Menna Elfyn

Poem | ‘Truth Versus Truth’ by Menna Elfyn

Truth versus Truth


After the truth,

a hoard of falsehood.


After the sycophancy,

another ‘truth’, ‘decent men’.


After the anguish

the vital truth: the cost.


After the enquiry,

high office against folk.


After the ‘truth’ of the waste,

the rigmarole of wasted speech.


To the pure of heart

half a century of buried truths.


Truth versus truth versus truth.



*Truth in Welsh means the opposite of truth in English. Truth (treeth) means falsehood, blandishment, nonsense, rigmarole or in a new Welsh dictionary ‘ a story which has no shape or sense!’

With this exclusive new poem from her upcoming collection, Bondo (Bloodaxe, October 2017), Menna Elfyn presents an excerpt from a sequence on the subject of the Aberfan disaster, but tackling themes that are now still tragically resonant.

Bondo is Menna Elfyn’s latest collection in Welsh and English. Her title means eaves in Welsh, referring to poems about getting close to language as sanctuary. Other poems were written episodically over a number of years. These meditative poems began simply as a personal engagement with the grief of Aberfan, expressing solidarity with a nation’s wound. Bondo is also the voice which echoes the role of the Welsh bard as remembrancer.

Menna Elfyn is the best-known, most travelled and most translated of all Welsh-language poets. The extraordinary international range of her subjects, breathtaking inventiveness and generosity of vision place her among Europe’s leading poets. Like her previous Bloodaxe titles, Bondo is a bilingual Welsh-English edition. Again, the facing English translations are by leading Welsh poets, in this case Elin ap Hywel, Gillian Clarke, Damian Walford Davies and Robert Minhinnick. It is her first new book since Perfect Blemish: New & Selected Poems / Perffaith Nam: Dau Ddetholiad & Cherddi Newydd 1995-2007 and the later collection Murmur (2012), a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation.