Lleisio – a poem for the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages

Published Fri 1 Feb 2019 - By Literature Wales

Literature Wales has commissioned National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn, to compose the following poem ‘Lleisio’ (Voicing), to mark the launch of the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages. This year-long celebration is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Wales’ vibrant, multilingual culture, and its place in the world’s rich linguistic tapestry.

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Lleisio (Voicing)

(for the launch of the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages, here in Wales. Translated from the original welsh by Ifor himself.)


nomina si pereunt, perit et cognitio rerum

“if the names are lost,

our knowledge of things dies too”.

So pray tell us, enlightened ones,

how is language to be saved?


Not by annotation, nor consecration,

nor by locking words down like sticky burrs

that may cling to those

who prowl our perimeters;


because Welsh, written,

is but a stuffed fox;

its ‘mid-air paw’ will move no more,

its glassy eyes unseeing.


Its verve comes from being voiced;

and on children’s tongues, it will live on.


Ifor ap Glyn

Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru