Monday, 19 November 2012

Museum for Hedd Wyn

A National Treasure
One of Snowdonia's most famous literary figures, Hedd Wyn, became a hero when he was killed during the First World War. Ellis Humprhey Evans, or Hedd Wyn, his pen name as he was better known, was born in Trawsfynydd; just a stone's throw from us here at the Oakeley Arms Hotel.
Last week saw the news that his childhood home, a cottage near Trawsfynydd called Yr Ysgwrn has been awarded a grant to help transform the Grade II listed building into a museum to commemorate the poet's life and works. A museum will ensure that the historic cottage is protected for future generations to learn more about the legacy of one of Wales' greatest heroes.
A memorial to Hedd Wyn in Trawsfynydd village
Hedd Wyn was born into the wild landscape of nineteenth century North Wales in 1887. He grew up on a remote sheep farm and by the time he was 14 years old had finished school and was working as a shepherd with his father. He began writing poetry at an early age, undoubtedly inspired by the rugged landscape around him. He won his first county Eisteddfod prize at the age of just 19 under the pen name of Hedd Wyn (literally meaning White Peace) but his ambition was to win the coveted and highly revered chair of a National Eisteddfod.
Hedd Wyn had no intention of joining the Army; in fact, he was against the war. But, the conscription laws deemed that the family had to send at least one of their sons to the war effort. Ellis volunteered to save his brothers and in March 1917 he joined the Royal Wlech Fusiliers. He continued to write though, and by July he'd finished his entry for that year's Eisteddfod.
He posted his poem "Yr Arwr" (The Hero) along with his future hopes and dreams, and prayed for success. But tragically, just 16 days later, Hedd Wyn was killed in action during the Battle of Passchendaele in Northern Belgium. He was just 30 years old.
Hedd Wyn was posthumously awarded the chair at the National Eisteddfod that year. The winner was announced and the author asked to step forward. When nobody did it was revealed that the poet had been killed in action. The dark and empty chair was forlornly draped in black cloth and sent to his parents' home in Trawsfynydd.
Hedd Wyn has since become recognised as one of the most important and influential Welsh language poets in history.
Find out more about the story of the grant and the museum on the BBC news website here
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 sw^n yr ymladd ar ein clyw,
A'i gysgod ar fythynnod tlawd.
Mae'r hen delynau genid gynt
Yng nghrog ar gangau'r helyg draw,
A gwaedd y bechgyn lond y gwynt,
A'u gwaed yn gymyg efo'r glaw.
Hedd Wyn

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