As a new statue of Cranogwen is unveiled in Llangranog this weekend, Wales Arts Review is delighted to publish a poem by Hanan Issa, Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru / National Poet of Wales and Casi Wyn, Bardd Plant Cymru, to mark the occasion.
This weekend sees the unveiling of the latest in the series of statues commissioned by the Monumental Welsh Women group. The statue, which honours the pioneering poet, campaigner, journalist and mariner, Sarah Jane Rees – better known by her bardic name of Cranogwen – is being unveiled in Llangrannog, Ceredigion on Saturday, June 10th 2023, following a campaign by Cerflun Cymunedol Cranogwen Community Monument, a subgroup of the Llangrannog Welfare Committee, in partnership with Monumental Welsh Women.
To celebrate the unveiling, we are delighted to publish a new poem, marking the occasion, by Hanan Issa and Casi Wyn.
Dywed, beth oedd ei chyfrinach?
“Tell me of Cranogwen”, said the sea to the shore.
“Dywed, beth oedd ei chyfrinach?”
“She was brave”, came the reply,
softer than a crab shifting on sand.
“Merch y graig, gonest, garw, cryf oedd hi,
my bones remember her steps,
penderfynoldeb ei chamau
so certain, so assured.
Unafraid of moulding new paths
through my sands, my fields,
they still hum her harmonies,
playful as the wind.
A deimli di ei halaw
dros fy nhraethau,
ar fy nghreigiau?”
“Ah yes. My seaweed, my rocks recall her voice well.
Yma bu barddoniaeth
raising the daily works of women and girls,
till her song reached the gulls soaring overhead.
They carried her words across the sea,
ei brawddegau a deithiant
to shores of far away and future.
gan hau haelioni
a chynhesrwydd Ceredigion
yn llenwi ei chalon.”
They cried when offering her the helm,
carved of memory,
ritual soaking into wood.
Hi yn ei holl hynodrwydd
sy’n parhau i anadlu
bywyd yn y pridd.
Her words still echo through my trees
as they tell saplings the adventures
of a woman who would not waiver.
“She read my waters,
darllennodd pob deigryn
a gwau edafedd arian
rhwng atgof ac atgof,
hearing the whispers of the stars.
At night, I sent soothing waves,
tonnau hen, hen si-hei-lwli-mabi,
gently rocking her into dreams
of the deep. Secrets I shared as she slept
and Cranogwen woke with my sighs on her tongue.”
“Now I keep her. Our sweet Sara,
beloved of sea and shore,
yn un â’r tir a’i carodd,
her life a glimmering dream,
gorffwysa in my earthen embrace,
daear a blodau,
root and seed,
kissing her bones.”
Hanan Issa, Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru / National Poet of Wales a Casi Wyn, Bardd Plant Cymru
Comisiynwyd y gerdd hon gan Llenyddiaeth Cymru ar achlysur dadorchuddio cerflun Cranogwen yn Llangrannog, 10 Mehefin 2023
This poem was commissioned by Literature Wales to note the unveiling of the statue of Cranogwen in Llangrannog, 10 June 2023.