith in me – she is chaste.

Nothing she knows of my state –

Never would she fornicate –

Not knowing I would be true,

Not wanting me, nor him, nor you.

Never would I wish to live

Forfeiting my heartfelt love,

So I suffer pain and dearth:

To flirt with Morfudd means death.

 

Source material: Attributed to Dafydd ap Gwilym, paraphrased by Giles Watson. A farm between Llanuwchllyn and Dolgellau, Meirionethshire, goes by the name of Eithinfynydd, but this is also the name for a dwelling near Tal-y-bont. The idea that Morfudd’s refusal is prompted by her religious devotion appears in some of Dafydd’s other poems, and it is perhaps significant that he first met her at the performance of a mystery play. However, other poems make it clear that she was married to an abusive husband. Perhaps the two scenarios are not mutually exclusive. Thomas Parry included the poem in his 1952 edition of Dafydd’s work, but questioned its authenticity. Later critics have been more confident, citing independent sources which connect Morfudd with Meirionethshire. If the poem is not by Dafydd ap Gwilym, it is a very good imitation by one of his near-contemporaries. Based on the text available at www.dafyddapgwilym.net.

 

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Taken on February 13, 2010