Saturday, 1 March 2008

The daffodil doddle

According to the 'Penguin Concise Dictionary' the word doddle means 'a very easy task'. P-i-R's normally reliable 'Wordsworth Concise English Dictionary' and his impressively titled 'The New International Webster's Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language' don't even mention the word.
The daffodil doddle P-i-R is thinking about today, this being the 1st day of March, is the annual cross-country run along the Roddlesworth Nature Trail through the area of ancient woodland near the moorland village of Tockholes in Lancashire, England, which takes place at this time of year. The 5 km course is not too strenuous, a mere doddle.
Roddlesworth is a scenic spot and at this time of year the woodland paths are ablaze with daffodils. P-i-R has taken part in this cross-country run several times. It is a favourite run, heralding as it does the return of spring. There's also a run for children, over a shorter course, and each child participant is rewarded with a daffodil.
In 'Cambrian Country - Welsh Emblems', the Swansea poet David Greenslade writes of the daffodil, that it is opportunity to spread some Cambrian light. That the daffodil is a genuine golden yellow is a tribute to its lack of relationship with suffering. The daffodil doesn't care about complaints. Today is St. David's Day; the day when the Welsh wear their daffodils in their lapels or put them in vases in their front room windows.
St. David was, according to legend, born in a field in the south-west corner of Wales some 1600 years ago. It was said to be during a thunderstorm. P-i-R has visited the spot and also St. David's Cathedral which stands, not proudly on a hill, but discreetly in a hollow and therefore safe from ancient enemies.
Today there will be harmonious singing of traditional songs like Sosban Fach (Little Saucepan), perhaps a game of rugby and some supping of good Welsh beer to keep the songsters' throats well oiled.
On this Welsh National Day, and it is not even an official holiday mark you, there will be no parading of the military, no tanks rumbling down the main streets, no guided missiles on the backs of lorries. Wales is a proud land with a history that will stand up to any close scrutiny. The land may be small and have more sheep than people, but it is not and never will be some kind of jumped-up banana republic. In that way, the sons of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd (the last indigenous prince of Wales defeated in 1277) are most astute. There's a Welsh proverb that sums up the Welsh mentality. It's to do with the way the Welsh perceive themselves and it has grains of truth by the cartload in it.

To be born Welsh
is to be born privileged,
not with a silver spoon
in your mouth
but music in your blood
and poetry in your soul


Wales is first and foremost a land of seashore and ancient mountains. These mountains are of granite, slate and coal. The land is bounded on three sides (north, west and south) by the sea. Nobody in Wales lives very far from the sea.

On the Seashore

On the seashore are red roses;
on the seashore are white lilies;
on the seashore is my darling
who sleeps by night and wakes by morning.

On the seashore is a flat stone
where I exchanged a word with my sweetheart;
around this stone grows the lily
and a few sprigs of rosemary.

On the seashore are blue stones,
on the seashore are the flowers of youth.
On the seashore are all mode of virtues;
on the seashore is my own sweetheart.


John Ceiriog Hughes known as Ceiriog was a very famous Welsh lyric poet. The following poem, a popular bass/baritone solo piece, is written in Welsh. The title and first line translate to 'The Great Mountains Remain'. Perhaps some kind reader will translate the whole of the poem into 'the thin language', as R S Thomas was prone to call English. Poet-in-Residence, living in 'exile' regrets that his smattering of Welsh is no longer up to the mark.

Aros Mae'r Mynyddau Mawr

Aros mae'r mynyddau mawr
Rhuo trostynt mae y gwynt
Clywir eto gyda'r wawr
Gan bugeiliaid megis cynt.
Eto tyfa'r llygad dydd,
O gylch traed y graig a'r bryn;
Ond bugeiliaid newydd
Sydd ar yr hen fynyddoedd hyn.

Ar arferion Cymru gynt
Newid ddaeth o rod i rod;
Mae cenhedlaeth wedi mynd
A chenhedlaeth wedi dod.
Wedi oes dymhestlog hir
Alun Mabon mwy nid yw -
Ond mae'r heniaith yn y tir
A'r alawon hen yn fyw.

Ceiriog (1832 - 1887)

Finally, it's back to that song about the little saucepan. This is one that every Welsh child learns at his mother's knee.

Little Saucepan

Mary Ann has hurt her finger;
David the servant is unwell;
the baby in the crib is crying
and the cat has scratched little Johnny.

Little saucepan boiling on the fire,
little saucepan boiling on the fire,
and the cat has scratched little Johnny.

Mary Ann's sore finger is better;
David the servant is in his grave;
the baby in the crib is now quiet,
and the cat is resting in peace.


Poet-in-Residence wishes all readers, whatever their language or location in the world, a happy and peaceful St. David's Day.


  1. Here's a translation I found to the poem 'Aros mae'r mynyddau mawr'

    The great mountains remain
    The wind roars across them
    The song of shepherds is heard again with the dawn, as before

    Also the daisies grow
    Around the feet of rock and hill
    But there are new shepherds
    On these old mountains

    Upon the customs of the former Wales
    Change came with the Earth’s turn
    A generation has gone
    And a generation has come

    After a tempestuous age
    Alun Mabon is no more
    But the old language is in the land
    And the old tunes live

  2. freddie,
    Many thanks to you for your trouble. It's very much appreciated.
    It will go on the blog next St David's.


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