What is Eryri?
A multi-sensory symphony;
the purple heather fanfaring
the short empire of the sun,
and the furtive blue of bilberry sprigs
a sharp-eyed visitor’s feast.
And after the heady overture
of green bracken baking in the sun
or pine needles’ damp perfume
as they’re trodden under foot,
the surprise notes come;
the orange shock of mountain ash;
or the quartz rocks
like corpse candles in the mist;
for this is a year-round symphony…
Where is Eryri?
For some, it’s part of our make-up.
It exists way beyond Park boundaries
(which reproach yesterday’s quarrymen
for wreaking an ice age of change
in a few short generations)
Eryri’s ‘barren outline’
steals like a tattoo beneath our skin…
What will we see in Eryri?
Sometimes Eryri’s shy,
before it loosens itself from the mist;
but in this cathedral of the spirit,
it’s being here that’s important,
‘seeing’ is an added privilege…
And when the hammers of our hearts
fall quiet at the top of the climb,
we must listen; fine rain
will pearl the eaves of our brows.
And we will know the language
of the wind, and the bubbling burn
which only raises its voice
after rain or springtime thaw;
this is the solitude that exalts us,
and what matter if we ‘see’ naught today –
when we can cast ourselves
from the cliffs of our fancy?
Till we rise from the heath like a lark;
potter like the bee
in the flowers of here and now,
or hover in the sunset
over thrice recurring forest
like the owl of Cwm Cowlyd?
Who does Eryri belong to?
No-one. Not the fifth-generation farmer
with his sheep ribboning
through the mountain wall,
nor the first-five-minute tourist
as he steps open-mouthed, from his car.
They’ll both disappear in turn,
like pine martens and hill forts.
As we too shall disappear,
‘and our place shall know us no more’
But here, the Welsh language
will outlast us all,
it’s the keynote of the hidden symphony
by which these acres are maintained.
Eryri belongs to the language;
its voice more clearly heard
in autumn than in summer,
but like the burn, it bubbles all year round.
It’s the frame to this open door.
Let’s respect it in its own home
with sut mae?* and diolch!** at least.
* sut mae? how are you?
** diolch! thanks!
What will we learn from Eryri?
To measure ourselves against mountains
and to change speed…
To understand that our time here is short,
but our responsibility huge…
Then, as we put on our instagram face
and take a walk, we’ll tread gently,
leaving only our footprints
to burnish the path for our kids.
And we’ll smile
as we enter these rocky portals,
because moments here,
can enlighten lifetimes.
Ifor ap Glyn
Bardd Cenedlaethol Cymru | National Poet of Wales
(This poem was commissioned by Ifor ap Glyn as part of celebrating 70 years since Snowdonia National Park was designated. )