Please note: This video poem contains images that some viewers might find distressing.
‘Cymuno’ (Communing) by Ifor ap Glyn
Commissioned by BBC Cymru Fyw. Below is an English translation. Click here to read the Welsh-language original
(after the Armistice 1918)
When the men come back to Soar and Salem,
they’re not the same men that they were.
Despite settling straight-backed on polished pews
the noise still fills their heads;
the smell of the polish reproaches the stench
that lived so long in their nostrils;
horrid spectres are seared on their eyes;
and the two hands joined in prayer today
are hands that slid a comrade yesterday,
by the spadeful, into a sack.
There are several gaps here this evening
and the men share their pews
with those who weren’t there – but they can’t ‘share’ either.
They’re like bread and wine…
And the women who come to Soar and Salem?
Well, they’re no longer the women they were,
having slipped the yoke of domestic chores,
for the challenge of the work place;
having endured cruel uncertainties
before an alien letter poked its tongue through the door
and dropped like a corpse on the mat.
Many empty firesides come with them here tonight,
many ribbons of correspondence neatly tied in drawers,
many carefully cheery chats with their premature ends…
But each with their different wounds from ‘up the line’
come to seek some meaning from the bread and the wine.
Ifor ap Glyn
Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru
National Poet of Wales
About Ifor ap Glyn
Born and bred in London to Welsh parents Ifor ap Glyn is a multi-award-winning poet, presenter, director and producer. Ifor has won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod – one of the festival’s most prestigious prizes – on two occasions, first in 1999 and most recently at the Denbighshire and District National Eisteddfod in 2013. From 2008-2009 Ifor was Bardd Plant Cymru, the Welsh-language Children’s Laureate.
He lives in Caernarfon and works at Cwmni Da, an independent television and film production company of which he was a founding member. He has won several BAFTA Cymru awards for his work including the Lleisiau’r Rhyfel Mawr and Popeth yn Gymraeg series.
Ifor has represented Welsh poetry around the world in both the Welsh and English language, having performed at festivals such as the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington DC.