Lament for Siôn y Glyn, by Lewys Glyn Cothi

One son, a dear one:
his father grieves for ever.
Why was he born
to be with no son?
My little die’s dead,
ribs aching for Siôn.
Unending lament
for my fairy-tale lord.

He loved apples, birds,
and smooth white pebbles,
thorn-branch bows
and little wooden swords.
Bogeymen scared him.
He’d beg mam for a ball
and sing his funny tune,
sing cuckoo for a nut.
He’d fuss and flatter,
get angry with me,
then soften for a wooden toy
and his favorite dice.

Why can’t Siôn, gentle boy,
live again like Lazarus?
St. Beuno brought back seven
for a second term on earth;
can’t Siôn make an eighth,
return from far-off heaven?
Oh Mary, my ribs are sore,
he’s dead and in his grave!
Siôn’s death wounds me,
gores my weakling chest.

My son, my playground,
my breast, my heart, my song,
my constant lifelong thought,
my clever poet, my reverie,
my trinket, my candle,
my fine spirit, my only lie,
my chick teaching my tune,
my Iseult’s brooch, my kiss,
my strength, my vanished vigor,
my morning lark, my conjurer,
my Siôn, my bow, my arrow,
my pleader, my boyhood.

Siôn’s dispatching to his dad
a dream of love and longing.
Farewell smile-on-lips,
farewell giggling mouth,
farewell tender comforter,
farewell nut-borrower,
farewell forever, ball,
farewell resounding song,
farewell my witty dear one,
deep beneath the soil, my Siôn!


4 thoughts on “Lament for Siôn y Glyn, by Lewys Glyn Cothi

  1. Lewys Glyn Cothi was a poet active during the 15th Century. He wrote this poem after the death of his 5-year-old son. This translation is much more ‘faithful’ to the original than the translations that have previously appeared on this blog. In content, it follows the original quite closely, but no attempt has been made to follow the metre.


  2. I don’t know whether you like the Quay Brothers. Their feature films are real curate’s eggs ( The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes is as pretentious as it sounds with some lovely bits of animation mixed in with appalling English dialogue from European actors ) and they can err on the side of the willfully obscure but I think this short film ( which I stumbled upon on Friday whilst pretending to work ) is them at their best. Plus it has a link to the content of the poem.

    The quality isn’t brilliant and it’s set in the dark so it’s best watched in a dimly lit room.


  3. Thanks for that. I have a vague feeling that I watched something by the Quay brothers on TV years ago, but I can’t remember anything about it. This one is a strong piece of work. Great music.


  4. Their 2 feature films are hit and mainly miss but the short films ” Street of Crocodiles”, “The Comb”, “Maska” ( in particular ) are very good. And on YouTube.

    They do use digital effects but most of what you see is done in the camera rather than post-production.

    They made a film about Svankmajer for Channel 4 and always get compared to him even though their films are quite different.


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