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. )

Back to Ifor ap Glyn: National Poet of Wales 2016 – 2022